Charles Albert Edward Harriss

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Born: 1862

Died: 1929


Charles Albert Edward Harriss was born in London, England, son of Edwin Harriss, an organist, choir master, and concert manager. He was a chorister at St. Mark’s, Wrexham, where his father was organist. He studied with his father, and then was an Ouseley scholar at St. Michael’s College, Tenbury. He began his career as choir director at St John’s in Wrexham, Wales; he apprenticed at St. Giles, Reading; then become organist in Welshpool, Wales. In 1882, he emigrated to Canada to accept the position of organist at the Church of St. Alban the Martyr in Ottawa. He soon moved to Montreal to become organist and choir master at Christ Church Cathedral, then succeeded his father at the Church of St. James the Apostle in Montreal. He and his father gave joint recitals, taught privately, conducted choral groups, and managed concerts. His lifelong quest was to establish British musical excellence in Canada and in other parts of the empire. His efforts on large-scale productions was helped by his marriage to Ella Frances Beatty, the widow of wealthy Ohio manufacturer George K. Shoenberger, who helped to obtain patronage and provide the necessary capital. In 1903, McGill University appointed him honorary director of a system of musical examination centres which had been set up by McGill in conjunction with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in London. He was then appointed as the first director of the McGill Conservatorium of Music. He continued to organize many concerts, conduct and compose. He created musical societies, was a concert performer and impresario. He died in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Many of his compositions have been lost.

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