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Composers: Walter MacNutt
Walter MacNutt was born in Charlottetown, PEI. He studied piano at the Toronto Conservatory of Music and organ and composition with Healey Willan, and rapidly became a notable figure in the Canadian music scene.
He served as organist and choirmaster at Anglican Churches in Barrie, Toronto, Charlottetown, Winnipeg, and Windsor before settling in Toronto at St Thomas’s Church. During the Second World War, he served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
In his early years, MacNutt composed mainly art songs and instrumental works. His piano suite was published for winning a national competition; his symphonic tone poem was performed by the CBC radio orchestra; and the Windsor Singers presented his arrangements of British folksongs weekly on CBC radio.
During his later years, at St. Thomas’s Church (1954–77), MacNutt wrote mostly choral works: devotional motets, Christmas carols, Eucharistic settings, hymn tunes, descants, and plainsong arrangements. He became famous for his hymn accompaniments and organ improvisations.
As a church musician, Walter MacNutt sought to embody the spirit of the liturgy in music and to encourage congregational singing. As a composer, he endeavoured to craft music that would be appealing and accessible to singers and listeners alike.