Music in Sault Ste Marie

Ontario city across the St Mary's River from Sault Ste Marie, Mich. As early as 1668 there was a small settlement of fur traders on the site. The permanent settlement was established in 1792. Sault Ste Marie was incorporated as a town in 1887 and as a city in 1912.

Sault Ste Marie, Ont

Sault Ste Marie, Ont. Ontario city across the St Mary's River from Sault Ste Marie, Mich. As early as 1668 there was a small settlement of fur traders on the site. The permanent settlement was established in 1792. Sault Ste Marie was incorporated as a town in 1887 and as a city in 1912. Steel became the major industry. Succession duties from the estate of Sir James Dunn, chairman and president of Algoma Steel, were allocated by the federal government as foundation money for the Canada Council. In 1986 Sault Ste Marie's population was 84,610 including large numbers of Croatians, Italians, and Ukrainians.

Bands have been an important part of the city's musical life. The Band of the 227th Regiment, formed ca 1915 and conducted for several decades by Harry R. Pearse, marched to war in 1916 to the strains of Pearse's privately published Men O' the North, the 227th's band march. A bandshell was named in Pearse's honour in 1971. In 1975 the Kiwanis Concert Band was formed.

The violin teacher Edward Hanelt founded a community orchestra in 1939, and in the 1930s and 1940s John Blackburn taught voice; Doreen Hume was the latter's most noted pupil.

The Northmen Male Chorus was established in 1937 and in 1942 formed the nucleus of the Northernaire's Choral Society. In 1949 Gordon Christie, supervisor of music for the Board of Education, formed the 45-member Ladies' Choral Society, which was renamed the Gordon Christie Singers in 1965 and was conducted by Christie until 1972. Subsequent conductors were Anton Gartshore 1972-3, Patty Gartshore 1973-4, John F.M. Wood 1974-7, Albert E. Furtney 1977-8, and Rodger Beatty 1978-9, when the choir disbanded. In 1979 Patty Gartshore formed the Algoma Festival Choir and was its conductor 1979-84, followed by Jane Walker 1985-7, Debra Ollikkala 1988-9, and Richard Hansen from 1989. In 1985 Patty Gartshore founded the Chamber Singers of Algoma, which presents a regular series of five to eight concerts annually, often collaborating with the Sudbury Chamber Singers and the Sault Symphony Orchestra. In 1990 Gartshore continued to conduct the choir.

In the 1940s Croatian and Ukrainian orchestras were active. The Sault Chamber Orchestra of the 1960s developed in 1969 into the Sault SO under the direction 1969-78 of Lajos Bornyi, followed by John Wilkinson who continued in that post in 1990. Some of the orchestra's members have come from Sault Ste Marie, Mich; indeed, the orchestra and the Sault Chamber Players have been sponsored by the Sault Ste Marie International Association, established in 1974. Local instrumental standards have been raised by the Sault Music Festival, initiated in 1937 by the Algoma Music Teachers' Association (affiliated with the ORMTA in 1946) and the Kiwanis Club. In the 1970s the event became the second largest competition festival in Ontario.

Artists of international calibre have appeared in Sault Ste Marie as part of the Algoma Fall Festival, which began in 1973. Nicholas Goldschmidt, engaged as festival consultant in 1975, conducted productions and organized the Algoma Festival Chorus. Other performing groups in the Sault in 1990 included the Sault Opera Society, directed by Arno Ambel; the Musical Comedy Guild; and the St Luke's Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, led successively by Fred J. James, John White, John Wood (who took the choir on tour to England), Patty Gartshore, and from 1990 Richard Hansen.

During the 1920s music teachers were assigned to the public schools, and by 1946 three music specialists were working in the school system. Music training establishments flourishing in Sault Ste Marie in 1990 included the Algoma Cons and the Algoma Music Camp, the latter directed by Ed Gartshore, a leading violin teacher in the city for many years and director also of the Gartshore Music Centre. In 1980 the camp was moved to St Joseph Island, east of Sault Ste Marie.

Gary Buck, Ned Ciaschini (arranger and member of Percy Faith's orchestra), Claire Grenon-Masella, Doreen Hume, Joseph Laderoute, Gino Silvi, and Eric Wild were born in or near Sault Ste Marie. Barbara Ianni was born in Sault Ste Marie, sang with the COC, and then returned to the Sault, where in 1990 she was active as a teacher and performer.