The Foundation logo, based on the original WMCT image
The Yonge Street Arcade where in January 1899 in the private music studio of Mary Hewitt Smart the earliest recitals of the Women's Musical Club of Toronto were held.
Mary Henderson Flett Dickson was the first and longest-serving president of the WMCT. She held office in split terms - 1899 to 1904; then 1914 to 1918.
Anna Farini, 1907- 08 President of the WMCT, was an impressive pianist, composer and essayist. Unlike most executive members of the WMCT who were married to influential, monied men, Madame Farini was married to a tightrope walker!
Celebrated British pianist Dame Myra Hess on her first North American tour played in a 1923 WMCT Silver Anniversary Concert at the Assembly Hall of the King Edward Hotel.
The WMCT brought the acclaimed Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti to Toronto for his Canadian debut. “Szigeti has an art that appeals to the more fastidious audiences, to those with a taste for classical purity of style and aloof musicianship,” claimed a review of the 1926 concert.
Boris Hambourg was a Russian cellist who made his career in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Becoming a Canadian citizen in 1910 and settling in Toronto, he became the Director of the Hambourg Conservatory of Music and a member of the Hambourg String Quartet.
Claire Dux was a Polish soprano who performed in the 1929-30 season. She studied in Berlin, made her début at the Berlin Royal Opera, and became famous throughout Europe and the United States. Her voice was a lyric soprano of remarkable purity with a firm technique and exquisite pianissimo.
The French mezzo soprano Madeleine Grey was heard for the first time in Canada in a 1931 WMCT recital of folk songs and modern French music. Maurice Ravel wrote, “She is one of the most remarkable interpreters: an attractive voice, fairly powerful, and very clear. And, very notably, perfect diction. Thanks to her, people have heard Shéhérazade as something other than a symphonic poem..”
Angna Enters was an American writer, painter and dancer who, after studying with the Japanese mime artist Michio in the 1920's, developed her own form of dance-mime. She gave three performances of her Episodes for jammed audiences at Hart House Theatre. She had rave reviews and the Telegram called her the supreme artist and “everything she does is beyond praise." She performed in this special WMCT event on April 9 and 10, 1930.
Harry Adaskin and his wife Frances Marr Adaskin were a very successful musical duo. Their 1933 WMCT violin and piano concert occasioned glowing reviews.
Opening the thirty-sixth season in October 1933, Uday Shankar and his Company of Hindu Dancers and Musicians filled the Eaton Auditorium stage with over 100 performers.
The Vienna Boys Choir, twenty boys from the age of 8 to 18, performed to a full house on 22 November 1934.
The group shown is the Moscow Cathedral Choir who performed on October 28, 1935. This nineteen-member choir was made up of men and women, all Russian emigres based in Paris. It was an afternoon of Russian choral music, folk songs, and opera excerpts.
Of the 1936 WMCT concert at the Hart House Theatre, Lawrence Mason of The Globe and Mail wrote that Andres Segovia’s guitar performance “was an unforgettable glimpse into a world of courtly grace, fragile loveliness, and subtle refinement far removed from the rush and turmoil, the loud assertiveness, and violence of today.” Segovia performed on February 6, 1936.
It was to a packed house that Marion Anderson gave her Toronto debut recital under the auspices of the WMCT, on March 6, 1936. She sang mostly German Lieder but ended the afternoon with spirituals specifically arranged for her.
The Ten-Piano Ensemble conducted by WMCT member Mona Bates gave a 1941 open concert in aid of the Red Cross British Bomb Victim's Fund.
In February 1948, the WMCT sponsored a student production by the Opera School of the Royal Conservatory of Music, as the conclusion of the WMCT's golden anniversary season. Mary Morrison, who sang the part of Euridice in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice later became Canada's most renowned vocal teacher.
The 51st season opened with a recital by the Parlow Quartet with Sir Ernest MacMillan as guest pianist. This was his last performance for the WMCT; his first appearance was in 1904, as a ten-year-old!
The distinguished French team of the baritone Pierre Bernac and the composer-pianist Francis Poulenc appeared in 1950.
Glenn Gould played works by Gibbons, Bach, Schoenberg and Beethoven in November 1953, more than a year before the sensational Town Hall debut, Columbia recording contract, and international fame.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau made his Canadian debut, accompanied by Gerald Moore, in 1955. In his memoirs, the famous German baritone recalls his bewilderment at being dropped off at a department store (Eaton's College Street) for a performance of Schubert's Dichterliebe.
The WMCT caught another rising star when it presented the 25-year-old Canadian Maureen Forrester in February 1956. The contralto was on a coast-to-coast tour with John Newmark, who became the unofficial WMCT house accompanist from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Pauline Mills McGibbon was a vice-president of the club in the 1950s, chaired two constitutional committees, and as lieutenant governor of Ontario in the 1970s, hosted two receptions for the Club.
At a time when the WMCT membership was in the 600s, the Beaux-Arts Trio gave several recitals.
In 1963 Anton Kuerti gave his first recital for the WMCT. He became pianist-in-residence at the University of Toronto in 1965, gave another "electrifying" performance for the the WMCT in December 1969, and is still one of Canada's most respected and internationally-recognized musicians.
One of the outstanding recitals of the 69th season was that by the French flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, with Robert Veyron-Lecroux accompanying on piano and harpsichord.
"Look Back in Pride", by Helen Goudge was issued for the 75th season in 1972.
The March 1977 concert, a return appearance by I Solisti di Zagreb, twenty years after their first appearance, was the last concert in Eaton Auditorium, after the closing of the store.
After several years in churches with unsatisfactory acoustics, the concert series moved in 1985 to Walter Hall, specifically constructed for the type of concerts sponsored by the WMCT. The first season featured a recital by Angela Hewitt, one of many recorded by the CBC in this period.
The five concerts of the 90th season, 1987-1988, all featured previous scholarship winners: Robert Aitken, John Dodington, Edmond Agopian, Bonnie Silver, and Jane Coop; many included Canadian compositions.
Canadian baritone Russell Braun, who was the winner of a WMCT scholarship at the University of Toronto in 1989, is a star on international stages in concert, opera, and recital.
Francine Kay, piano, won the newly-created Career Development award in 1990. She had studied at the Juilliard School and the Glenn Gould School. She was a chamber music fellow at Tanglewood, and a participant in the classes of George Sebok at the Banff Centre. Now based in New York, she has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician in Europe, North America, and Asia. Currently she is on the faculty of Princeton University.
Manitoba-born James Ehnes, violin, CDA 1992, has won prizes and awards too numerous to mention, including induction into the Order of Canada in 2010. In 2017 his international career included artist residencies with the Melbourne Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the Scotia Festival, tours with the Ehnes Quartet, and leadership of the winter and summer festivals of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is the Artistic Director.
On April 15, 1993, the St. Lawrence String Quartet performed as winners of the 4th Banff International String Quartet. Established in Toronto in 1989, the SLSQ quickly earned acclaim at top international chamber music competitions and was soon playing hundreds of concerts per year worldwide. They established an ongoing residency at Spoleto Festival USA, made prize-winning recordings for EMI of music by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Golijov, earning two Grammy nominations and a host of other prizes before being appointed ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University in 1998.
Karina Gauvin won the Career Development Award in 1994. After studying in Toronto with WMCT patron Catherine Robbin, she has established herself as a singer of international renown, especially recognised for her interpretation of baroque music. Her discography includes over 40 titles.
The Commissioning program began in 1997, with Jacques Hétu's Fantaisie for piano, op. 59. 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. Scores are available at the Canadian Music Centre.
1997 CDA winner Jeanie Chung, piano, is a faculty member at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Banff School, has given solo recitals, concerto performances and chamber music concerts around the world. A diverse range of recent and long term projects includes collaborations with Shauna Rolston, Elissa Lee, Erika Raum, Barry Shiffman, Shalom Bard, YaoGuang Zhai, and Margie Gillis.
Yegor Dyachkov, cello, became the CDA winner in 2000, the same year that he made his Lincoln Center debut, and was named CBC Artist of the Year. An inspired recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist, he has appeared with major orchestras at international festivals. He has premiered works dedicated to him, including the Sonata by Jacques Hétu, Vez by Ana Sokolovic, and Menuhin : Présence by André Prévost, and took part in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. He teaches at the Schulich School of Music, McGill, and at l'Université de Montréal.
Canadian pianist Sonia Chan was chosen as the award winner of the WMCT Career Development Award in 2003. Her award winning recital in 2005 included the première of a new work by Chan Ka Nin, commissioned by the WMCT for the occasion. She was a competitor in the 2009 Honens Competition, but an accident in 2010 required a long period of healing, and she was unable to resume performing at a virtuoso level.
Shannon Mercer, soprano, began her operatic career in the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio Program. A Career Development Grant from the Canada Council allowed her to spend an extended period in Vienna studying German repertoire with the renowned voice coach Margaret Singer. Illustrating her breadth of musical interests and exceptional vocal talent, her award-winning discography ranges from baroque to contemporary, from traditional Welsh folk music to Christmas songs. She won the 2006 CDA.
In 2009 Canadian pianist Darrett Zusko was the WMCT triennial Career Development Award winner. He is a laureate of the Montréal International Musical Competition and the New Orleans International Piano Competition, and won the Canadian Music Competitions International Stepping Stone prize. He has performed with the Montréal, Vancouver, Toronto, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, among others, and has recorded the solo piano works of Canadian composers Oskar Morawetz and Harry Somers.
Vincent Lauzer, recorder, won the CDA in 2012, and was Révélation Radio-Canada 2013-2014 and Breakthrough Artist of the Year (2012 Opus Awards). He was awarded the Fernand Lindsay Career Award, a $50,000 scholarship given to a young Canadian musician for the development of an international career. Vincent is a member of Flûte Alors, the only Canadian recorder quartet, and is the artistic director of the Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival.
Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano, winner of the silver medal and the Krystian Zimerman prize at the 17th Frederic Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw, has given hundreds of performances internationally, and released three CDs to unanimous critical praise, since receiving the CDA in 2015.
Violinist Blake Pouliot won the 2018 10th Career Development Award. WMCT President Diane Martello presented him with an official t-shirt.