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1980

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CONCERTS & EVENTS

  • January - Music studies continue in London.

  • April - Margaret and Leslie to Toronto to meet with concert agents.

  • May -  Sell London, England home and purchase Toronto home

  • June/July - Move everything from London to Aylmer, Quebec.

  • August - Various music events and conferences. Mount Orford, Quebec;  Dalton, Ohio.

  • September - Prepare fall/Christmas shows, Ottawa.

  • October - First performances of the year, Port Hope, 12 school shows in Lennox/Addington. Quebec City.

  • November - Move everything to new Toronto home.

  • December - Fredricton, Woodstock, St. Andrews, Wolfville, Halifax, Lennoxville, Cornwall, Waterloo, Barrie, Blyth, Sarnia, London, and Oshawa.

Andrew

Margaret and Ian loading the truck. The Huggetts consolidate households in Aylmer and London and move everything to a newly purchased home in just outside Toronto.

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FANTASIA

John Dowland

Andrew Lute.

LISTEN WHILE YOU BROWSE

John Dowland (1563 – 1626) was an English composer, lutenist, and singer. His compositions are some of the finest examples of late Renaissance music and are featured on the Huggett's 1979 My Lute Awake album. A devoted catholic, Dowland performed several espionage assignments for Sir Robert Cecil in France and Denmark. The plotters offered him a large sum of money from the Pope and safe passage for his wife and children to come to him from England. Still, in the end, he declined to have anything further to do with their plans and begged pardon from Sir Robert Cecil and the Queen.

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John Dowland. Not only a brilliant composer but a catholic spy.

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PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

Throughout the years, schooling by correspondence is a regular part of the daily routine. Now, Jennifer, Ian, and Fiona finish high school within a year of each other. Ian and Fiona, the two youngest, have worked hard to catch up with their older sibling, and Fiona graduates high school with a 90% average. Ironically, Andrew has been teaching Baroque performance at Ottawa University and working in the recording studio for several years when he receives his High School Equivalency diploma from the Ontario Ministry of Education.

As young adults, Jennifer and Fiona are thinking about a future in professional music outside the Huggett Family.   Lessons in London and Canada focus on their principal instruments: Fiona studies  Baroque violin with June Baines and Cat Mackintosh in London; and Jennifer the modern cello with Jenny Ward-Clark in London and Don Whitten in Canada. Ian studies the viola with Roger Best in London and Steven Dan in Canada; however, he is also developing a strong interest in environmental issues and is contemplating a change in direction. 

Despite a last-minute application, Jennifer wins acceptance at the National Centre for Orchestral Studies at Goldsmiths College in London, England. Applicants audition worldwide for a place at this prestigious finishing school.  It is a testament to the quality of Jennifer's cello playing that she can hold her own among applicants who have dedicated their entire musical lives solely to the cello. In the Huggett Family, Jennifer also dances, sings, and plays half a dozen other instruments, all to a very high standard.  Over the years, her available time to practice the cello has been limited. Now she gets valuable orchestral experience under the baton of Lorin Maazel, Eliot Gardiner, and Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. 

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Fiona with June Baines.  For 30 years after the Huggett Family's professional demise, Fiona played baroque violin in many of London's most successful early music ensembles, including the English Concert, The Jaye Consort, The English Fantasy, and in Paris, Les Musiciens du Louvre.

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Jennifer's high school certificate. Despite the age differences, Ian, Jennifer, and Fiona all graduate high school within a year of each other.

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Jennifer, seen here recording Nielsen's 4th symphony with conductor Rozhdestvensky at BBC studios in London.  The following week she and the orchestra recorded Richard Strauss' Don Juan with Lorin Maazel conducting.

SPRING & SUMMER

The decision is made to move the family base to Toronto to allow closer access to the area's concert and management opportunities and to allow the girls access to the Toronto Musicians Union professional development incentives, available only to its local members. 

 

In May, Margaret and Leslie fly to Canada and find a house near a small lake on the Oak Ridge Moraine. It is a large A-frame home, recently featured in Canadian Homes Magazine, and is quickly christened the "A" House. They will take possession in November. Margaret's brother Dave and his family buy the London home, and twenty-two tea chests are packed with music, books, and research material and sent by sea back to Canada along with the harpsichord which is sent by air.

 

Jennifer stays in London until the end of July, while in June, the rest of the Huggetts fly back to Canada and one last summer at the Aylmer cottage.

 

There are no concerts this summer. In August, Fiona, Jennifer, and Andrew attend a two-week early music seminar in Mount Orford, Quebec. Among those present is the future order of Canada recipient, Tafelmusik's concertmaster Jean Lamon, and world-renowned soprano Dame Emma Kirkby. A separate jazz program is also in progress. Andrew recounts, "The early music program ran parallel with a jazz program that really appealed to me. I had had 11 years of early music under my belt and welcomed the opportunity to learn about something different, so I skipped all the early music events and went to the jazz ones instead." 

 

Leslie and Margaret attend the viol conclave at Wright State University in Dalton, Ohio, which attracts some of America's finest viol players, and Ian spends the summer working with ornithologist Monty Brigham, recording Canadian bird songs. 

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Ornithologist Monty Brigham and Ian recording bird songs. The final recordings are archived with the Macauley Library at Cornell University.

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The "A" House.  Close to Toronto but still very much in the country. The Huggetts moved to the Toronto area to allow the girls access to the Toronto Musicians Union professional development incentives, available only to its local members. 

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Margaret and Leslie, Toshinari Ohashi and Leo Traynor at the international viol conclave at Wright State University in Dalton, Ohio.

FALL CONCERTS

In September, the entire Family gathers at the Aylmer cottage to prepare for the upcoming fall tour.

Andrew is now more involved in the business side of things. He flies to Regina, Vancouver, and Toronto to attend government-sponsored conferences called "Contacts," which allow artist's agents and community concert organizers to meet face to face.

The Huggetts perform a return concert by special request in Port Hope en route to unique series of twelve youth concerts for Lennox and Addington Cultural Events. These are organized by egg farmer turned impresario Hank Rennick. He, with the support of his wife and over many years, introduced thousands of local young people to classical music by organizing concerts by groups like the Huggett Family in local schools. Jennifer recounts, "We stayed in a newly-built cottage on Hank Rennicks Farm on Varty lake near Kingston. It's surrounded by beautiful open country. The Autumn is at its most glorious, and a beaver swims past every morning. We have morning and afternoon concerts, and Mrs. Rennick prepares a gourmet supper for us, which we enjoy with her family, up at the farmhouse at the end of each day. It's a truly delightful week." 

At the end of September, the Huggetts fly to Quebec City, where they perform another return engagement, Queen Elizabeth I And Her Suitors, in French.

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A much appreciated and gracious letter to the Huggetts from school teacher Debby Lumsden.

School concerts were an important part of any concert tour.  Usually, they were an adjunct to evening concerts in the same community, but thanks to Hank and Susie Rennick, the children in Lennox Addington had access to the Huggetts for an entire week.

THE MOVE

Margaret, "It's October, and when we're not honouring our musical commitments, we're packing up for the move to the new Toronto home, which closes the next month. There is furniture from our old Ottawa home, which has been in storage for ten years, instruments, music, reference books, our accumulated Canadian belongings, and the harpsichord, which has already arrived by air from England. It's a formidable task. Leslie drives the 20-footer truck, pulling a large trailer behind, and I will have a second trailer hitched to the car. Andrew comes over to the cottage at daybreak and helps pack everything safely into the available space. All goes well on the drive to Toronto, though backing up the trailers on the hill on reaching our destination is a challenge. Next week the tea chests will arrive by sea and rail."

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ONTARIO CHRISTMAS TOUR

December arrives, and the Huggetts begin their Christmas tour arranged by Hart Murdock Management and Jeunesse Musicales. The first date is in Fredricton, but on leaving day, when the family wakes to catch an earlyflight, they are snowed in at the top of the steep hill on which their new home sits. Their  new neighbor, farmer George Johnson, graciously comes to the rescue and plows them out. 

Margaret, "Having just made our flight, we find Fredericton, which we've not visited before, a very welcoming town. Next, we play in Woodstock. The venue is a large wooden Heritage building with beautiful acoustics. The CBC uses it for live summer broadcasts, but in December, it is cold, and there are drops of rain seeping through here and there. However, we ignore the cold and deliver a heartfelt Christmas show, noting that the audience has kept their coats on!

From Woodstock it's only a short drive to St. Andrews, a stone's throw from the American Border. Over the course of our travels, we have played in so many border towns. The following day we are up betimes, as renaissance diarist Samual Pepys would say, and drive to Saint John to take the ferry across the Bay of Fundy to Digby, Nova Scotia. The tides in this area are the strongest in the world, which is an extraordinary thought. Once across, we continue driving until, after dark, we finally reach Acadia University in Wolfville.


The next day it's on to Dalhousie University in Halifax, where we are met by Janet Covington, a girl who was in Andrews Carl Orff, music class almost 20 years ago. She is now a cellist in the CBC Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. This town is home to a number of viol players, which turn out en-mass, making for a particularly empathetic audience. We fly to Montreal and from there drive to Lennoxvile for a return concert at Bishop's University.

From here, it's into Ontario: St. Lawrence College in Cornwall, the University of Waterloo, Barrie Collegiate (home to the famous and prize-winning band of the same name), Blythe, Sarnia, and finally London, where they perform in the Saint Peter's Basilica. After playing the William Byrd's  The Leaves Be Green, a voice rings out from the audience, "Fantastic!" Such overt responses are unusual at an early music concert.

Our last performance is in Oshawa, on December 8th, which is particularly remembered because it was the day John Lennon was tragically shot. Following the concert, we drive home to the "A" House, which again needs to be plowed out before we can get back in.

The is a moment in every concert where we all sit silently with eyes fixed on Andrew while he plays Dowland's famous Fantasia for Lute. We feel at one with the audience, whom we only see dimly over the footlights. We all breathe with him as he reaches the end of the slow introduction before the lively galliard and sprint to the end, willing him to get the tempo just right, which he always does, of course."

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The "A" House in winter.  The Flight to Fredricton awaits, but the Huggetts can't get out.  George Johnson comes to the rescue with his plow.

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St Peters Basilica, London, Ontario, is a beautiful backdrop for a Huggett Family Christmas show, attracting an overflow crowd.

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The rest of the Family gets to take a break while Andrew performs a lute solo.

THE LONDON FREE PRESS, Monday, Dec. 16, 1980

Huggetts delight crowd

CONCERT REVIEW
By Stephen Brunt
for
The Free Press


The Christmas season seems to bring out the Olde English in all of us, no matter what our origins. In keeping with this spirit, an overflow crowd filled St. Peter's Basilica in London on Saturday night to listen to renaissance music performed by the Huggett Family. 

Although they've never performed in London before, the Huggetts have been spreading the sounds of the 16th century throughout Canada for 11 years. A family in fact. as well as in name, they are composed of husband and wife, Leslie and Margaret, and four of their very talented offspring, Jenny, Fiona, Ian, and Andrew, ranging in age from 19 to 25. The youngest Huggett, Fiona, was performing with the family at the age of eight.

The family has turned a hobby into a full-time occupation, performing almost ten months of the year. |The Huggetts have recorded several albums, all featuring the music which has become something of a family obsession. Each member of the group, aside from singing, dancing, and performing on a variety of renaissance instruments such as krumhorns, viols (a relative of the modern guitar, played with a bow),

recorders, and lute, is responsible for a particular aspect of the performance. |Without trivializing the music or being patronizing toward the audience, various members of the family took turns explaining the origins of the different pieces. Combined with an often humorous commentary on 16th century customs, this created a relaxed and informal atmosphere, delighting even the youngest members of the audience.

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More 1980 reviews here:

1980 programs and press 

MISCILLANEOUS MOMENTS FROM 1980

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Jennifer helps out with the costume making.

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The guinea pigs were constant companions throughout the Huggett Family years.

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Ian doing school work. The three younger Huggetts all graduated high school within a year of each other.

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Fiona, Jennifer, and Andrew arrive at Mount Orford for two weeks of early music.   Andrew soon skips off to the jazz program.

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Fiona with a treble viol. Jennifer holds a krumhorn, recorder, and tabor.

Jennifer enjoys a walk on Hank Rennicks chicken farm after a full day of concerts.

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Andrew played the violin in a support capacity but started learning it too late to make a lifelong career of it as Fiona did.

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Fiona, Jennifer, and Margaret.  All hands on deck in the costume department.

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Margaret at the Aylmer Cottage a few weeks before the big move.

Leslie Huggett. As family photographer photos of him are rare. Jennifer took this picture.

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Fiona with her mentor, teacher, and lifelong friend, June Baines.