PREVIEW | The Women’s Musical Club Of Toronto Outlasts Them All

By Michael Vincent on September 16, 2022

Michael Bridge (Photo: Bo Huang)

Still in bloom after all these years, the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto (WMCT) has announced details of its 125th-anniversary season kicking off this October 2022.

Throughout those 125 years, […] the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto has demonstrated a continuous and substantial connection to our city, to Canadian and international artists, and to the global canon of musical creation,” said WMCT Artistic Director Simon Fryer. “Our upcoming anniversary season highlights these connections in a contemporary format and explores the continuity of our committed approach in integrated and immersive style.”

Past meets present

First the first time ever, the WMCT has curated a series of concerts that pair artists alongside their mentors on stage. You’ll hear the 2021 WMCT Career Development Award winner, Michael Bridge, performing with classical accordion pioneer Joseph Macerollo. Members of the Quatuor Despax will also join Dover Quartet violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt and OSM and New Orford Quartet cellist Brian Manker.

Exploring the context of music-making is fundamental to understanding why music from specific periods sounds so particular.

To anchor this point, the WMCT will feature works from one of the last five periods. They will have Music historian Robin Elliott on hand to help frame each of the works against life in Toronto.

  • 1899 to 1923: the super-romantic string sextet Verklärte Nacht (“Transfigured Night”), by Arnold Schoenberg
  • 1924 to 1948: Five Pieces for String Quartet, by Erwin Schulhoff, a Jewish composer whose career was abruptly terminated during the Holocaust
  • 1949 to 1973: a song from Frank Loesser’s classic American musical comedy Guys and Dolls
  • 1974 to 1998: Et exspecto, for solo accordion, by Sofia Gubaidulina, who struggled to create in the last repressive years of the Soviet Union
  • 1999 to 2023: Premiere of a 2-cello string quintet by Icelandic-Canadian Fjóla Evans, continuing the WMCT’s tradition of commissioning new works

Present meets future

One of the most interesting things about the WMCT is the commitment to exploring current artists. This includes a long tradition of inviting upcoming chamber artists to present their works in an intimate setting.

This season, the WMCT will present: 

  • Composer Fjóla Evans will showcase the historical repertoire contributing to her current expression.
  • Prominent Kwagiulth and Stó:lo First Nations mezzo-soprano Marion Newman with two new-generation singers — Indigenous artists engage the western canon.
  • Violinist Mark Fewer assembles talented friends to present a 19th-century classic for solo violin, string quartet and piano.

Why the WMCT is so special

One of Canada’s oldest music groups, the WMCT was formed by a small but mighty group of female musicians and music lovers in 1898. They started performing for one another with weekly morning recitals. Eventually, the club began showcasing ensembles and local professionals, including Ernest MacMillan and Harry Adaskin. They created a scholarship fund that still exists today to support undergraduate and graduate scholarships and a $25,000 Career Development Award.

Now 125 years later, the WMCT continues to enrich Toronto’s cultural landscape by supporting a recital series, giving young Canadian musicians opportunities to perform, and awarding scholarships.

Full 125th season details and tickets here.

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Michael Vincent
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