The Musical Arts Club of Ottawa has been bringing together women musicians since its start in 1938, when it was created to provide a venue where they could discuss music and enjoy performances.
“You could say that The Musical Arts Club was ahead of its time in 1938, providing a supportive environment for women musicians and composers to flourish,” says Carole Portelance, the Club’s Scholarship Fundraising Gala coordinator. “And we believe it goes without saying that this need exists as much today as 84 years ago.”
As it grew, the Club began awarding scholarships to its members to further their studies. However, this mandate changed over the years, and the Musical Arts Club now supports young Ottawa musicians through yearly financial assistance provided to local music organizations. The money for these scholarships comes primarily from membership fees, but the Club periodically presents a fundraising concert featuring its members.
The next Scholarship Fundraising Gala concert, titled “A Musical Harvest,” will take place on October 15 at 7:30pm at Woodroffe United Church. The program will include various classical chamber pieces ranging from the baroque period to 20th and 21st-century compositions. This will be the first time Musical Arts Club members will perform together live since the beginning of the pandemic.
Normally, the Club meets monthly from September to May in members’ homes to perform music, give presentations, and enjoy some social time. The Club also hosts performances by scholarship winners. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, they had to immediately cancel their March 2020 meeting, along with all following meetings. They began holding online meetings in September 2020.
While they’ve continued to award scholarships, they have had to rely solely on membership fees to fund them. The Zoom platform has been entirely suitable for solo performances, but not for ensembles of musicians performing from their respective homes.
“A few of us presented pre-recorded performances, as well as presentations,” says Portelance. “But the other aspect of our meetings, the social one, required us to become used to socializing online, whether this was during our after-meeting social time or our Christmas parties.”
The musicians have now been meeting online for over two years. Normally, they’d present a fundraising concert every two years, but due to the pandemic, the last one was in 2018. While the Club has persisted, they won’t truly be back on their feet until they can resume in-person meetings. They’ve stuck with online performances, as they weren’t completely sure when they could gather in-person without worrying about people’s safety. However, Woodroffe United Church is spacious enough to perform safely for an audience, Portelance tells me.
“We are so looking forward to sharing music, live and in-person, as it is really meant to be. And we sincerely hope we will be able to convey our excitement, love of music, and hope for the future in our performances.”
Learn more about the Musical Arts Club of Ottawa here and buy tickets for their October 15 fundraising concert on Eventbrite. Tickets are $35 ($15 for students) and will also be available at the door.