Women’s Musical Club of Toronto: Celebrating 125 Years

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

After surviving the second pandemic since its founding in 1898, the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto (WMCT) is going big for its 125th anniversary.

Its 2022-2023 season, called “Connection and Continuity,” will celebrate the ­organization’s historical legacy. Each show in the series of five concerts will highlight one work that represents a distinct 25-year block of time. The works will be accompanied by ­explorations of their cultural backgrounds in an expansive, online program led by historian and archivist Robin Elliot, according to ­Artistic Director and cellist Simon Fryer.

“We (want) to demonstrate that 125 years is a huge amount of time in which the Women’s ­Musical Club of Toronto has been integrated into the Toronto and global landscapes,” Fryer said.

Further to the theme of time, participating musicians have been asked to invite their ­musical mentors and apprentices. Some of Fryer’s own cellist apprentices will be ­performing this year, including VC2’s Bryan Holt, Ladom Ensemble’s Beth Silver, Aizuri Quartet’s Karen Ouzounian and the season’s featured composer, Fjóla Evans.

“By doing (this) we see our artist in the present,” Fryer said. “If they bring their ­mentor, we see where they came from. And if they’re bringing people they themselves ­mentor, we see the future.”

Not only will Fjóla Evans unveil the Schubert-inspired two-cello quintet work she composed for this season, but her concert—to be performed by the Aizuri Quartet and VC2 Cello Duo—will tell the story of her musical upbringing.

“I asked Fjóla: ‘Tell us about your earliest music awakening.’ She has Icelandic ­background, so she remembered Icelandic songs in the house. We’re going to put some of those in the program,” Fryer said.

The season’s four other concerts will feature accordionist Michael Bridge (2021 WMCT ­Career Development Award winner), Quatuor Despax, mezzo-soprano Marion Newman and violinist Mark Fewer.

In tune with the WMCT’s history, the ­concerts will be held on Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. This showtime originally catered to upper-class women in the 20th century who were married to wealthy men and who sought entertainment on the weekdays. While the ­organization later became gender inclusive, it always kept this showtime tradition.

According to Fryer, this, too, may change; the pandemic and recent changes in working conditions have pushed the WMCT board to discuss different showtimes.

“In today’s world, we have to be willing to adapt to peoples’ schedules,” he said. “More and more people work, … (and) if 1:30 on a Thursday is beginning to prove difficult then we’ll have to find an alternative.”

One thing the pandemic hasn’t changed, however, is the organization’s attitude toward in-person concerts. Admittedly, the 2022-23 season will be offered in a hybrid format: live attendance will be available for $45, but since COVID capacity limits have prevented the WMCT from inviting as many high school classes as other years, all performances will be recorded and delivered to students virtually.

Despite this compromise, Fryer doesn’t see live concerts being replaced any time soon.

“The ability for people to get together in a group, hear a fantastic concert and share the experience is incredibly important. The online thing doesn’t produce that in any conceivable fashion,” he said.

www.wmct.on.ca

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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