Women's Musical Club of Winnipeg

Women's Musical Club of Winnipeg. In 1990 the fifth-oldest existing club of its kind in Canada. It began informally in 1894 when six women - Mrs Gerald F. Brophy, Mrs L.A. Hamilton, Mrs H.A. Higginson, Mrs Angus Kirkland, Mrs F.H. Matthewson, and Mrs Fred Stobart - met weekly in one of their homes. The first general meeting was held in 1897, and a constitution was adopted in 1899. Mrs Kirkland was the first president, 1897-9. Membership, which in the 1930s reached a peak of 850 but later dropped to 350, was opened to men in 1965, and later season tickets rather than memberships were offered. The club has encouraged the advancement of music mainly through establishing and maintaining a high standard in its annual recital series.

In earlier years it presented, among others, the singers Clara Butt, Amelita Galli-Curci, Nellie Melba (1910), Lily Pons, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Eva Tetrazzini, Richard Crooks, John McCormack, and Lauritz Melchior; the pianists Percy Grainger, Ignace Jan Paderewski, and Sergei Rachmaninoff; and the violinist Mischa Elman. In later years the growing prominence of Canadian artists was reflected in the increasing number who appeared in the club's recitals, though not to the exclusion of guests from abroad. Among the musicians who have appeared are the singers Maureen Forrester, Marguerite Gignac, Rosemarie Landry, Lois Marshall, Mark Pedrotti, Leontyne Price, Teresa Stratas, and Edith Wiens; the pianists Claudio Arrau, Glenn Gould, Diedre Irons, Louis Lortie, Arthur Ozolins, Ross Pratt, Freda Trepel Kaufmann, Andrew Tunis, and Mark Zeltser; the violinists Nathan Milstein and Peter Zazofsky; the cellists Ofra Harnoy, Stephen Isserlis, Zara Nelsova, Mstislav Rostropovich, Peggie Sampson, and Eric Wilson; and the Orford String Quartet. Such important Winnipeg musicians as Gwendda Owen Davies, Cécile Henderson, Phyllis Holtby, Roline Mackidd, and Snjolaug Sigurdson also have given recitals for the club.

Held formerly in the concert hall of the Winnipeg Auditorium, the series moved in 1965 to the concert hall of St Mary's Academy and in 1973 to Muriel Richardson Auditorium in the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Besides concerts the club in 1991 has continued to offer annual scholarships to young Manitoba musicians chosen by audition, the winners being presented in recital. Winona Lightcap, later a prominent Winnipeg performer and teacher, was the first recipient in 1915. Other winners have included Deborah Arnason, Tracy Dahl, Laurie Duncan, Flora Matheson Goulden, Donna Grescoe, Ruth Campbell Gairdner, Frederick Grinke, Roberta Janzen, Maria Loscerbo, Karen Neary, Margot Sim, Keri-Lynn Wilson, and Sydney Young McInnis. Many former winners have returned in subsequent years as seasoned recitalists to perform for the club.