Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra – The First Canadian Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

On October 22nd, 1947, the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor and co-founder Ethel Stark, became the first Canadian orchestra ever to perform at the illustrious Carnegie Hall in New York. The performance, which was comprised of Weber’s Euryanthe Overture; Sir Ernest MarcMilaln’s Sketches on Canadian Airs; Richard Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration; and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, was very well-received by the New York critics and audience, with members of the press saying things like, “Miss Stark and her energetic eighty performed creditably, and with distinction” (Irving Kolodin, New York Sun). This performance was at a time when women were struggling to be accepted into the classical music profession. Needless to say, not only was Canada well-represented in New York on October 22nd, the success of Stark and her orchestra was instrumental in the battle that female musicians had to wage in order to garner the respect and professional status they deserved.  

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