Vancouver Women's Musical Society
Vancouver Women's Musical Society (formerly the Vancouver Woman's Musical Club). Founded in 1905 by Mrs B.T. Rogers, Mrs J.J. Banfield, Mrs C.M. Beecher, (first president 1905-7), and others and incorporated in 1916 under the guidance of Esther Beecher Weld and Mrs Walter Coulthard. Membership has ranged from 100 to 600. The society's stated objective has been the advancement of music in the cultural, social, and educational life of Vancouver and British Columbia. The society was involved in the campaign in 1919 to introduce music study into Vancouver schools and assisted in the formation in 1919 and revival in 1930 of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
In the absence of professional impresarios in Vancouver, the club presented many famous performers in its early years, beginning in 1908 with Paderewski and continuing with such artists as Clara Butt, Mischa Elman, Amelita Galli-Curci, Josef Hofmann, Liza Lehmann, Benno Moiseiwitsch, William Primrose, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Luisa Tetrazzini, and Eugène Ysaÿe. In 1910 it sponsored three concerts by the New York Symphony Orchestra under Walter Damrosch. From the earliest years, however, the society presented Canadian artists (eg, Barbara Custance, Judith Forst, Kathleen Parlow, Ross Pratt, the Hart House String Quartet, and Robert Silverman). As local impresarios emerged, the society concentrated increasingly on one of its most important roles, the encouragement of young performers.
Over the years concerts have been held at the CPR's Vancouver Opera House, the Oak Room of the Hotel Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and elsewhere. In 1976 the society began holding its major concerts at the Koerner Recital Hall of the Vancouver Academy of Music; in the 1979-80 season they were moved to Christ Church Cathedral, and in the autumn of 1980 they moved again to the Unitarian Church on West 49th Avenue. Free concerts have also been provided to hospitals, nursing homes, and other such institutions. An annual scholarship, established in 1913, has helped the careers of Mary Anne Barcellona, Donald Bell, Jean Coulthard, Barbara Custance, Lea Foli, Ben Heppner, Desmond Hoebig, Gwen Hoebig, Pearl Kerr, Don McManus, Arthur Polson, Robert Rogers, and Bernard Turgeon. Besides receiving money awards, winners traditionally are presented in recital by the society. In 1976 a memorial trust fund was established to provide bursaries for Canadian music students. Born in the early years of Vancouver, the Vancouver Women's Musical Society may claim a special and continuing place in the city's musical development. The society's archives, assembled by Mrs G. Inglis (president 1972-4), were presented in 1975 to the Vancouver City Archives, which will continue to receive the society's collected papers on an ongoing basis. In 1986 the society celebrated its 80th anniversary with a gala concert featuring Mary Anne Barcellona (soprano), Cary Chow (piano), John Friesen (cello), Joanne Opgenorth (violin), Robert Rogers (piano), with Harold Brown (piano), and Elaine Dobek (piano).