Wayne Riddell | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Wayne Riddell

Wayne (Kerr) Riddell, CM, organist, choir conductor, teacher (born 10 September 1936 in Lachute, QC: died 6 November 2022 in Montreal, QC). Wayne Riddell was an accomplished choral conductor and faculty member of the Schulich School of Music at McGill University (1968–80).

Wayne Riddell received a Bachelor of Music from McGill University in 1960. He studied with Juliette Rodrigue and Kenneth Gilbert and served as organist-choirmaster at several Montreal churches, including Westmount Park United 1958–65, Erskine and American United 1965–72, and the Church of St Andrew and St Paul 1972–86. Riddell taught at Marianopolis College and 1961–64 in the Protestant schools.

In 1968, Riddell joined McGill’s faculty of Music and in 1969, he was made director of choirs and vice-chair of the department. He founded the Tudor Singers of Montreal in 1962 and conducted it until 1986; he toured and recorded with the choir, and led it to great renown. In 1988 he was conductor of both the National Youth Choir, organized by the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors, and of the Ontario Youth Choir.

The choir of the Church of St Andrew and St Paul made four LPs under Riddell, including Jubilate (1978, St Andrew & St Paul AP-175), Noël Nouvelet (1979, London LOS-26637), Te Deum (1980, St Andrew & St Paul AP-177) and Magnificat (1984, Savvy CSPS-2371). This choir for many years presented an oratorio series, performing major works of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Fauré, and Duruflé. It was also the first recipient of the Canada Council's Healey Willan Prize as the best choir in its annual choral competition.

In 1991, Riddell continued to pursue an active career as a freelance choral conductor. He travelled extensively, guest conducting choirs and orchestras, and acting as adjudicator and choral workshop clinician. He was a guest conductor at the Glasgow International Festival in Scotland in October 1990, and led a five-day choral workshop at the Elora Festival in 1991.

In 1988, Riddell was named a Member of the Order of Canada. He received an honorary doctorate from McGill University in 2014. In 2016, the Wayne Riddell Choral Award was established at McGill’s Schulich School of Music.

Riddell was also a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Further Reading