In Memoriam

Walter Homburger, who died on July 25, at the age of 95, was a Patron of the WMCT, and an Honorary Advisor to the WMCT Foundation.  He assisted his wife Emmy, a former president of the Club, in coordinating the Centennial Celebration Concert, whose financial success resulted in the establishment of the Foundation. The WMCT and Foundation community join in sending Emmy, and her family, our deepest sincere condolences.

Mr Homburger’s first years in Canada (1940-41) were spent in internment camps in Quebec and New Brunswick, together with other European Jewish refugees who later made unprecedented contributions to Canadian life.  Musicians in this group included musicologist Helmut Blume, violinist Hymn Bress, historian Helmut Kallmann, CBC producer Franz Kraemer, and pianist (often heard at the WMCT) John Newmark.

He began his professions, of brilliant orchestra manager, consultant, impresario and artist manager, by borrowing enough money to bring Lotte Lehmann for three lieder recitals in Eaton Auditorium in January 1947.  He promoted a succession of extraordinary artists (including Glenn Gould, Victor Braun, and Jan Rubes), and his term as managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1962-1987) set new standards.  He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1984.

In 1993 he came out of retirement to manage the developing career of WMCT Career Development Award winner James Ehnes. In 1999 to mark his 75th birthday Ehnes and Yo Yo Ma performed a recital at Roy Thomson Hall.  He was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2010.

A memorial event will be announced at a later time.

For further obituary notices see:

Pianist and teach Peter Longworth has died at the early age of 54. Peter graced the WMCT stage five times, beginning with the Duke Piano Trio in the 102nd season, and most recently in 2016 during the 119th season, with James Sommerville, horn, and Scott St. John, violin. For a complete list, see the Feuerriegels’ Concert History.

John Terauds and Norman Lebrecht have written heartfelt tributes to his contributions to Toronto musical life.

Further appreciations by colleagues, students and friends at Ludwig van Toronto.

John McNeil died on February 26, 2018.  He was an Honorary Advisor to both the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and the Foundation, as well as a member of the Investment Committee, since its inception some 18 years ago.

John was the husband of Esther McNeil, founding chair of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto Foundation, and former two-time President of the WMCT.  John advised Esther when she created the Foundation 18 years ago, and was a vital partner in ensuring its successful launch and continuing growth. As the former Chairman and CEO of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, John was able to contribute both financial acumen and networking skills to create a distinguished roster of Investment Committee members. As a long-serving member of the Investment Committee, John guided the Foundation to invest its money wisely and for the long term, ensuring the health and continuing success of the WMCT.
John was also a keen music lover and attended all WMCT concerts after his retirement.

The WMCT and Foundation community join in sending Esther, and her family, our deepest condolences, and very best wishes.

Noted Toronto ophthalmologist Dr. William (Bill) Grant Macrae has died in Collingwood. He and his wife Mandy were great friends and supporters of the WMCT and arts organizations in Toronto.   Mandy, a devoted volunteer, served as president of the WMCT for a three-year term beginning in 1998.

Read The Globe story 

Teacher of elite pianists played last concert for Music in the Afternoon in 1982.


Marina Geringas, much-loved teacher and performer died at her home in Toronto on June 20 at the age of 77.  Russian-born, she lived through the Second World War in the Soviet Union and immigrated to Canada in 1975. In addition to performing, she became a leading teacher at both the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto. In 1982 she retired from performing and played her last concert on Dec. 9 in Christ Church Deer Park presented by the WMCT.

Read Arthur Kaptainis’ Globe and Mail obituary.

In Memoriam George Brough – 1918 – 2015

Longtime WMCT member and fixture in the Canadian classical music community George Brough died in Toronto, September 15. He was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England, February 25, 1918, and became pianist, organist, harpsichordist, and opera coach. Music was the heart of his life and he and his friend and companion of 43 years, Simone Desilets have been part of the WMCT community for many years.

See Toronto Star obituary:

See Musical Toronto In Memoriam: