The Leslie Bell Singers Alumnae and friends of the late Dr. Leslie Richard Bell established the Leslie Bell Scholarship Fund in 1971 as a lasting tribute to their late conductor. The award supports choral conductors in furthering their professional careers and enhancing their choral conducting abilities.
A jury of up to five recognized Ontario-based music professionals is responsible for selecting the award winner.
The Ontario Arts Council manages the selection process.
The OAC awards office does not accept unsolicited nominations for this award.
Leslie Richard Bell, born in Toronto in 1906, was a choir conductor, educator, writer, arranger and composer. Bell received a BA (1930) and MA (1931) from the University of Toronto and a D MUS (1946) from the University of Montreal. Between 1917 and 1925 he studied clarinet and saxophone at the Royal Conservatory of Music with Frederick Horwood and Louis Waizman, and played in the orchestras of Luigi Romanelli and Joe DeCourcy. His work in these orchestras prepared him for creating his own dance band.
From 1935 to 1939 Bell taught English, history and music at Parkdale Collegiate Institute in Toronto. During his time at Parkdale he founded an all-girls choir called the Alumnae Singers, later renamed the Leslie Bell Singers. He was president of the music section of the Ontario Education Association from 1938 to 1941 and chairman of the music department at the Ontario College of Education from 1939 to 1948; he taught classes at both Queens University and the University of Toronto.
In the later part of his career, Bell divided his time between conducting, writing and broadcasting. Bell was a music columnist for the Toronto Daily Star from 1946 to 1962, associate editor in charge of music education for the Canadian Music Journal from 1958 to 1962, radio commentator for the CBC and CFRB in Toronto, and a contributor to numerous other publications. In 1959 Bell co-founded and was the first executive director of the Canadian Music Educators Association. During his life, Bell wrote several choral works for female and mixed groups, published by Canadian Music Sales and Mills, and many folk song arrangements published by Canadian Music Sales, G.V. Thompson, Shawnee Press and Summy; he published "Variations on a French Noël" for a string quartet.