McGill String Quartet/Quatuor à cordes McGill

 McGill String Quartet/Quatuor à cordes McGill. The first McGill Quartett (sic) was formed in 1904. According to the Montreal Witness (18 May 1905), its members were Alfred De Sève (first violin), Albert Chamberland (second violin), Robert Gruenwald (viola), and J.-B. Dubois (cello). It had a brief existence, as did a second ensemble of the same name formed ca 1930 by four teachers at McGill, Maurice Onderet and Eric Zimmerman (violins), Harry Norris (viola), and Jean Belland (cello).

In 1939 a third quartet was founded by Alexander Brott (first violin), with Edwin Sherrard (second violin), Joseph Oriold (viola), and Belland (cello). Stephen Kondaks replaced Oriold in the autumn of 1940, and in 1942 Mildred Goodman became second violin, Sherrard viola, and Lotte Goetzel cello. Florence Hood was second violin briefly in 1944. Beginning with the 1944-5 season, the quartet comprised, in addition to Brott, Lionel Renaud (second violin), Lucien Robert (viola), and Lotte Goetzel Brott (cello). D'Arcy Shea was second violin in 1949.

After a debut at the McGill Faculty Club 11 Feb 1940 and a broadcast on radio station CFCF the following 9 March, the quartet presented the first concert in an inaugural series of three at McGill University's Moyse Hall; for the second and third concerts, 13 March and 24 April, Douglas Clarke was guest pianist in the Schumann and Brahms quintets respectively. During the summer of 1940 the ensemble spent some time at Lac Manitou in the Laurentians at Sherrard's summer residence and gave several benefit concerts for the Red Cross at the Red Barn Hotel. The Montreal Festivals presented it in seven seasons of from six to eight concerts each, 1940-4 in the Prince of Wales room of the Windsor Hotel and 1945-7 at the Ermitage. The McGill Chamber Music Society/La Société de musique de chambre McGill, founded in 1947 with Mrs H. Mortimer Jaquays as president, sponsored the quartet's concerts 1947-8 at the Royal Victoria College and later at Moyse Hall. However, the quartet's activities slowly diminished and became part of a season which also included concerts by a chamber music ensemble conducted by Brott and, on occasion, Clarke. The quartet disbanded in the early 1950s but reformed for a single concert in 1954 to mark the 50th anniversary of the McGill Cons. On that occasion it performed works by Violet Archer, Brott, and Robert Turner, all former McGill University students. The quartet performed in Toronto in 1943 and in Ottawa in 1945.

Many guests performed with the ensemble, including the pianists Jean-Marie Beaudet, Arthur Benjamin, Douglas Clarke, Jean Dansereau, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Germaine Malépart, Ross Pratt, George Schick, Henrietta Schumann, and Reginald Stewart; the cellists Maurice Eisenberg and Zara Nelsova; the flutists Hervé Baillargeon and Mario Duschenes; the oboists Réal Gagnier and Léon Goossens; the bassoonist Roland Gagnier; the clarinetists Armand Gagnier and Rafael Masella; the french-horn players Guillaume Gagnier, Joseph Masella, and Pietro Romano; and the singers Pierrette Alarie, Jeanne Desjardins, Audrey Mildmay, and William Morton.

In addition to the regular quartet repertoire, it performed such works as the Beethoven Septet, the Schubert Octet, Chausson's Concert, Fauré's La Bonne Chanson, and Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge. Among the Canadian works on its programs were the Quartet (1941), Lullaby and Procession of the Toys (1943), Quartet No. 2 (1946), Quintet with recorders, and Critic's Corner with percussion (1950), all by Brott. Also in 1950 a Quartet by Andrew Twa received an award in a national competition organized by the ensemble.