Gena Branscombe

Gena Branscombe, composer, conductor (b at Picton, Ont 4 Nov 1881; d at New York City, NY 26 July 1977).

Gena Branscombe, composer, conductor (b at Picton, Ont 4 Nov 1881; d at New York City, NY 26 July 1977). At the age of 15 she went to Chicago to further her musical studies, subsequently winning gold medals in both piano and composition. In 1909-10 she studied composition in Germany with Humperdinck and received high praise for public performances of her compositions and her piano playing. Through a long and vigorous life she composed music for piano, voice, orchestra and choir, winning particular recognition for her music for women's voices. Her choral drama Pilgrims of Destiny was acclaimed by the League of American Pen Women in 1928 as the finest work composed by a woman.

Though she lived in the US, several of her compositions embrace Canadian themes, eg, the orchestral Quebec Suite and the choir piece Our Canada from Sea to Sea. In 1960 the Royal Canadian Navy adopted her hymn Arms That Have Sheltered Us. Several of her piano pieces, songs, and choral works have been republished in volumes 6, 14, 17 and 18 of the Canadian Musical Heritage Society. She founded the Branscombe Chorale of New York in 1934 and remained its conductor for 20 years. Some of her manuscripts and papers were deposited at Library and Archives Canada. In 2003 Kathleen Shimeta released a CD of her songs and since that date has been presenting her lecture/recital, The Gena Branscombe Project.