In 1898 a group of women musicians and music lovers founded the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto. Members performed for each other in weekly morning recitals. By 1919 the club presented professional artists such as Ernest MacMillan and Harry Adaskin as well as varied ensembles. During the 1930s a special series of three concerts grossed $772.37 – the root of a scholarship fund which continues today supporting undergraduate scholarships, a graduate fellowship, and the national $25,000 Career Development Award. 125 years later it still enhances the cultural life of Toronto, sponsoring a recital series and providing performance opportunities and scholarships for young Canadian musicians. Over the years it changed from a “women only” club to an arts presenter welcoming everyone.
Music in the Afternoon, an annual series of five chamber music concerts, showcases both established and emerging artists. International stars Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Andres Segovia, and Leontyne Price made their Canadian debuts. James Ehnes, Russell Braun, Glenn Gould, and Maureen Forrester are among the illustrious Canadians who have been presented. The History of Concerts and Performers of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto is a complete searchable record of performers and repertoire presented from 1898 to 2023.
The Women’s Musical Club of Toronto was established in 1898 to “promote and encourage the study, practice, and knowledge of music in Toronto.”
The WMCT fulfills this mandate:
- by presenting an annual series of chamber music concerts (Music in the Afternoon) performed by Canadian and international artists, both established and emerging. As well as thoughtful and virtuosic performances of standard repertoire, each season offers lesser-known music, unconventional instrumental combinations, and complementary technology such as surtitles or video content.
- by ensuring that programs and decision-making are inclusive and reflect all elements of Toronto, particularly underserved and equity-seeking groups. Artist-led workshops, events for special audiences, and enriching pre-concert lectures reach out to the whole community.
- by supporting the local music education of young Canadians with scholarships and fellowships, and by offering free admission to secondary and post-secondary students.
- by giving its Career Development Award to a young Canadian professional every three years (a $25,000 prize and an engagement to perform in the following season).
- by funding an annual commission and première performance of a chamber work by a Canadian composer.
Students from Unionville enjoyed Marion Newman’s concert.
Outreach includes inviting a public secondary school group to every concert, with the support of a generous donor. All local post-secondary music students are offered free admission.