In Memoriam | Wayne Riddell, CM

Wayne Riddell
Image by Brian Merrett.
Published: 11 November 2022

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Wayne Riddell, CM on November 6, 2022.

Wayne Riddell graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Music in 1960, was a Faculty Member of the Schulich School of Music from 1968–1980, an Honorary Doctorate in Music recipient in 2014 and member of the Schulich School of Music Faculty Advisory Board for over 20 years. His impact was profound, and his legacy will not soon be forgotten.   

Recognized as one of Canada’s most accomplished choral conductors, Wayne Riddell received numerous awards for his work in raising the standard of chamber and church music performance. With The Tudor Singers of Montreal, the Presbyterian Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, chorus master of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and with multiple choirs and orchestras across the country, he was known as a magnetic leader, inspiring loyalty and admiration among many generations of singers. Beyond the numerous recordings and concerts he conducted in collaboration with the CBC, he also served as adjudicator, choral workshop clinician, and guest conductor in Canada and abroad.

After graduating from McGill in 1960, he was responsible for the music education of some 2,500 young students in the public school system. In 1968, Wayne Riddell joined McGill University, where he taught keyboard harmony, solfège, ear-training and choral conducting techniques. He also served as head of the choral department and led two of the faculty choirs.  

The memory of Wayne Riddell’s dedication to choral music lives on at Schulich through the Wayne Riddell Choral Award, given to an outstanding student with an interest in choral music or conducting, and the Norman Beckow Choral Excellence Endowment Fund. Learn more about Wayne Riddell’s career, his time at the Schulich School of Music and his motivation to give back in the news article “A legacy that sings.”  

When receiving his honorary doctorate from McGill in 2014, Wayne Riddell delivered a poignant and delightful address offering advice for graduating students and their journey ahead. His words continue to resonate today. We invite you to revisit the special moment via YouTube in his honour.  

Wayne Riddell demonstrated a passionate commitment to the art of choral music worthy of the highest recognition. He demanded the very best of his singers whatever the repertoire and championed the creation and performance of works by contemporary composers, especially Canadians.

Few people have come within Wayne Riddell’s musical orbit without being deeply moved and inspired by him. He will be dearly missed by McGill colleagues, students, alumni and friends.    

There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for his life at The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul (3415 Redpath, Montreal) on November 22, 2022 at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers, gifts to honour his memory may be given to the Wayne Riddell Choral Award, McGill University (514-398-2787) or to the Music Program, The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Montreal

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