A Brief History of the North Bay Branch


The North Bay Branch ORMTA was founded in 1947 by Sydna Shorse. Our membership has grown from fifteen members to twenty-one including members from Sudbury, New Liskeard and Huntsville.

Years ago meetings were planned to assist teachers using the best means available. Recordings from the piano syllabus of the Royal Conservatory of Music were borrowed from the Conservatory. The local radio station of the time CFCH, permitted our early members the use of one of their studios and a turntable that played 331/3 RPM in order that they could listen to the fine performances as well as the comments accompanying the recordings.

Guest speakers at meetings in those days included people involved in painting, and speech arts, as well as drama and dance teachers. This was helpful in understanding the relationships of these disciplines to the art of teaching music. Through the National Film Council, our early members viewed films featuring Myra Hess, Glenn Gould, Dr. Healy Willan and Music in India. The latter described instruments of the Orchestra and the ‘Twenty-two Note Scale’. ‘Man in the Peace Tower’ described the Carrilon and the Carilloner in the Peace Tower at the time.…. Sydna Shorse 1982

Recitals continue to be an important part of our activities. Our ‘Honour Recital’ remains a fixture of Canada Music Week in November each year. At this recital, we recognize the accomplishments of our top students with certificates and in the case of the higher grades, cash awards.  We have added a ‘Hallowe’en’, ‘Candy Cane at Christmas’, a ‘Teens in Jeans’ as well as annual Adult recitals. From time to time we have themed recitals such as a ‘Mozart’ and ‘Duet Recitals’. On several occasions we have hosted Young Artist recitals; the most recent was in October 2014.

We continue our involvement with the annual Kiwanis Music Festival as we have from its inception 50 years ago.  We support it through the donation of numerous trophies. Since 1995 we have supported the ACNMP Contemporary Showcase organized locally by our branch members.

In 1967 as a Centennial Project, our branch presented a new piano to the North Bay Public Library. We replaced that piano in 1992 with another new instrument. For many years following, we have presented a book or recording to the Music Department of the Library. In 1997, our branch 50th anniversary, with the help of a $500.00 donation from the Rotary Club, we established a collection of Canadian Music in a file cabinet at the North Bay Public Library. It was dedicated to the memory of Olive Mullin, a long time, well respected member of our branch.

We hosted our first of many North East Zone conventions in April 1950. Convention workshops have enriched our lives and by extension, those of our students. Some of the clinicians are as follows: Gregory Butler, Kathleen Lohrenz-Gable, Valery Lloyd-Watts, Gwen Beamish, Clayton Scott, Maria Case. In 1972 and 2008 we hosted Provincial ORMTA Conventions.

Additional workshops have been an important part of our musical life as well. Some of the clinicians for these include: Andrew Markow, Charlene Biggs, William Steven, Ronald Turini assisted by Andrew Gallardi, Ian Bradley, William Aide, Earl Moss, Jon Gonder, Elaine Keillor, Anagnoson-Kinton, Marjorie Beckett, Grace Vandendool, Amanda Vick Lethco, Boyd McDonald, Terry Kroetsch, James Lawless, Lynda Rehder-Kennedy, Pierre Gallant, Joseph Ringhoffer, Boyana Toyich, Dr. Anthony Dawson, Paul Coates and Frances Balodis.

Our early members set a standard of excellence to which we continue to aspire. Initially the focus was on communication among members who had previously worked independently. This communication resulted in the sharing of ideas in teaching and further enrichment as teachers. Our branch continues to flourish and makes every effort to remain true to the vision of our founders. This includes eight yearly meetings as well as both individual and branch recitals. We participate in annual workshops for students as well as teachers. Our scrapbooks have repeatedly won Branch Citation Awards and provide a vivid history of our activities.

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