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Music Lover James Stewart Dies

The WMCT was truly saddened to hear of the passing of Professor James Stewart, an avid lover of classical music and generous donor. We were indeed fortunate to have our fundraiser at his home, Integral House, last May. It was a very unusual and spectacular venue, and a wonderful concert in support of a significant event in the history of the club – the 10th presentation of the Career Development Award in 2015. Our sincere condolences to James Stewart’s family and friends.

~ Annette Sanger, WMCT president

Click here for his story in Musical Toronto website. 

Click here for Toronto Star obituary.

CDA Fund Raising Concert

People create beauty.

They flex wood into curving shapes and fill that space with glorious sound.
Sitting in the performance space of Integral House as soprano Shannon Mercer sings and Steven Philcox collaborates, you know that this is beauty.

Shannon and Ste-a

Inside view-aOak fins, planes of concrete and 180 degrees of glass look out to the blue sky and the Don Valley where spring has yet to arrive.

And then there is the music.

Shannon Mercer, soprano, and Steven Philcox, piano, bring enchantment with a program she describes as: “a combination of serious and fun”. She sings in five languages. Mozart’s German moves into Villa-Lobos’ Spanish and then to Welsh Folk Songs and American parody – pickles, hot dogs and “meow”. The acoustics are fabulous, holding and releasing the sound – Shannon’s animated expression, clear diction, and soaring melodies supported by Steven’s elegant piano playing. The architecture and the music together create great art.



This Sunday afternoon concert is in Integral House, one of the most stunning modern residences in Toronto, home of James Stewart, mathematician, professor and classical violinist. It is named for the mathematical integral symbol; Stewart was enormously successful writing calculus textbooks. Completed in 2009, it is an architectural feat that combines home and performance space.

Integral House owner James Stewart, WMCT President Annette Sanger, pianist Steven Philcox, soprano Shannon Mercer, artists’ sponsors Hélène and Peter Hunt 

Eighty “lucky souls” are here to support the 10th presentation of the Career Development Award, the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto’s major prize, supporting young Canadian classical musicians embarking on their professional careers.   Financial returns today provide funding for a live competition in Toronto a year from now when three young Canadian musicians will perform in Walter Hall, U of T, for cash awards and a Music in the Afternoon recital. And for today, the audience enjoys the great beauty, while playing a role in ensuring the beauty continues.


121 Poulenc Trio

James Austin Smith, oboe; Bryan Young, bassoon; Irina Kaplan Lande, piano

October 4, 2018 | 1.30 pm | Walter Hall, U of T

The Poulenc Trio is the most active touring piano-wind chamber music ensemble in the world. Since its founding 15 years ago, the trio has performed in 45 U.S. states and at music festivals around the world, from Italy, to Mexico, and Russia. The Trio has a strong commitment to commissioning, performing and recording new works from living composers, and has greatly expanded the repertoire available for the oboe, bassoon and piano. The Trio has garnered high praise for its technique and expressive range and is recognised for intriguing programming and sheer beauty of playing.


Alfred Schnittke – Suite in the Old Style
Viet Cuong – Trains of Thought
Dmitri Shostakovich – Romance, op.97a – A Spin Through Moscow

Mikhail Glinka – Trio pathétique
Francis Poulenc – Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano
André Previn – Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano – iii. Jaunty

Read John Mayo’s Notes

Read Biographical and Programme notes by the Poulenc Trio

Read Robin Elliott’s Review

Tuning Your Mind | 12.15 pm | Walter Hall | Pre-Concert Lecture

Robert Harris speaks about his new books The Stratford Lectures: Ten Perspectives about Music (Stratford Summer Music, 2018) and Song of a Nation (McClelland and Stewart, to be published on October 2nd, 2018).

Robert Harris is a long-time music journalist, writer, teacher, and broadcaster who lives in Toronto. He was the host and producer of I Hear Music, a weekly show on CBC Radio 2, and he created Twenty Pieces of Music That Changed the World for CBC’s The Sunday Edition. He is the author of three books on music and was also, most recently, the classical music critic for the Globe and Mail. Copies of The Stratford Lectures will be available for sale in the Walter Hall lobby.

Read more about the book.

In consideration of those with allergies or sensitivities, please refrain from wearing perfume, cologne, or other scented products at concerts. We share the air: go scent free.

WMCT Artists Get JUNO Nominations

WMCT Performers Nominated for 2016 Juno Awards
The nominees for the 2016 Juno Awards have been announced, and, once again, the lists are packed with artists who have performed for Music in the Afternoon. In the category of Instrumental Album of the Year, two of the five nominees are WMCT alumni.

Afiara Quartet with Caroline Léonardelli
Afiara Quartet with Caroline Léonardelli

Jens Lindemann and Tommy Banks are nominated for “Legacy Live” – Jens played for Music in the Afternoon March 12, 2015. Also nominated is the Afiara Quartet, with Skratch Bastid, for the album “Spin Cycle” – the Afiara Quartet along with Caroline Léonardelli opened the 118th season last October.
Three of the five nominees for Classical Album of the Year have played for the WMCT. Frequent performer and WMCT Career Development Award Winner (1991) James Ehnes is nominated for his album “Franck & Strauss: Violin Sonatas”. James has performed for the WMCT four times – on November 19, 1992; at the Centennial Celebration Concert on May 24, 1998; on December 6, 2007; and at the 115th Anniversary performance at Koerner Hall on May 2, 2013.

Nominated for a recording of “Liszt: Piano Sonatas & Sonnets” is Angela Hewitt who appeared on the WMCT stage first on December 5, 1985, and again at the WMCT Centennial Celebration Concert on May 24, 1998. Also nominated in this category is the Cecilia String Quartet, for their album “Mendelssohn, Op. 44, Nos. 1 & 2”. That group played for the WMCT on March 29, 2012, after winning the Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Carolyn Maule, Russell Braun, James Ehnes  115th Anniversary Concert
Carolyn Maule, Russell Braun, James Ehnes
115th Anniversary Concert

In the category of Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble or Soloist(s) with Large Ensemble, two of the five nominees have played for the WMCT. James Ehnes is nominated for the album “Vivaldi: Four Seasons” which he recorded with the Sydney Symphony. In addition, Stewart Goodyear is nominated for the album “Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 2 & 3” which he recorded with the Czech National Symphony. Stewart appeared on the WMCT stage with James Ehnes on December 6, 2007.

Finally, in the category of Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral Performance, Suzie Leblanc is among the performers on the nominated album “Peter-Anthony Togni: Responsio” recorded with Jeff Reilly, Andrea Ludwig, Charles Daniels and John Potter. Suzie sang for Music in the Afternoon on November 21, 2013 with Les Voix Humaines consort of viols.
You can listen to their award-winning albums – but you can hear them live, first, on the WMCT stage – still, chamber music at its finest.


Each season the WMCT commissions a new chamber work from a Canadian composer for performance during that season’s Music in the Afternoon concerts series. Most scores are available at the Canadian Music Centre.
Fjóla Evans – Moss, premièred by the Aizuri Quartet with Bryan Holt, cello, on February 23, 2023

WMCT commissions:

  • Fjóla Evans – Moss, premièred by the Aizuri Quartet with Bryan Holt, cello, on February 23, 2023
  • Allan Gordon Bell – Solastalgia, premièred by Cameron Crozman, cello, and Philip Chiu, piano, on March 31, 2022
  • Russell Hartenberger – Eagles, premièred by Beverley Johnston, Aiyun Huang, Russell Hartenberger, and Randall Chaves Camacho, percussion, on November 11, 2021
  • Anna Pidgorna – Lekking Birds, premièred by Kornel Wolak, clarinet, Michael Bridge, accordion, and Amahl Arulanandam, cello, on November 12, 2020
  • Kelly-Marie Murphy – Coffee will be Served in the Living Room, for eight cellos, was premièred at “CelloDrama!” on May 3, 2018, and won the 2020 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music.
  • Vivian Fung – Bounce, premièred by James Sommerville, horn, Scott St. John, violin, and Peter Longworth, piano, on November 24, 2016.
  • Zosha di Castri – Near Mute Force, premièred at “Dannthology”, by Steven Dann, viola, and friends and family on April 7, 2016.
  • Christopher Mayo – Twentieth Century Ikon, premièred by Ensemble Made in Canada, on May 7, 2015
  • Christos Hatzis – Atonement, premièred by Yegor Dyachkov, cello, and Jean Saulnier, piano, on March 20, 2014
  • John Estacio – Song cycle Away and Awake in the Night, premièred by James Ehnes, violin, Russell Braun, baritone, and Carolyn Maule, piano, May 2, 2013
  • Chris Paul Harman – Sonatine, premièred by Robert Aitken, flute, and Simon Fryer, cello, October 27,  2011
  • Timothy Corlis – Raven and the first Men,  for clarinet, strings, and images, premièred by James Campbell, clarinet, and the New Zealand String Quartet, October 14,  2010
  • Glenn Buhr – String quartet no. 4 (2010), premièred by the Penderecki String Quartet, March 25, 2010
  • Larysa Kuzmenko – Fantasy for cello, premièred by Kaori Yamagami, November 20, 2008
  • Stewart Goodyear – Dogged By Hell Hounds (a tribute to bluesman Robert Johnson), premièred by Stewart Goodyear, piano, December 6, 2007
  • Barbara Croall – Bigiiwe (She is Coming Home), premièred by Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano, and Gregory Oh, piano, April 26, 2007
  • Alexander Rapoport – Variationen ohne Worte, premièred by Meredith Hall, soprano, and Bernard Farley, guitar, April 20, 2006
  • Chan Ka Nin – Rhythm of Life, premièred by Sonia Chan, piano, February 3, 2005
  • Donald Coakley – Fanfare for a Festive Anniversary, commissioned for the WMCT’s gala Centennial Celebration Concert, performed in the lobby of the George Weston Recital Hall by Chris Howells, trumpet and leader, Shawn Moody, trumpet, Toni Carlucci, trumpet, Allistar Gaskin, trombone, and Douglas Gibson, trombone, on May 24, 1998
  • Jacques Hétu – Fantaisie for piano, Op. 59, imposed work for the 1997 Career Development Award competition, premièred by Jeanie Chung on November 27, 1997
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