Muriel Stafford

Muriel (Emily) Stafford (b Gidley). Organist, choir director, teacher, accompanist, b Adrian, Mich, 1 Apr 1906, d Toronto 30 Dec 2004; ATCM 1926, LTCM 1927, honorary FRCCO 1959. She settled in Leamington, Ont, with her British parents in 1907.

Stafford, Muriel

Muriel (Emily) Stafford (b Gidley). Organist, choir director, teacher, accompanist, b Adrian, Mich, 1 Apr 1906, d Toronto 30 Dec 2004; ATCM 1926, LTCM 1927, honorary FRCCO 1959. She settled in Leamington, Ont, with her British parents in 1907. In 1921, after only six lessons from a local teacher, she became organist of St John's Anglican Church, Leamington. She studied 1925-7 with MacMillan, Willan, G.D. Atkinson, and Ernest Seitz at the TCM and won the gold medal for organ in 1926. She became the first organist-choirmaster of the new (1927) Park Rd Baptist Church and remained there 31 years. At this church Stafford directed an annual carol festival that became a model of unhackneyed programming, featuring little-known carols and such longer but intimate works as Willan's Mystery of Bethlehem, Martin Shaw's The Crib, and Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. In 1970 she was deputy organist and director of music at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.

Stafford made her recital debut at the 1933 CCO convention and established her reputation as a concert artist by performances for the Casavant Society, and in recitals in cities across Canada. She was a member 1927-52 of the staff and examiners' board of the TCM (RCMT), teaching organ and piano. Stafford was a President of the Women's Musical Club of Toronto, and an Honorary Life Member of the Toronto Heliconian Club. She became the first woman chairman of the Toronto Chapter of the RCCO and also served 1957-9 as the first woman national president. Stafford received the first Distinguished Service Award from the RCCO.