120 Years of History
In 1898 a group of women musicians and music lovers founded the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto. More than a century 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 one that welcomes men. Now thirteen per cent of the membership is male.
Originally WMCT members performed in weekly morning recitals. By 1919 the club presented professional artists such as Sir 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 $15,000 Career Development Award.
The first 100 years were celebrated with a gala concert on May 24, 1999, featuring Russell Braun, James Ehnes, Angela Hewitt, Catherine Robbin, and Michael Schade, artists supported by the WMCT in their early careers, as well as the then most recent Career Development Award winner, Jeanie Chung, piano.
Counterpoint to a City: The First One Hundred Years of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto, written by Dr. Robin Elliott, was commissioned and published by the WMCT to mark this auspicious occasion.
The 110th year celebration concert series in the 2007-2008 season, directed by Emmy and Walter Homburger, was a sold-out success.
In 2010 the concert series included a performance in the newly opened Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory of Music, with acclaimed Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian.
The 115th anniversary season saw the WMCT return to Koerner Hall on May 2, 2013, with a concert which featured Canadian favourites baritone Russell Braun and violinist James Ehnes, accompanied by pianist Carolyn Maule and included the world premiere of the song cycle “Away and Awake in the Night” for baritone, violin, and piano, commissioned by the WMCT from Canadian composer John Estacio, with text by his long-time collaborator, John Murrell.
Counterpoint to a City: The First One Hundred Years of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto by Robin Elliott, published by ECW Press (1997).
Counterpoint Continued: Revisions and Updates to the History of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto by Robin Elliott, published by the WMCT (2008).
History of Concerts and Performers of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto by Hanna & Fred Feuerriegel, is an indexed list of concerts, performers, and repertoires of WMCT seasons, including the most recent. (pdf)
Concert History 2018
These publications are available for sale from the WMCT; please call 416-923-7052 for pricing and to order. (The print edition of History of Concerts and Performers is current to the end of the 105th season, 2002-2003.)
Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Archives
Serious students, scholars, and researchers are invited to view the WMCT archival material. It is housed in the Special Collections of the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street (one block north of the Bloor-Yonge Subway Station). For more information contact Lee Ramsay in the Performing Arts section of the library at 416-393-7013.
Photo: Anna Farini, 1907-1908 President of the WMCT