Smyth Humphreys

(Andrew) Smyth Humphreys. Violist, born Liverpool 27 Sep 1910, died Richmond, BC 15 Apr 1997; ARCM 1932. Taken to Canada at one, Humphreys was raised in Chilliwack, BC, where he studied violin with his father, John (Percival), and piano with his mother, Nellie. Both parents were representatives of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, and his mother in particular was instrumental in the development of music in the Fraser Valley. He studied with Maurice Sons at the RCM in London, winning the 1928 gold medal for violin.

His association there with Lionel Tertis stimulated his interest in viola. Humphreys returned in 1932 to British Columbia, where he trained school orchestras and conducted chamber concerts in Victoria before serving 1934-76 in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as a violinist. He switched to viola in 1937 and was principal 1949-69 and 1973-6 and deputy principal 1969-73. He was the viola 1947-56 of the de Rimanoczy Quartet and 1958-66 of the Vancouver String Quartet, guest second viola with the Hungarian Quartet in a Mozart quintet series at the 1958 Vancouver International Festival, and a collaborator with Oscar Shumsky in chamber-music concerts at the Stratford Festival. He was principal viola 1942-73 of the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra and later of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, and he continued to play in various chamber and orchestral groups until his retirement in the 1980s. With the pianist Hugh McLean he recorded Barbara Pentland'sDuo, William Keith Rogers' Sonatina, and Britten's Lachrymae (1967, RCI 223/RCA CCS 1017). Humphreys taught privately in Vancouver until the mid-1950s. He also adjudicated in Vancouver and for the Western Board of Music (WBM).