In the 1940s it was unheard of for women to be members of a professional orchestra, let alone play “masculine” instruments like the bass or trombone. Yet despite these formidable challenges, the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) became the only all-women orchestra in Canadian history. Formed in 1940, the MWSO became the first orchestra to represent Canada in New York City’s Carnegie Hall. The stories of those musicians are illuminated here, including the life of the incredible Ethel Stark, the co-founder and conductor of the MWSO.
Maria Noriega Rachwal is a music teacher and musicologist living in Toronto, Ontario. She has given many lectures on women in music throughout the country and written articles on the subject for professional organizations. Her work on the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra was featured on the CBC Radio documentary, “It Wasn’t Tea Time: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra.”
“This book is sure to please a wide variety of readers: feminists, musicians, historians and any other reader who enjoys a good story, well written and well told.”— AJL Reviews