Music in Fredericton

Fredericton, NB. New Brunswick's capital city, located on the Saint John River on the site of a 1732 Acadian, and later Loyalist English, settlement at St Anne's Point. The name Fredericton was adopted in 1785. Incorporation as a city was accomplished in 1848.

Fredericton, NB

Fredericton, NB. New Brunswick's capital city, located on the Saint John River on the site of a 1732 Acadian, and later Loyalist English, settlement at St Anne's Point. The name Fredericton was adopted in 1785. Incorporation as a city was accomplished in 1848. In 1990 Fredericton's population had reached 45,000, and among its main industries were pulp, paper, and metal production. Educational institutions and the provincial government were other major employers.

Music flourished in Fredericton in the early part of the 19th century. There were several civil and regimental bands. In 1832 E.T. Cooke wrote of 'the excellent band of the 34th regiment [which] attracted a crowd of auditors during fine evenings of September' (A Subaltern's Furlough, New York 1833). In August 1844 a noteworthy concert was presented by the 33rd Regiment Band under Mr Ricks. It featured the overtures to Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito and Andreas Romberg's Die Grossmut des Scipio and one of Beethoven's Leonora overtures. Included on the program were violin solos by Mr Keyser and glees performed by local singers.

A strong church music tradition originated in the 1840s under the leadership of Bishop John Medley, a founder of Christ Church Cathedral and conductor of its excellent choir for over 40 years. He was assisted 1867-9 by Lieut-Col Alexander Ewing (b Old Machar, near Aberdeen, Scotland 3 Jan 1830, d Taunton, near Exeter, England 11 Jul 1895), a chorister and supplementary organist who was appointed conductor of the Choral Society. Ewing is remembered as the composer of the hymn 'Jerusalem the Golden'. Another noteworthy musical figure was Rev John Black (d 1871), a rector of King's Clear, whose Cantate Domino: A Hymnal for Public Worship (Toronto 1874) was published posthumously.

The City Hall, built in 1876, was used later as the Opera House. Performers who appeared in Fredericton during the late 19th and early 20th centuries included the singers Emma Albani and Clara Butt, the pianist Mark Hambourg, and the violinist Marie Hall.

A citizens' band, a chamber orchestra, a civic orchestra (led for many years by Janis Kalnins), the Cecilian Singers, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society (Fredericton, NB), the York Singers, and the Art Centre Singers all flourished after World War II. Fredericton High School's Madrigal Singers (Fredericton, NB), founded in 1965, performed at Expo 67 and on the CBC. The Fredericton Music Festival (competition) was founded in 1948. The University of New Brunswick employed a succession of musicians-in-residence beginning in 1962 (Paul Helmer, the Duo Pach, the Brunswick String Quartet) and established the annual University of New Brunswick Chamber Music and Jazz Festival under the direction of Arlene Nimmons Pach in 1966. During the 1970s the Community Concerts Association, the Creative Arts Committee (at UNB), and the JMC sponsored some 20 concerts a year, and the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears, Liona Boyd, Edith Butler, Anne Murray, the TS, and William Tritt were among those who appeared. Most concerts in Fredericton have been given at the University of New Brunswick or at the Playhouse.

The composers Robert C. Bayley and Janis Kalnins have made Fredericton their home. Among noted natives of the city are Bayley, the composers Winifred Lugrin Fahey and Cedric Lemont, the singer-guitarist Fred McKenna, and the pianist Andrew Tunis. The composer and music educator Edwin Barnes was born near Fredericton. Ada Dowling (Mrs J.R. Costigan), who was organist at St Dunstan's Church, moved to Calgary in 1887, providing that city with its first piano and first music teacher. The cymbal manufacturer Sabian Ltd is located at Meductic, northwest of Fredericton on the Saint John River.


Further Reading

  • York and Sunbury Hist. Soc., Papers of Mrs F.A. Good. 'Some random notes on the musical history of Fredericton,' (1933)

    Kallmann History of Music in Canada