Obituary of Margaret Jessie Halliwell
Margaret Jessie Halliwell
It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Margaret Halliwell. She died on December 31, 2023 in hospital with her loving husband Don MacDonald by her side. Margaret had been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) at the end of November
after months of progressively worsening symptoms. In the final weeks of her illness, she was surrounded by her loving family and friends who shared with her their music and immense love.
Margaret had an infectious laugh, a passion for life, an adventurous spirit, and a kind, receptive temperament that made her the most generous listener and greatest of friends. She was dedicated to piano pedagogy and ran a thriving music studio for over 40 years. Believing in the importance of early music education, she brought to her studio and her students an exceptional musicality and a commitment to approaching children both as musicians and people. She could spend hours discussing the details of a phrase, the subtle motions of the wrist, or the colour of the melody. Her care for music took her to pedagogy conferences across Canada and the US, and her effusive love of teaching allowed her to serve as mentor to her colleagues and friends.
Over the course of her career, Margaret received countless awards and distinctions for her playing including the Alma Cockburn Award and a full scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts. After graduating in piano performance with high distinction from the Royal
Conservatory of Music, Margaret completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and continued her studies with Yolande Wrigley in London, England. She worked as a collaborative pianist, a musical consultant for TV and film, a mentor teacher for students in the Glenn Gould School of Music, alongside as clinician and guest teacher at masterclasses. She was on the Board of Examiners for the Royal Conservatory of Music and helped select and edit the Fredrick Harris conservatory syllabus. She also adjudicated at music festivals from coast to coast. Under her guidance, hundreds of students have achieved local, provincial
and national honours, pursued professional music careers, and continued a lifelong love of music.
Margaret’s passion for life extended far beyond the music studio. Her aesthetic vision and personal style run throughout her warm and welcoming home, a testament both to her elegance and sense of whimsy, including her legendary collection of Emma Bridgewater
mugs. Her interest in ideas, culture, aesthetics and literature took her across Canada, the United States and Europe. She adored her frequent visits to Southampton, Ontario with her family and dear friend MaryDean Morrison. Some of her fondest memories are from the
weeks she spent travelling across the UK by bicycle with Don. Over the last two years she embarked on a three-week hike on England’s SouthWest Coastal Path, visited family in Arizona, and took a five-week trip through Italy and France. Born in St. Catherines on December 10th, 1951 to her mother Helen Halliwell, father Percy Halliwell and siblings Jane Deer and John Halliwell, she leaves behind her beloved husband Don MacDonald, her two daughters Emily Halliwell-MacDonald and Shannon Halliwell- MacDonald, brother John Halliwell, nieces and nephews and countless family, friends, colleagues, and students.
We would like to thank the tremendous number of generous friends, family, and colleagues who have and continue to help us during this incredibly difficult time. A never-ending stream of visitors came to see Margaret while she was ill. Friends and family helped feed us and
provided untold comfort, emotional support and music. We received an incredibly generous outpouring of support from our Go-Fund-Me. All of these supports have enabled us to help Margaret when she most needed it, and celebrate Margaret’s life in the way she deserves.
We always imagined that Margaret would have another twenty years of life and go on to educate another generation of pianists. It is tragic that she has been unable to do so. But she lived her life as fully and completely as anyone could ask for. Even during the worst stages of her illness, she expressed a truly exceptional concern not for herself, but for how her illness affected others.
Though we wish she was still here with us, she has shaped us all for the better and we are forever grateful for the gift that was her life.
Margaret’s Celebration of Life and Memorial
11am on February 24th, 2024 with Reception to Follow
Grace Church on-the-hill
300 Lonsdale Rd, Toronto, ON M4V 1X4
All are welcome to attend
A livestream link is available below
In lieu of flowers, we will be setting up a fund for a music scholarship in Margaret's name.
Once this is available, we welcome donations.