Nunc dimittis

January 1, 2018

Nunc Dimittis

Margaret Smith McAlister died September 11, 2017. Born November 20, 1923, she was a lifelong resident of Tampa, Florida. McAlister’s early organ study began at the age of 13 with Nella Crandall, organist of First Christian Church, Tampa. At age 14, McAlister became organist at Highland Avenue Methodist Church. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music education and a certificate in organ studies from Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University), where she studied with Margaret Whitney Dow and Ramona Beard. Her organ studies continued as a graduate student at The Juilliard School in New York City with Vernon de Tar.

In 1947, McAlister became organist at First Presbyterian Church, Tampa, where she served faithfully until her retirement in 2012. During her 65-year tenure at the church, she also served as music director at various times. She served two terms as dean of the Tampa Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and several terms as AGO district convener for Florida. Each year, the Tampa Chapter of the AGO provides a scholarship in McAlister’s name to a local organ student. 

McAlister was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, national music honorary, and was a member of the music faculties at University of Tampa and Clearwater Christian College. She served as music department accompanist for 25 years at Hillsborough Community College, Ybor Campus, Tampa. McAlister served as state chairman and member of the national executive board of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and was a Certified Associate Church Musician in that organization. McAlister also served as a member of the worship subcommittee of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay.

Margaret Smith McAlister is survived by a sister, six children, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. A funeral service was held September 23 at First Presbyterian Church, Tampa. The choir, which she had accompanied for 65 years, performed her favorite anthem, My Eternal King, by Jane Marshall, as well as two responses composed by McAlister.


Hugh John McLean, organist, choirmaster, and musicologist, died July 30, 2017, in Naples, Florida. He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on January 5, 1930. McLean began organ study as a teenager with Hugh Bancroft in Vancouver. At age 15, he was appointed organist to St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg, and at 17, presented his first broadcast organ recital on CBC. Attending the Royal College of Music, England, on an organ scholarship in 1949, studying with Arthur Benjamin (piano), William Harris (organ), and W. S. Lloyd Webber (composition), McLean was the first Canadian to be named Mann Organ Scholar at King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, under Boris Ord, 1951–1956. He made his London debut in 1955 at the Royal Festival Hall with Adrian Boult and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere of Malcolm Arnold’s Organ Concerto, a command performance in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II. Returning to Vancouver, Hugh served as organist and choirmaster at Ryerson United Church (1957–1973). He founded and conducted the Vancouver Cantata Singers, the Hugh McLean Consort, and the CBC Vancouver Singers. He taught at the universities of Victoria (1967–1969) and British Columbia (1969–1973) before joining the faculty of music at the University of Western Ontario, London. While at Western (1973–1995) he served as dean (1973–1980) and taught organ, harpsichord, and music history. During his tenure as organist at St. John the Evangelist, London, he collaborated with organbuilder Gabriel Kney on the installation of an organ for the church, and again for the Roy Thompson Hall organ, Toronto, performing at the instrument’s inaugural gala concert in 1985.

McLean retired from University of Western Ontario to assume the post of organist and choirmaster at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Winter Park, Florida (1995–2010). The parish Senior Choir undertook four summer sojourns as guest choir in residence in Anglican cathedrals of the UK and Ireland. In addition to broadcasts on the CBC, McLean also broadcast with the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Swiss Radio, and NHK Japan. The first Canadian organist to tour the USSR, he also performed in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and two of Bach’s churches (Muhlhausen and Leipzig’s Thomaskirche). He gave many Canadian premieres including Hindemith’s Organ Concertos No. 1 and No. 2, Vancouver (1970–1972) and appeared as organ soloist with the Toronto Symphony in 1979, 1982, and 1985. Specializing in 17th- and 18th-century musicology studies and awarded Canada Council grants to research at archives in Japan, Poland, and the the former East Germany, he served on the editorial board of the new C. P. E. Bach edition and wrote 19 articles for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Hugh John McLean is survived by his wife, Florence Anne, and their children, Ross Alan and Olivia Anne, his sons Robert Andreas, John Stuart, and Hugh Dundas (by his late wife, Gunlaug Julie Gaberg), nine grandchildren, two sisters, and several nieces and nephews.