Audrey Farnell | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Audrey Farnell

Audrey Bernice Farnell, soprano, teacher (born 28 July 1921 in Amherst, NS; died 11 September 1995 in Toronto, ON). Audrey Farnell enjoyed a prominent career as both a soloist and recitalist. After winning the 1945–46 Singing Stars of Tomorrow competition, she performed with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Montreal Elgar Choir, the Halifax Choral Society and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, among others. She also performed for Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip during their first Royal Tour of Canada in 1951. Farnell later taught at the Alberta College Music Centre and at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Education and Early Career

Audrey Farnell studied 1937–40 at the Mount Allison Conservatory with Ethel Peake and 1942–45 at the TCM (RCMT) with George Lambert. She was a winner in the 1945–46 Singing Stars of Tomorrow competition. She continued her training 1946–48 with Lotte Leonard in New York and 1957–58 with Roy Henderson at the RAM. She sang 1949–51 with the Nova Scotia Opera Association and starred on CBC Halifax radio's Songs by Audrey Farnell (1951) and, with Leonard Mayoh, on Sketches of Songs (1952).

Performance Career Highlights

A highlight of Farnell’s career came on 7 November 1951, when she and pianist Howard Brown performed for Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Government House in Halifax. (See also Royal Tours of Canada.) Farnell was also a soloist with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Ottawa Choral Union, the Montreal Elgar Choir, the Halifax Choral Society, the Hamilton Bach Choir, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Poulenc's Gloria under Charles Munch at the Vancouver International Festival, 1 July 1964). As a recitalist, she toured frequently in the Maritimes and performed in many other Canadian centres and on CBC radio's Distinguished Artists and CBC Wednesday Night. She was heard as Lilla on the CBC Vancouver (Chamber) Orchestra recording of Martin y Soler's opera, Una Cosa Rara (CBC SM-217).

Teaching Career

She taught 1978–79 at the Alberta College Music Centre, then began teaching in 1979 at the RCMT and was a consultant for its voice syllabus published in 1991. In many years of teaching, Farnell's pupils included Gaelyne Gabora and others active in the profession.

Challenge yourself - take the CC Quiz!

The Canadian Encyclopedia is a project of Historica Canada, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization devoted to teaching Canadians more about our shared country.  We also produce the Heritage Minutes and other programs. If you believe all Canadians should have access to free, impartial, fact-checked, regularly updated information about Canada’s history and culture in both official languages, please consider donating today. All donations above $3 will receive a tax receipt.

Book a Speaker