Vancouver Recital Society

Vancouver Recital Society. Vancouver-based concert organization, founded by Leila Getz in 1980. The concert society tradition in Vancouver dates to the early twentieth century, with impresarios such as Lily Laverock, Gordon Hilker, and Hugh Pickett.

Vancouver Recital Society

Vancouver Recital Society. Vancouver-based concert organization, founded by Leila Getz in 1980. The concert society tradition in Vancouver dates to the early twentieth century, with impresarios such as Lily Laverock, Gordon Hilker, and Hugh Pickett. The collapse of the Vancouver International Festival during the late 1960s, however, signalled difficult times for concert organizers. Vancouver Recital Society founder Leila Getz emigrated from South Africa in 1966, and although she was warned against the feasibility of a recital society in Vancouver, she was determined to make it a success. In 1980 the inaugural season of the Vancouver Recital Society was launched on a budget of $10,000, with the first concert, featuring pianist Boris Berman, held on 21 September at the Arts Club Theatre on Granville Island. The society began offering concerts at the Orpheum Theatre in 1984 to accommodate higher-profile artists and a growing audience. Concerts have also been held at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, the Kay Meek Centre, and the Vancouver Playhouse. Annual revenues by 2010 were roughly $1.4 million, with funding provided by private donors, the Vancouver Foundation, and the City of Vancouver.

Artists and Programming

Despite its modest beginnings, the Vancouver Recital Society cultivated a loyal following, both for its innovative programming and for its high-calibre artists. It has been one of the few organizations in North America dedicated to solo performers (established and emerging), and as such, has introduced a number of acclaimed international artists to Canadian audiences. In October 1982, the society presented a recital by the renowned Hungarian pianist Annie Fischer, marking her historic return to North America after an absence of ten years. Other prominent soloists have included Cecilia Bartoli, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, Bryn Terfel, Maxim Vengerov, Anne Sofie von Otter, and Canadians Measha Brueggergosman, Angela Cheng, James Ehnes, Gerald Finley, Jon Kimura Parker, and Scott St. John.

In its regular seasons, the society has featured a number of ensembles, including the Amedeo Modigliani Quartet (in their Canadian debut) in 2007-08, the Arcanto Quartet, the Aviv Quartet, the Jerusalem Quartet, and the Tetzlaff Quartet.

While Vancouver Recital Society audiences have traditionally been made up of older professionals, there has also been an ongoing effort to attract a younger demographic through initiatives such as the Children's Community Outreach Programme and the "Next Generation" concert series for up-and-coming artists.

Awards and Recognition

In 1985 the society was awarded a prize for excellence in the arts from the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA). Two years later, it received an international award from the Association of College, University and Community Arts Administrators (ACUCAA). For her work with the Vancouver Recital Society, Leila Getz was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994 and was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.


Further Reading

  • "A musical feast for all," Vancouver Courier, 4 Sep 1980

    "Vancouver Recital Society wins major international prize," ACUCAA News, 5 Jan 1988

    "Tenth anniversary season," Playboard, vol 25, no 5, Oct 1989

    "Pianists plus from the Vancouver Recital Society," Playboard, vol 25, no 6, Nov 1990

    Mather, J. "Woman of conviction," Music Magazine, vol 14, no 1, Feb/Mar 1991

    Dafoe, C. "Can't stop the music," Globe and Mail, 29 Jul 1992

    Friedmann, A. "Vancouver Recital Society to feature three greats," Jewish Western Bulletin, 24 Jun 1993

    "World of Music - chamber music - Vancouver," Classical Music Magazine, vol 16, no 4, Sep/Oct 1993

    Friedman, A. "Remarkable talent to highlight VRS season," Jewish Western Bulletin, 18 Aug 1994

    Dubois, D. "The Vancouver Recital Society - 25 years of possible," The Music Scene, vol 3, no 2, Winter 2005

    So, Joseph. "The many faces of Rolando Villazón," La Scena Musicale, vol 5, no 1, Fall 2006