In 1901, JMC membership comprised twelve girls, aged ten to seventeen, who held musicales in each other's homes. The club was modelled after the Women's Musical Club, whose members served as honorary presidents overseeing administrative duties. The children themselves took on the executive positions of president and secretary in the club's early years, but later the executive consisted entirely of parents and music teachers.
The JMC had one hundred members by the time it adopted its first constitution in 1919. The first musical youth group in Canada, the club caught the attention of young musicians in other cities - namely Brandon, Calgary, and Thamesville - who wished to start their own clubs and requested copies of the JMC Constitution. Membership was opened to boys in the 1930s and peaked at four hundred and seventy-five members in 1933. To accommodate its growing membership, from 1909 the club used many larger public venues including the luxurious Fort Garry Hotel and the University of Manitoba School of Music's Eva Clare Hall.
Starting in the 1930s, JMC members performed on numerous local radio broadcasts, notably for CFAM Radio Southern Manitoba from 1959 to 2008. From the 1950s, the JMC featured its top performers in an annual recital for the Wednesday Morning Musicale. Beginning in 1932, the Junior Musical Club Trophy was awarded annually to the best grade-nine instrumentalist in the Winnipeg Music Festival and from 2002, a cash award accompanied the trophy. The winner of the annual JMC Concerto Competition received the honour of performing with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra or, in the club's later years, the Winnipeg Youth Symphony. The JMC's major event, the Annual Spring Concert, began officially in 1944 but evolved from a precursory annual spring meeting and concert held since the club's early days. The concert featured the season's winners of the JMC Scholarship Competition (junior, intermediate, and senior) and Composers' Competition; the Junior Musical Club Trophy winner also performed if the winner was a JMC member. The CFAM Radio Southern Manitoba Trophy along with a cash prize was awarded to the best senior performer at the Annual Spring Concert, where the Margaret Hamilton Bach Trophy and the Ruth Gordon Memorial Trophy were also awarded to the best intermediate and junior performers respectively.
The JMC was active in the community, performing for children's shelters, seniors' homes, and other charities. As a patriotic gesture, the club added "O Canada" and "God Save the King" to concert programs at the end of World War II. In 1917, the JMC purchased a Canadian Victory Bond, which was transferred to a trust fund in 1938. In celebration of its centennial anniversary in 2001, the club commissioned and independently published A History of the Junior Musical Club of Winnipeg, 1901-2001, by Kirk King.
A shortage of volunteers, coupled with the perception that the need for the JMC had come to be fulfilled by other organizations, led to the club's dissolution in 2008. The JMC donated its remaining funds of some five thousand dollars to the Winnipeg Music Festival in order that the Festival may award in perpetuity the Junior Musical Club Trophy and its accompanying cash prize. Former JMC members who have become renowned professional musicians include Valdine Anderson, Emanuel Ax, Martin Beaver, Tracy Dahl, Laurie Duncan, Douglas Finch, Diedre Irons, Chantal Kreviazuk, David Moroz, Zara Nelsova, Victor Schultz, Gwen Thompson, Eric Wilson, and Keri-Lynn Wilson.
Author Kirk King
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