Huggett

Huggett Family. Ottawa-based vocal and instrumental ensemble devoted chiefly to medieval, renaissance, baroque, folk and pseudo-folk music active 1966-82: Leslie Huggett, his wife, Margaret, and their children Andrew, Jennifer, Ian, and Fiona.

Huggett

Huggett Family. Ottawa-based vocal and instrumental ensemble devoted chiefly to medieval, renaissance, baroque, folk and pseudo-folk music active 1966-82: Leslie Huggett, his wife, Margaret, and their children Andrew, Jennifer, Ian, and Fiona.

Leslie (b London 1 Jun 1929, a one-time french hornist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, who moved to Ottawa in 1954 to direct a chamber music program at the RCAF base and later played in the Ottawa Philharmonic) was music director and played bass viol. Margaret (b London 18 Nov 1931) played virginal, spinet, and harpsichord. Andrew (b Ottawa 22 Jul 1955) played oboe, baroque violin, lute, and guitar and arranged the repertoire of traditional and contemporary songs. Jennifer (b Ottawa 15 Nov 1957) played cello and viola da gamba. Ian (b Ottawa 26 Sep 1959) played viola and treble viol. Fiona (b Ottawa 28 Apr 1961) played violin and tenor viol. The family performed in costume. All the members sang, and each played instruments from the woodwind family - recorders, krumhorns, etc.

The family began giving private concerts in 1966 - the children playing only recorders at the time - while Leslie and Margaret were teaching the Orff method in Westchester County (New York) schools. After preparatory work in Greece and England, the family made its formal debut in 1969 at a self-promoted concert at the NAC. Further study, with Canada Council support, took the Huggetts for several winters to England, where they studied renaissance music with Edgar Hunt and baroque music with Trevor Pinnock. The children had extensive training in Ottawa and London as string players. The family performed frequently at the NAC, across Canada on tour, in London (Wigmore Hall) and Paris (Canadian Cultural Centre), in Germany and Greece, and on CBC and BBC radio and TV.

In 1975, on tour with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Huggetts performed Harry Freedman's score for Brian Macdonald's ballet Romeo and Juliet. The LPs The Huggett Family (1973, Daffodil DAF 10044) and A Renaissance Delight (1975, Daffodil DAF 10053) were made in England. An LP called The Huggett Family was made for the CBC (SM-280) in 1977 and two LPs were produced on the group's own label My Lute Awake (1980, Ayre 3923) and, with the Cathedral Singers of Ottawa, Renaissance Noël (1981, Ayre WRC1-1742). The family also may be heard in the NFB productions Aucassin et Nicolette and A Christmas Story. Huggett Family programs, often built around specific themes, include At the Field of the Cloth of Gold and Beyond and King Henry VIII and His Women, featured at the Shaw Festival in July 1978. The family made a tour of Canada for the JMC (YMC) in 1978-9. Reviewing a performance by the Huggetts at the 1975 RCCO Convention in Toronto, Kenneth Winters wrote (in AGO & RCCO Music, October 1975): 'Their Renaissance repertory is by far their best... The music was sweetly chosen, the dancing decorous, the singing soft and pure, and all of it radiantly human'.

The group disbanded at the end of their 1982 season. In 1991 in Markham, Ont, Leslie and Margaret ran the Huggett Family Music Studio (founded 1984),which emphasized the development of musical talent in children. Their own children pursued individual careers: Andrew, based in Ottawa, composed music for films and commercials; Jennifer married and lived in Switzerland and played cello occasionally with the Lugano Radio Orchestra; Fiona was a member of the English Consort; Ian was active in environmental issues and taught music part-time.


Further Reading

  • Champagne, Jane. 'The Huggett family,' CanComp, 107, Jan 1976

    Thompson, Leslie. 'First family of early music,' Music, vol 4, Nov/Dec 1981

    Kraglund, John. 'New music school prompts Huggett homecoming,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 8 Sep 1984

    Hoddinot, Dan. 'Huggetts offer total musical experience,' Uxbridge Times-Journal, 5 Dec 1984