George Maybee

George (Nelson) Maybee. Organist, choirmaster, educator, b Madoc, Ont, 13 Mar 1913. d Kingston, Ont, 31 Jul 1973. He studied in Canada with W. Ernest Wheatley and Healey Willan and in England under Sir Sidney Nicholson at the (then) English School of Church Music, Chislehurst.

Maybee, George

George (Nelson) Maybee. Organist, choirmaster, educator, b Madoc, Ont, 13 Mar 1913. d Kingston, Ont, 31 Jul 1973. He studied in Canada with W. Ernest Wheatley and Healey Willan and in England under Sir Sidney Nicholson at the (then) English School of Church Music, Chislehurst. He had become well established as a choir director in eastern Ontario, particularly during his tenure as organist-choirmaster at Christ Church (Anglican), Belleville, when in 1942 he was appointed organist-choirmaster at St George's Cathedral, Kingston. His training had fostered in him a strong commitment to the music and liturgy of the Church of England and to the training of men-and-boys' choirs, and he soon developed St George's into a major centre of Anglican choral music, maintaining a high standard for nearly three decades. The Gentlemen and Boys of St George's Cathedral Choir visited Great Britain in 1954 and 1965, the first overseas choir to sing the regular services at Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, York Minster, and King's College Chapel, Cambridge. The choir also made many North American tours and gave a concert in Washington, DC, in November 1964, dedicated to the late President Kennedy.

Maybee was made a Doctor of Humane Letters at Hobart College, NY, and a Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ. In 1965 he was invested by Queen Elizabeth II as Fellow and Canadian Commissioner of the Royal School of Church Music. In this capacity he travelled widely and did much to improve standards of choral singing in Canada and the USA. Maybee, whose specialty was 19th- and early 20th-century English church music, was known also for his flamboyant and engaging personality, and was once described by Time as 'a genial Simon Legree' (referring to his success as an organizer and promoter). He was also a successful high-school music teacher and became co-ordinator of music and the arts for the Frontenac County Board of Education. He was a visiting lecturer at Queens U. One of his last appearances was with the St George's choir before Queen Elizabeth II during her Canadian visit in 1973.


Further Reading

  • Klyn, Doyle, and Beaver, Bert. 'They'll sing in the Abbey,' Weekend, 17 Apr 1954