Berythe (Margaret Wallace) Birse (b Ross). Choir conductor, teacher, b Rossburn, north of Brandon, Man, 25 Jul 1904; BA (Manitoba) 1924. After teaching music in public and private Winnipeg schools for over 20 years, she was music supervisor 1944-8 for suburban Winnipeg schools. She was music instructor 1952-3 and 1956-7 at the Manitoba Teachers' College and 1967-71 at the faculty of education, University of Manitoba. She founded the Young Women's Musical Club Choir in 1939 and the Winnipeg Ladies' Choir in 1940 and served 1947-70 as a national choral adjudicator. During World War II she also directed the Carollers on CBC radio.
In 1954 Birse formed the Oriana Singers, a 25-voice female choir which appeared with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in works requiring female voices (eg, the Debussy Nocturnes, 17 Jun 1963) and gave many concerts on its own from a repertoire of Britten (A Ceremony of Carols), Debussy (The Blessed Damozel), Vaughan Williams (Magnificat), and others. The Oriana Singers premiered Bernard Naylor'sKubla Khan in 1960. The choir disbanded in 1966.
For Winnipeg service organizations Birse produced several chamber operas, including Britten's Let's Make an Opera (1952) and Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors (1953, 1954) in their first Canadian performances. Other works she produced included The Impresario (1956), Noye's Fludde (ca 1957), Cox and Box, and La Serva Padrona (1958) for the Wednesday Morning Musicale. In 1989 Birse continued to reside in Winnipeg.