The Ottawa Musical Arts Club has been bringing together female musicians since its beginnings in 1938, when it was created to provide a place where they could discuss music and enjoy performances.
“You could say that the Musical Arts Club was ahead of its time in 1938, providing an environment for the development of female musicians and composers,” says Carole Portelance, the Club’s scholarship fundraising gala coordinator. “And we think it goes without saying that this need exists as much today as it did 84 years ago.”
As the Club grew, it began to award scholarships to its members to further their education. However, this mandate has changed over the years and the Musical Arts Club now supports young musicians in Ottawa through annual financial assistance to local music organizations. Money for these scholarships comes primarily from membership fees, but the Club periodically presents a benefit concert featuring its members.
The next scholarship fundraising gala concert, titled “A Musical Harvest,” will be on October 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Woodroffe United Church. The program will include various classical chamber pieces ranging from the Baroque period to compositions from the 20th and 21st centuries. It will be the first time that members of the Musical Arts Club have performed together live since the start of the pandemic.
Normally, the club meets monthly from September to May at members’ homes to play music, give presentations, and spend social time. The Club also hosts performances by fellows. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, they had to immediately cancel their March 2020 meeting, as well as all subsequent meetings. They started holding online meetings in September 2020.
Although they continued to provide scholarships, they had to rely solely on membership fees to fund them. The Zoom platform has been fully adapted 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,” explains Portelance. “But the other aspect of our meetings, the social, has forced us to get used to socializing online, whether it’s during our post-meeting social time or our Christmas parties.”
The musicians have now been meeting online for over two years. Normally they would present a fundraising concert every two years, but due to the pandemic the last one was in 2018. Although the Club has persisted, they won’t really get back on their feet until they don’t. will not be able to resume in-person meetings. . They stuck with online performances, as they weren’t sure when they could meet in person without worrying about people’s safety. However, Woodroffe United Church is spacious enough to perform safely in front of an audience, Portelance tells me.
“We’re so excited to share music, live and in person, the way it’s really meant to be. And we sincerely hope that we can convey our enthusiasm, our love of music and our hope for the future in our performances.