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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:53 pm  Post subject:  Looking back :: Eleanor Beardall-Alexander Reply with quoteBottom of PageBack to top

Eleanor Beardall-Alexander was a concert pianist, classical organist, music teacher and long-time Zontian from Chatham, who also served as President of the club. Upon graduating from Alma College for Ladies in 1943, Eleanor received the Sisk Memorial Scholarship to continue her studies in music at the Royal Conservatory at the University of Toronto. There she received her A.R.C.T. in performance and teaching, her L.R.C.T., and a Bachelor of Music (piano performance, 1951). When she enrolled at the Conservatory, she was one of 13 students chosen to work in the studio of concert virtuoso Alberto Guerrero, which included future luminaries such as Glenn Gould.

After graduating from the U of T, the provincial government (Dept. of Education) chose Eleanor to conduct a classical concert tour in 15 cities throughout Ontario, after which she continued to perform in the Toronto area as a featured artist in Guerrero's Studio. During this time, Eleanor also performed in England, and appeared on radio and television in the Caribbean. She then received an invitation to become head of music at Ontario Ladies’ College in Whitby, the province's premier private school for young women.

While at Whitby, Eleanor frequently performed at the Concert Hall and on radio station CKLB, which broadcast throughout Central Ontario, while also contributing to programming at the CBC in Toronto. In 1955, she returned to Chatham to continue working in the family business, radio station CFCO, which was founded and owned by her father, Jack Beardall. At CFCO she had been writing, producing and performing her own classical programs, as well as cutting records in-studio, since the mid-40s.

After the sale of CFCO in 1962, Eleanor pursued studies in classical organ with Dr. Charles Peaker of the faculty of music at U of T, as well as Dr. Melville Cook and Mr. Barrie Cabena, Fellows of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. By 1971, Eleanor had successfully completed all exams qualifying her to become an Associate of the College, graduating with Honours. At the time, only 50 Canadians held this coveted degree.

In 1968, Eleanor accepted an offer to become a music specialist for the Kent County Board of Education and continued to expand her private studio, taking on students in both piano and organ. As well, she served as the organist and choir director for Holy Trinity Church for eight years. Eleanor continued teaching until she retired in 1986 due to illness.

After her death in 1988, the Zonta club established an award in Eleanor's memory to be presented annually to a young girl at the Festival, where so many of her students had performed over the years. Eleanor's only child, Michael, a lawyer based in Toronto, still has his mother's favourite piano, a 1947 Steinway grand with accelerated key action.


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