NORTH YORK / YORK REGION BRANCH MEMORIES

The North York Branch of the O.R.M.T.A. has been around almost as long as the O.R.M.T.A. has been!  Some of you may remember Bill Vaisey, who was persistent in the pursuit of music-making for our Branch in the 1960’s!  One of the first organized groups of highly qualified music teachers in the province, our North York Branch grew to be so large, that in 2002, we decided to split it up and become two branches:  the North York/York Region Branch and the Newmarket & Area Branch. 

Since the GTA has a large population, our Branch has been able to give wonderful performance and educational opportunities to our students and teachers through our Spring and Fall “Auditions”; our Canada Music Week activities and special awards;  workshops for both youth and adult students;  Awards Festivals;  as well as numerous teachers’ workshops. 

Many of our present members have been a part of our branch for over 20 years.  We have been fortunate to have been inspired by previous members, many of whom are now deceased. Our mentors and peers – the teachers and performers who have put their students’ needs first, and who have been memorialized by our scholarship programs, include our forever frugal treasurer Ralph Markham; past-president Margaret Kwan who always had lavish general meetings at her home, or in one of her Chinese restaurants and left us a generous $5,000 scholarship;  Edna & Margaret Silver, long-time and very active members of the ORMTA whose thoughtful planning has left us to this day a $3,000 scholarship;  Lorraine Muter-Humber who was always generous holding auditions and performances in her home, and encouraging especially the very young musicians;  the numerous Sisters of St. Josephs’ who shared their love of music as well as their love of God with our young musicians.  These included Sr. Teresa O’Brien and Sr. Mary Lawrence (who was my own personal inspiration to join the O.R.M.T.A. in the ‘80’s!).  If these stalwart and dedicated teachers had not been so loyal,  we would not have a scholarship fund! 

As members of O.R.M.T.A., we have been integral in Inspiring and encouraging some former students in choosing the path of being music teachers. Winnie Ma, Andrea Yau, and Audrey Lam are just three current members who joined because of their mentor teachers. 

We were a very small branch in our inception and not so organized, but we have grown to be a very successful, well-ordered and efficient branch thanks to our many dedicated member volunteers.  Josette Midroni is, I believe, one of our most long-serving veterans, who continues to support our musical endeavours and who is present at almost every meeting.  Long-time treasurer, Hanna Gicza, whose ongoing and unrelenting dedication to balancing our books keeps us in the black!  Long-suffering and stoic Anita Chan’s tireless work in organizing our Auditions;  Arianne Ewing-Chow, who while raising two toddlers continues to be superlative in planning the annual Awards Festival;  Audrey Lam, our computer whiz, also a-la-baby days!  And  Victoria Gimelshtein and Myriam Shechter who are forever inspiring us with their continuous dedication to the organization by their presence at every event, and with the generous use of their homes, and their wonderful cooking skills! 

A special congratulations to the O.R.M.T.A. organization who continues to encourage excellence in music as you celebrate your 80th anniversary! 

- submitted by Carolynne Davy, President, North York/York Region Branch


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