Music in North Bay

Railway and tourist centre in Ontario situated between Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing, incorporated as a town in 1890 and as a city in 1925, and reaching a population of more than 53,000 by 1990.

North Bay, Ont

North Bay, Ont. Railway and tourist centre in Ontario situated between Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing, incorporated as a town in 1890 and as a city in 1925, and reaching a population of more than 53,000 by 1990. Among the city's early musical organizations were the North Bay Choral Union, organized in 1907 and led for 20 years by F.A. York, the Columbus Band (1913) conducted by E. Virgili, and the North Bay Premier Band which in 1924 won a first prize at the CNE, Toronto. The 32-member North Bay T&NO (Timiskaming and Northern Ontario) Railway Band, founded in 1925, gave radio broadcasts and concerts in the park. In 1950, it joined the Engineers' Band of the Canadian Armed Forces Eighth Field Squadron (later North Bay Area Band).

The 42-member North Bay Community Orchestra was formed in 1930. The Choral Union performed The Mikado with a cast of 50 under H. Shorse in 1931. The Choral and Orchestra Society was formed in 1932, but was short-lived. The Victor Chorus, conducted by Victor Kviesis, was active from 1956 to the early 1970s. In 1971 the North Bay Choral Society was formed and its directorship was assumed by Dawn Wallis Sutton in 1976. In 1991 it continued to be directed by Sutton, who is also founder and conductor of the North Bay Chamber Singers, a 60-voice mixed choir which is nurtured by the North Bay Choral Society, and which performs frequently throughout the year, often with the North Bay SO.

The North Bay Community Concert Association, established in 1943, presented series of concerts in the auditorium of the Vocational School and later in the Capitol Theatre (North Bay). Its first series featured the contralto Jean Watson, the Don Cossacks Chorus, and the Bary Ensemble. The association presented annually three concerts of classical music and one of light classics. Its membership exceeded 1500 by 1976, but it had ceased operations by 1980. A concert series of chamber music was formed in 1975 as 'Music at St Andrew's' and presented artists such as Liona Boyd, the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Tudor Singers of Montreal, Elyakim Taussig, Norbert Kraft, the Sinfonia (London, Ont) and others. It declined after the North Bay Arts Centre opened in 1985.

In 1977 Robert Ryker formerly a tuba player in the MSO, was appointed community musician under a program by the Canada Council in conjunction with the local Canadore Community College. That same year, Ryker organized the North Bay Symphony Orchestra which gave concerts alone and with the North Bay Choral Society. He also took on the direction of the North Bay Area Band and formed the Northern Musical Arts Association which began as a co-ordinating body for musical activities but which subsequently concentrated on the North Bay SO.

In 1974 the North Bay Theatre and Community Arts Centre (TACC) was formed from an association of many local arts organizations. It purchased the Capitol Theatre from Famous Players and in 1985 renovation of the old building began, under architect Peter Smith, who sought to preserve the intimacy and elegance of the original decor while modernizing the technical features. Within the new arts centre complex is a 1016-seat auditorium with a proscenium stage, fly tower, and full orchestra pit. It is equipped with a 16-channel sound system, computerized lighting, 16 mm projection equipment, with a 5.4 m x 10.8 m flown movie screen. Performers and audience have praised the acoustics. TACC operates the centre throughout the year as a venue for music, theatre, and visual art exhibitions, and accommodates conferences and educational forums. Notable performances in the centre have included those by the Moscow State Symphony, Bolshoi Ballet, National Ballet, Paul Anka, Victor Borge, and many popular country and rock groups.

Other notable performers who have visited North Bay include the Trapp Family Singers (1945), Gregor Piatigorsky (1946), Maureen Forrester, Lois Marshall, John Sebastian, Ronald Turini, the Columbus Boy Choir, the Vienna Academy Chorus, the NACO, and several European orchestras.

Joseph Beaulieu lived and taught in North Bay 1946-65. A music camp and a concert hall-library centre were named in his honour in 1967 and 1968 respectively. North Bay is the home of the McFarlane family of country musicians. 'Dapper Don' McFarlane, head of the family, was one of the original members of the CBC's 'Holiday Ranch.'