Canada Music Week® was initiated in 1960 to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association (CFMTA). Canada Music Week is celebrated during the third week of November.
In 1957 Violet Isfeld, who was then president of the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association, proposed that a National Week for Music be initiated in 1960 to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Federation. The response was enthusiastic and the celebration so successful that the next year (1961) it was decided by CFMTA council to make “Canada Music Week” an annual event.
In 1963 Reginald Bedford, president, suggested the setting-up of a committee with the convener for Canada Music Week, Sister M. Rodriguez Steel of Nova Scotia and Eleanor Patch of British Columbia were appointed as co-conveners. (Arthur Putland succeeded Miss Patch in 1969). It was also decided that Canada Music Week be observed the last full week of November to coincide with Saint Cecilia’s Day thereby giving church musicians the opportunity to contribute to the special week.
In 1969 Flora Goulden, president, wrote to each Provincial Premier to ask for their initial interest and co-operation through their Minister of Education and thence to their schools. To achieve greater National unity in the observance of the 10th Anniversary of Music Week, a Poster Competition was under taken and continued on an annual basis with popular support.
For nine years the directors of Canada Music week were chosen by CFMTA council. Now each Province is autonomous in its programming. From 1970 to 1992, Helen Dahlstrom chaired the project and was Editor of the Canada Music Week Magazine. From 1993 to 1998, the National Co-ordinator was Penny Joynt from Meacham, Saskatchewan. From 1999 to 2001 Lore Ruschiensky from Regina, Saskatchewan was the co-ordinator and from the 2001 to 2008, the co-ordinator was Ron Spadafore from Timmins, Ontario. Publicity material is available in the form of seals, poster and pencils.
Canada Music Week is dedicated to music in its fullest sense but since 1967 particular stress has been focussed on the Canadian cultural content.
The Music Writing Contest was introduced in 1971 in an effort to simulate young people in the art of musical composition. It is open to all students of members of CFMTA. A highlight was the performance of four winning original compositions heard in concert at the CFMTA Convention in Halifax, July 1973. This special event was the result of a general invitation for all composers to compete whether they be professional or amateur. Manuscripts were submitted from Canada, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, France, Norway, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Judges have included Dr. Violet Archer, the late Robert Fleming, Godfrey Ridout, Jean Papineau-Couture, Talivaldis Kenins and Keith Bissell.
In 1998 the process to have the Canada Music Week name registered as a trademark was undertaken by CFMTA. As of September 2002 this process has now been completed and the Canada Music Week name is a trademark.
Canada Music Week activity has now become a positive experience for thousand of Canadians. Radio and TV coverage, press, magazines, libraries, schools universities, composers, symphony orchestras, concert societies, church choirs, organists, all uniting in the ever-expanding promotion of Canada Music Week. This is the direct result of the tremendous effort put forth by members of the CFMTA who have responded to the challenge with enthusiasm and created an air of music awareness and festivity throughout the country.
This history was written by Thelma Wilson, Past President of CFMTA, and updated by Ron Spadafore, past National Canada Music Week Convenor.