Music in Peterborough | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Music in Peterborough

Ontario city on the Otonabee River (part of the Trent-Severn Waterway). It was settled ca 1820 by County Cork Irish, was named Peterborough in 1827, and was incorporated in 1905. It developed into a lumbering and milling town.

Peterborough, Ont

Peterborough, Ont. Ontario city on the Otonabee River (part of the Trent-Severn Waterway). It was settled ca 1820 by County Cork Irish, was named Peterborough in 1827, and was incorporated in 1905. It developed into a lumbering and milling town. The population grew from 2000 (1850) to 61,049 (1986) with the industrialization of the city.

A group of well-educated settlers in the area - the Langtons, Stewarts, and Stricklands - wrote of the travails of early backwoods life, and their accounts include mention of music - folksinging in the lumbercamps and informal music-making at the house of singing teacher Thomas Choate (fl 1839-1900) in nearby Warsaw. Organized music began in the churches; a concert of vocal and instrumental music took place in 1844 at a bazaar at St John's Church.

Brass band concerts under a Mr Rackett were heard in 1858 at the Histrionic Club. The city's longest-lived band began in the early 1860s as that of the 57th Regiment. It was re-formed by Rupert Gliddon in 1890 as the 40-member Regimental Concert Band and gained a reputation as one of Canada's finest, appearing at the CNE in Toronto for some 20 years. After World War I it was directed by Capt W.H. Peryer until 1950 and became, in turn, the Peterborough Citizen's Band and the Peterborough Civic Concert Band, which was still active in 1990. Asa (Andrew C.) Huycke (b Hastings, Ont, 21 Jul 1891, d Onondaga, Ont, 28 Aug 1971) composed ballads, walzes, marches, (including March Irrestible played by Sousa's band ca 1916), and devised a piano method.

Instrumental music appeared in the schools in 1872, the emphasis remaining on band instruments though string instruction was to be given periodically. The Peterborough Conservatory (fl 1905-31) was directed by Rupert W. Gliddon (b, Cornwall, England, 1867, d 7 Dec 1935) a cornet player whose parents settled in Bowmanville, Ont, when he was three and who studied under Arthur Hartmann in England and Robert Teichmüller in Leipzig) and his wife Thérèse, a pupil of A.S. Vogt. The conservatory offered instruction by Toronto and local teachers including Alice Roger Collins, Lina Drechsler Adamson, Harry Field, Lora Logan Hooper, Dorothy Allan Park, and Leo Smith. The Hart House Quartet, Herbert Menges, and Arthur Friedheim appeared in its concert hall. Later both Trent University (established 1963) and Sir Sanford Fleming College (established 1967) included music on their curricula. In1990 Peterborough's opportunities for young musicians included a Kiwanis Music Festival, a Suzuki String program, and a Youth Orchestra.

A Philharmonic Society was giving concerts as early as 1879 in the Old Methodist Church. A Peterborough Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1923 by Rupert Gliddon (who also formed a conservatory orchestra and a 60-voice Madrigal Club) and continued until the early 1930s. A new Peterborough SO, begun under Klemi Hambourg in 1958 as a string orchestra, grew to a 40-piece orchestra by 1967, and continued to be active in 1990 (see Orchestras).

In 1900 George W. Mulligan directed a specially organized 100-voice Royal Chorus for the visit of the Duke of York (later King George V). Mulligan also conducted the Royal Chorus and the Canadian General Electric Glee Club in a grand concert in 1901. The Peterborough Amateur Opera, organized ca 1908 by Richard Devey (organist-choirmaster at St John's Church), won the Earl Grey Trophy in 1910 for its production of The Geisha. (The leading role was sung by Lavina Hallihan of the city, whose later studies were financed by Governor General Grey, and who enjoyed a concert career in Canada and the USA.) Dorothy Allan Park's Madrigal Singers (Peterborough, Ont) (fl 1927-42) presented many guest instrumentalists and appeared frequently in Toronto. Martin Chenhall, organist-choirmaster at St Paul's Presbyterian Church, conducted the Peterborough Male Voice Choir in the 1920s in concerts and in Gilbert & Sullivan productions at the Grand Opera House. The choir took second place in the Glee Club Festival of Male Voice Choirs in New York in 1929. Choirs active in the 1990s include the Bonachords, the Coventry Singers, and the Peterborough County Youth Choir, and the Peterborough Symphony Chorus.

Three halls have served Peterborough: Hill's Music Hall (1860-80), seating 700 and operated by a Mr. Hill who was an amateur organ builder; The Bradburn (1876-1974), a small auditorium on the third floor of a commercial building; and the Grand Opera House (Peterborough, Ont) (1906-40), a two-balcony theatre which housed musical comedy performances and offered recitals by Dame Clara Butt, Edward Johnson, Sir Harry Lauder, and Lillian Nordica. A 350-seat theatre was opened in 1973 at Trent University. Artspace, a converted facility founded in 1974 as a non profit venue, has continued to be used for art exhibitions and non-classical concerts.

The Canadian Concert Association (later Peterborough Concert Association - founded by J.J. Craig in 1937 and affiliated with Community Concerts in 1942) has presented series of visiting artists. The Peterborough Festival of Lights (formerly Arts and Water Festival), an annual 12-day outdoor event begun in 1971, has featured Canadian pop and jazz performers. The Peterborough Festival of the Arts, founded in 1984, has presented the premieres of Canadian works, including Patria 3: The Greatest Show by R. Murray Schafer, mounted during Schafer's term 1987-9 as artistic director of the festival. Musicians born or raised in Peterborough include Brian and Lawrence Cherney, the violinist Julia Grover Choate (granddaughter of Thomas Choate), Agnes Logan Green, Norman Hurrle, Paul McIntyre, Colleen Peterson, and Helen Davies Sherry. Peterborough has become an increasingly active centre for jazz, blues, and rock music. Groups or single performers from the city include the Jackson Delta Trio, Max Mouth, Reverend Ken, and David Ramsden.

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