Promenade Symphony Concerts

Promenade Symphony Concerts. Toronto summer series (1934-56) given by an orchestra of 75-90 players formed and conducted by Reginald Stewart. The initiative was owing also to Healey and Gladys Willan.

Promenade Symphony Concerts

Promenade Symphony Concerts. Toronto summer series (1934-56) given by an orchestra of 75-90 players formed and conducted by Reginald Stewart. The initiative was owing also to Healey and Gladys Willan.

Established with the assistance of the Toronto Musical Protective Association to provide summer employment for musicians, the orchestra was known first as the Promenade SO and after 1940 as the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra.

The weekly concerts (May through October) were presented at the 5600-seat Varsity Arena on the University of Toronto campus and were broadcast by the CBC and heard in the USA during the late 1930s. Admission prices were low, even for the day, ranging downwards from one dollar each for the best reserved seats to 25 cents each for the first 1000 unreserved seats.

Concertmasters were Harold Sumberg 1934-40, Eugene Kash 1941-2, Albert Steinberg 1943-4, John Dembeck in 1945, and Hyman Goodman 1946-56.

After Stewart's resignation in 1941 such guests as Maurice Abravanel, Sir Adrian Boult, Alexander Brott, Hans Kindler, Victor Kolar, André Kostelanetz, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Ettore Mazzoleni, and Heinz Unger were engaged. Soloists included Jessica Dragonette, Percy Grainger, James Melton, Jan Peerce, Gregor Piatigorsky, William Primrose, Efrem Zimbalist, and the Canadians Barbara Custance, Ray Dudley, George Haddad, Betty-Jean Hagen, Lois Marshall, Zara Nelsova, Patricia Parr, Albert Pratz, and Harold Sumberg.

Premieres included Percival Price's St Lawrence Symphony (1934) and Willan's Symphony in D Minor (1936), Coronation Te Deum (1937), and Marche solennelle (1937). North American premieres included Vaughan Williams' Suite for Viola and Orchestra (1937) and Walton's Crown Imperial (1940). Tchaikovsky was the most frequently performed composer, followed by Wagner.


Further Reading

  • Withrow, John B. 'Reprise,' Bravo, May-Jun 1984