Men's Music Club
The Men's Music Club (Men's Musical Club of Winnipeg 1915-60; Men's Music Club of Winnipeg 1960-2; Winnipeg Music Competition Festival Inc 1987-). Founded 11 Dec 1915 to 'promote, assist and encourage a high standard in the art of music in Manibota.' The founders were Joseph M. Tees and George S. Mathieson, and Rev Dean Coombes was the first president. There were 120 charter members, of whom some 35 were professional musicians. The club has sponsored the formation of the Winnipeg Male Voice Choir in 1916, the Manitoba Music Competition Festival in 1918 (renamed Winnipeg Music Competition Festival, 1987), the Winnipeg Orchestral Club in 1923, and the Winnipeg Boys' Choir in 1925.
The boys' choir, led 1925-40 by Ethel Kinley, achieved a reputation for unforced, natural singing, a tradition perpetuated by Kinley's successor 1940-51 Beth Douglas. It was operated 1943-74 as two choirs, a junior and a senior. After Douglas, there were many conductors of both the senior and preparatory groups, among them Lucien Needham 1956-8. Douglas, with Frances Christie, resumed leadership 1958-62. Others have included Sydney Bryans 1962-4 and 1965-6, Keith Tinsley 1964-5, Helga Anderson 1966-74, and Ron Butterfield 1974-5. In 1975 the choirs were merged under Ardyth McMaster, succeeded by Bob McPhee 1979-82, and Patricia Rabson in 1982.
The Men's Musical Club also sponsored the formation in 1944 of the Winnipeg Civic Music League, a citizens' committee designed to take both advisory and active interest in musical matters of civic importance. The league helped establish the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 1948 and was instrumental in planning the major expansion of the University of Manitoba School of Music in 1963. Before the formation of the league, the club had promoted the building of the Winnipeg Auditorium and prepared the inaugural concert, 27 Oct 1932. The club assumed sponsorship of the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir in 1929 and continued its support until 1969. Douglas Clarke, Bernard Naylor, Hugh Ross, and Peter Temple were among the outstanding musicians the club introduced to Canada as conductors of the Male Voice and Philharmonic choirs. The club supported the establishment of Rainbow Stage in 1954.
In 1970 the club assumed sponsorship of the Winnipeg Girls' Choir, founded ca 1944 by Beth Cruikshank, its conductor until 1970, and Maurine Pottruff, its accompanist during the early years. It was divided into junior and senior choirs in 1964. After Cruikshank, conductors of the senior group have included John Standing 1970-6; Frances Seaton, appointed in 1976, continued to hold that position in 1991.
In the years after World War I, besides presenting its own performing organizations in concert, the Men's Musical Club sponsored recitals by distinguished performers of international standing (eg, in the early 1920s, Sophie Braslau, Alfred Cortot, H.A. Fricker, Joseph Hislop, and Cyril Scott). It continued, seasonally, to present weekly recitals by visiting and local artists until 1939. Series were held the first year at the Royal Alexandra Hotel and subsequently at the Board of Trade Auditorium and the Winnipeg Auditorium. In 1953 the club established a women's auxiliary and a citizen's advisory council to assist in the re-establishment of the club's enterprises in the post-war period. In 1978 the Winnipeg Girls' Choirs (senior and junior), the Winnipeg Boys' Choir, and the Manitoba Music Competition Festival still were active under club sponsorship, although they became separate entities in 1986. In 1987 the Men's Music Club name was changed to the Winnipeg Music Competition Festival Inc.