Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls, Ontario. City first settled in 1782, adjacent to and named after the seventh wonder of the world, and situated directly across the Canadian-US border from Niagara Falls, NY. Originally composed of three settlements (Drummondville, Clifton, and Elgin) it took the name Niagara Falls in 1861 and was incorporated as a city in 1904. By 1986 it had a population of around 72,000 and was long established as a major tourist centre.

In the 20th century, notable musicians and ensemble directors have included Charles Buff, Gordon Mitchell, Harold Jones, and Donald Gill. In 1929 the 40-member Temple Male Choir, directed by Walter McDowell, was founded under the auspices of the Masons. It gave two regular concerts a year, competed in Ontario music festivals, and ceased operations in 1943 because of the war. Chautauqua visited the city in the early 1930s. Local groups active before World War II were the Niagara Falls Male Voice Choir and the Niagara Falls Choral Society. The Niagara Falls Kiltie Band, attached to the Canadian Corps, unit 104, presented about 35 concerts annually during the war.

The Community Concerts organization, active 1949-75 in Niagara Falls, presented many noted artists - eg, Glenn Gould and Teresa Stratas. In 1975 a volunteer group called Niagara Concerts assumed that function, presenting such ensembles as the TS, the Georgian Trio on its first tour outside the USSR, the COC, the National Ballet of Canada, and the Elmer Iseler Singers.

For many years the Oratorio Society has given annual performances of Messiah, in earlier days with such singers as the young James Milligan and Jon Vickers. Other concerts have been given by the Niagara Falls Music Teachers' Association and by the Gentlemen Songsters, the Fred Willett Concert Band, the Rainbow Tones Barbershop Group, the Harmony Bell Tone Ringers, and the Music Theatre Company. The Chopin scholar Mateusz Glinski conducted a Niagara SO in the late 1960s. During the 1970s the St Catharines SO (Niagara Symphony Orchestra) served the entire Niagara region including Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls Kiwanis Music Competition Festival, founded in 1926, became one of the largest in Ontario.

Niagara Falls resident Lucille Hilston (b Detroit, Mich 15 Apr 1919) is the composer of 'Boost Niagara,' (1965), 'Our Niagara Honeymoon,' (1971) and the tone poem Onghiara (1962). She has arranged her 1990 song 'Happy Birthday, Canada' for various ensembles. Niagara Falls is the birthplace of Nathaniel Dett, James Fusco, Kathleen Howard, Alexander 'Ragtime' Read, the pianists Kathleen and Jane Solose, and the soprano Penny Speedie. The 55 bells of the Rainbow Tower carillon (one of 11 in Canada) were installed in 1947. June Hamilton, Robert Donnell, and Leland Richardson have served as carillonneurs.

See also Niagara Falls in music.