TEMC Organist Historical Spotlight – Mrs. H.M. Blight to Sir Ernest MacMillan (1910-1925)
TEMC’s founding in 1914 occurred against the backdrop of the optimism and energy of a new century, but as in many major churches the expense and challenges of creating a remarkable building trumped the practical need for an organ to lead worship, and as you will likely have heard the organ we still enjoy at TEMC followed fully four years later in 1914, a year which also saw the outbreak of World War I. Prior to that time our church’s first Director of Music, Mrs. Harry M. Blight, accompanied services led in various locations prior to the completion of the main church sanctuary that stands today.
In 1914 the church opened, and on Monday December 21st of that year, celebrated British-American organist T. Tertius Noble of St. Thomas Church New York City gave the Dedication recital on its new Casavant Organ. The concert, which featured works of Bach, Guilmant and Liszt also featured renowned recently-emigrated British baritone Dalton Baker, who became TEMC’s first Organist and Choir Master, serving until 1919.
But it was a Toronto boy who would become TEMC’s next and most famous organist, Ernest MacMillan. MacMillan spent World War I interned as an enemy alien in Germany, but became TEMC’s organist in 1920, staying until 1925. MacMillan became principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music in 1926, served as conductor of the Toronto Symphony from 1931 to 1956 (and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for the last 14 of those years). MacMillan was knighted in 1935, and became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1970.