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Wilfrid Holland (1920-2005) : Associate Artist

Photo of Wilfrid Holland

Wilfrid Holland was born in Hull, England, on 27 June 1920. His serious musical education started at the Royal School of Church Music in 1938. In 1946, after WWII, he was appointed organist at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he studied composition and musicology. From 1950 he taught at Dover College in Kent and for ten years was a leading musician in that town, directing the Dover Choral and Orchestral Societies and the Dover Singers.

In 1960 he settled in Canberra as Director of Music at the Canberra Grammar School. The following year he instituted the Canberra Choral Society, also acting as its conductor for the following ten years. As a conductor Wilfrid was also responsible for helping develop the Canberra Orchestral Society, which would later become the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. In 1971 he retired from this field to concentrate on the interpretation and composing of chamber music suitable for The Winter Singers, which he had founded in 1963. Many of his original works have been published by E.C. Schirmer of Boston, MA, but are not generally distributed in Australia.

In mid-1992 the ACT Lieder Society sponsored a concert devoted entirely to his compositions, which was an acknowledged artistic success and which, as a by-product, created a new direction in his writing.

In July 1993 he disbanded The Winter Singers and decided to concentrate on piano work, mainly vocal accompaniments. From this point his composition also changed from writing choral music to turning his hand to solo songs, which he found a far more personal business, since solo work must be tailored to suit the personality as well as the technical skill of the singer concerned.

In addition to his capacity as both a composer and conductor, Wilfrid worked in various other roles. Between 1960-1970 he lectured in music for the Canberra Adult Education Authority, and he also worked as an examiner for both the Australian Music Examinations Board and the Australian Guild of Music and Speech. Wilfrid was active as a private music teacher, and was awarded the Canberra Critics' Circle Award (Music) in October 1993 for "outstanding contribution to musical life in Canberra as teacher, composer and conductor". He died 15 September 2005.