1977 ~ 1991
In 1976, composer/performer Diana McIntosh and Toronto composer Ann Southam(born in Winnipeg), who had met a few years earlier at the Banff School of Fine Arts, decided to put on a concert in Winnipeg featuring current 20th century Canadian art music, with emphasis on mixed media. Diana already had a good track record for presenting concerts, though mainly of traditional concert fare (i.e dead composers), and this new idea was readily supported by numerous donors such as The Winnipeg Foundation, The Mrs. James A. Richardson Foundation, The Manitoba Arts Council and The Winnipeg Art Gallery. And the CBC picked up the music for broadcast on both AM and FM, the inimitable Norm Micklewright in charge.
The event took place at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on April 23, 1977, and it included eight works, all by Canadian Composers (including two Manitobans - John Winiarz and Peter Allen), and of the eight, seven were world premiere performances. That alone was courageous! For this "all-new", multi-media extravaganza, great care had to be taken, not only with equipment, rehearsal and performance details, but also with the name. Nothing short of "Music Inter Alia" (music amongst other things) seemed to be just right.
The concert was terrific. The audience was blown away - some of them have never come back - but Victor Davies, reviewing for the Winnipeg Free Press wrote, "...Bravo music-makers, bravo audience, let's have more concerts like this." As with all pioneering work, it also generated the opposite point of view. Chester Duncan was heard to lament on the CBC, "...with concerts like this, no wonder society is disintegrating."
With Victor's words ringing in her ears (we tend to hear what we want to hear, don't we?), Diana decided that Winnipeg needed an annual contemporary music series, and on November 7th that year she launched it, under it's very appropriate name. (We incorporated in 1978 and were granted a "tax number" in that year). Music Inter Alia has since become well-known throughout Canada, and has at least been heard of in the USA, England, Germany, France and Portugal.
Since 1977, a total of 286 works have been performed. Of these, 188 were Canadian, and of those, 86 were Manitoban. There have been 43 American, 4 Japanese, 4 Russian and 47 other European compositions presented.
Some of this century's great classics were programmed:
1979 - Density 21.5, for solo flute, by Edgard Varese
1980 - Chansons Madecasses, for voice, flute, cello and piano, by Ravel
1981 - Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale), for amplified flute, cello and piano, by George Crumb
1981 - Sonata, for two pianos and percussion, by Bartok
1982 - A Hand of Bridge, for four voices and piano, by Samuel Barber
1982 - L'Histoire Du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale),for chamber ensemble, and narrator, by Igor Stravinsky
1983 - Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps, for chamber ensemble, by Olivier Messiaen
1984 - String Quartet #3, by Bartok
1984 - Five Pieces for String Quartet, by Anton Webern
1985 - The Devil's Instrument, written and read by W.O. Mitchell, with improvised harmonica, percussion and piano
1985 - In Freundschaft, for solo bassoon, by Stockhausen
1985 - Night of the Four Moons, for chamber ensemble, by George Crumb
1985 - Mantra, for 2 pianos and electronics, by Stockhausen
1985 - Concerto for Two Pianos, by Stravinsky
1986 - Harlequin, for clarinetist/dancer/actor, by Stockhausen
1988 - Chamber Symphony, Op.9, for 15 players, by Schoenberg
1989 - Pierrot Lunaire, for voice and chamber ensemble, by Schoenberg
From the outset, the stated objective of Music Inter Alia has been the promotion of 20th century music, particularly Canadian, through presentation of concerts, and the com- missioning of new works. Through The Canada Council and the Manitoba Arts Council we commissioned 42 new compositions, 21 of them from Manitoban composers. In 1981 we started an annual competition for emerging composers in Manitoba, with a $500.00 award, and a performance on one of our concerts, for the winner. This seemed to give an impetus to creativity.
Many of our concerts were picked up by CBC Radio for national broadcast on its prestigious "Two New Hours", out of Toronto on Sunday evenings.
For our 1986-87 season we expanded our three-concert series into a four-concert series, and have continued at that level.
Also in 1986-87 we began a special audience-building program. In April 1987 we reported to The Canada Council that, "....we are having small, free, informal home concerts for the uninitiated (friends and acquaintances of our concert goers), a couple of weeks before each concert. A few musicians perform typical Music Inter Alia concert works. The audience is very involved by virtue of the intimate setting, and being invited to comment and ask questions. We call these concerts "Music Inyer Housia". Thirty- five people attended the recent one, and were very enthusiastic."
Our December 1987 report to the Manitoba Arts Council (MAC) included the following note about Music Inyer Housia..."The people who attended these freebies have been very enthusiastic. They have asked questions, entered into discussions, applauded like mad, gobbled up the refreshments and stayed away in droves from the regular MIA concerts. To quote our eloquent Artistic Director...`Poop!!'" (Actually, some of these people did even- tually begin appearing at the regular concerts.)
In the Spring of 1989, CBC Radio attended a "Housia" concert, and picked up for national broadcast on its "Sunday Morning" show, some of the music, and interviews with Diana, some of the other musicians, and members of the audience.
The majority of our performers have been drawn from Winnipeg's rich resource. To expand the view of our audience, we sometimes engaged artists from other parts of Canada and elsewhere, including Robert Aitken, flute; Rivka Golani, viola; Beverley Johnston, percussion; Erica Goodman, harp; Ramon Parcells, trumpet; Joseph Pertric, accordion; Phyllis Mailing, soprano; The Purcell Quartet; The York Winds; Arraymusic; The Canadian Electronic Ensemble; and from The Toronto Dance Theatre, Grace Miyagawa and Christopher House. As mentioned earlier, we had W.O. Mitchell read one of his stories - The Devil's Instrument - with some improvised instrumental music; and Richard Ouzounian narrated Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat. A theatre piece by Michael Colgrass - "The Beethoven File" - featured actors Harry Nelkin and Max Tapper. Yes, the Max Tapper. We also had the Da Capo Chamber Players from New York.
We surveyed our audience to ask if there was a particular sort of music they would like us to program - certain instruments, composers or nationalities. It was a useful exercise. Surprisingly, no one asked for bagpipes. But we were surprised when Norm Micklewright responded to the question "..would you like to hear more electronic music", with a very definite, "Gawd, no!"
Sometimes changes in program plans had to be made for various reasons, some of which could perhaps be considered beyond our control. For example, in our report to the Manitoba Arts Council in December 1983, we said... "Plans for our second concert - on February 21, 1984 have been changed a couple of times (from Poulenc's "Aubad" - too expensive, and from dancer Judith Marcuse - too pregnant), and we are now delighted to be presenting two principal dancers from The Toronto Dance Theatre."
In 1987-88 we made a concerted effort to liaise with our counterparts in Minneapolis/St. Paul. As a result, we were invited to do a concert at the University of Minnesota in May 1989, featuring Canadian music, and a workshop with Dr. Kenneth Nichols, (a Manitoban composer at Brandon University). This was partially sponsored by the Canadian Consulate in St. Paul. Last year our programming included two works by Minnesotan composers.
We had been wanting to make a connection with the prodigious new music scene in southern California, and through a New York connection got an exciting contact with the Almont Ensemble, of Pasadena, in 1989. As a consequence, we presented two members of that ensemble in our October 1990 concert, and they included two Manitoban works in their repertoire. Karin Erhardt, a local cellist, performed in a trio with them.
We also pursued a British connection, "Canadians and Classics", in London, who feature several Canadian compositions each year in their String Orchestra series. At least two Manitoban composers have been heard there, and pianist Margaret Bruce, their Artistic Director, performed for us in 1989. Over the years we have done a bit of touring, per- forming whatever 20th century works we were asked to do that were in our repertoire. Perhaps the most thrilling of these works was Crumb's "Voice of the Whale", which Laurel Ridd, Carolyn Nagelberg and Diana honed to an especially fine art. They did workshops on the piece, and then performed it, and in 1982 a reviewer for the Brandon Sun wrote, "Never in the history of Brandon concerts has there been one to match the Music Inter Alia group that performed in Evans Theatre on Tuesday evening......". It truly is a stunning piece of music.
Tours were also made to Neepawa and Baldur, as well as the one to Minneapolis, referred to earlier. The works performed on tour were in addition to the 286 done at our 48 regular concerts in Winnipeg.
1984-85 was the year Diana spent seven months in New York on a major arts grant from MAC, to immerse herself in contemporary music and to write an orchestral work. She came home many times during the period to put on the MIA concerts, for Christmas, etc., and it was a very rewarding experience - not only for her, but for the music scene in Manitoba. We are all beneficiaries of what she learned and the contacts she made in New York. Her own creativity was certainly given an impetus, and we've felt her stretch our minds and perceptions, and most of the time we've had some fun too.
But the other great benefit to the music scene here has been in the people she met there and contracted to perform for Winnipeggers --- Maestro Robert Black, theTexan linebacker/ poet who conducted Kiviuq, by McIntosh; Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and his Chamber Symphony; Gonneville's Variations Auras; and Bernard Rand's Canti del Sole. And the duo piano team of Grant and Winn, who wowed us with Stockhausen's Mantra in 1985, and with Memento, by Michael Colgrass, in 1988. Our 10th anniversary season, 1987-1988, included New York's clarinetist/dancer/mime artist Jean Kopperud, performing Stockhausen's Harlequin and Animus III, by Jacob Druckman, and she returned for what has turned out to be our final season with her own one-woman show, "Cloud Walking". Another stunning performance that gave us a glimpse at what is going on elsewhere in the world. Almost all of these visiting musicians stayed in the McIntosh home.
In February 1989 the new government of Manitoba changed all but one of the 15 members of the Manitoba Arts Council. Until that time we had enjoyed full support for what we were doing, and the way we did it. Our grant applications were well received, and we were frequently complimented by MAC for their completeness and clarity, and for the success of our programming. A few of their comments:
".....to congratulate you on your successful season, particularly on your initiative and
determination in developing a fine incentive for young composers."
June, 1982 Julian D. Benson, Chairman
".....may I express on behalf of the Council, our thanks to the board and staff of your
organization for their efforts in Manitoba's cultural community."
June, 1983 Jan D'Arcy, Chair
".....The volunteer board is the essence of our cultural community and your efforts and
those of your fellow board members warrant our thanks."
June, 1984 Barbara Angel, Chair
".....The Council is pleased to continue its support to Music Inter Alia, an organization
that enlivens our cultural scene."
June, 1985 Barbara Angel, Chair
".....our congratulations on past accomplishments, and our best wishes for success as
you embark on your second decade of presenting new music."
July, 1987 Savelia (Risia) Sytnick
Performing Arts Consultant
".....pleased to note the new ventures planned for the 1988-89 season, particularly the
connections to be made with the Minnesota Composers' Forum in St. Paul and the
presentation of new music concerts in rural Manitoba communities."
June, 1988 Cynthia Coop, Chair
Suddenly, that support collapsed.
After submitting our 1989/90 application on time for the May 1st deadline, we were told in July that we would no longer be supported through the Operating Grant program, but would be funded under a new "Concert Series Grant" program - for 1/2 our previous year's grant. But we could now apply under a newly established "Composers Performance Grant" program for up to $2,500.00 per concert in support of musicians' fees for the preparation and performance of Manitoban repertoire. We scrambled to meet this new and unexpected requirement, although our season was naturally virtually set. We were granted the required funding.
In April 1990, when we applied for our 1990-91 funding, we took the new requirements into account and included the now mandatory large number of Manitoban works. But the rules were changed again. The Concert Series Grant applications were judged by a jury. Late in September we were awarded $3,150. (last year $6,000.) But it wasn't until mid-November, a week after our second concert, that we were advised that our grant under the Composers Development and Performance Preparation Grant program was $3,000. (last year $7,000.) Evidently someone didn't like our programming!
When our grants this year were cut to less than 50% of normal, several months after ourcommitments were in place, it became impractical to continue. But we did meet all our commitments and we paid all our bills.
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We have learned a great deal from running Music Inter Alia, and we are very
grateful to all our supporters, including MAC - they clearly have financial and other
problems. We sincerely hope they get back on track quickly so the new groups can
gain a proper sense of direction and support. We also hope that the growing new
music audience will continue to be able to compare our Manitoban composers with
the best from elsewhere, in future new music concerts.
~ ~ ~
We think special mention should be made of our Lighting and Stage Manager,
Ian Fillingham, and our Technician, Clive Perry. For a series like ours, these
are vitally important positions, and both these men were thoroughly capable
and reliable, and it was a pleasure to work with them.
~ ~ ~
Our appreciation for those who served on our Board of Directors over the years
cannot be adequately expressed. Suffice it to say that they have been crucial to our
success. We usually met formally four or five times a year, and the meetings were
in-depth discussions of finances as well as where we had been and where we were
headed artistically. Their input was indispensable. Our original Board was made
up of Diana McIntosh, Ann Southam, Grant McIntosh and Dorothy Coulter. In 1980
Jeannie and Paul Gilbert and Earle Pollard joined the Board. The Gilberts resigned
in 1984 to take care of a newly arrived baby, and Marlene Milne joined the Board.
In 1986 Ann Southam resigned to have more time available for other interests,
including the formation in Toronto of the Association of Canadian Women
Composers, which is flourishing. To maintain a close link with the contemporary
music scene in Eastern Canada we were fortunate to have Ulla Colgrass of Toronto
replace Ann on the Board. In 1987 Eleanor Buckelew replaced the late Dorothy
Coulter as Secretary, but pressure of other commitments forced her to resign in
1989, although she continued to organize our mailing sessions.
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Our special group of volunteers, who five or six times a year brought dinner to
someone's home, (we called them "stuffing parties"), and then spent three or four
hours putting the mailings together for our list of subscribers, donors and prospec-
tive audience, are of particular pride to us. Most of them were with us from the
beginning, and share our sense of achievement. They certainly have been a part of
~ ~ ~
A few significant figures, for the full 14 years:
Administration (including printing $46,543.) $106,024 30%
Paid to performers:
Manitoban $ 95,344
Other Canadian 33,270
Other production expenses 99,911
Total Artistic Expenses 251,208 70%
Total Operating Expenses $357,232 100%
Total contributed by the Manitoba Arts Council $116,567 33%
Total contributed by The Canada Council 107,800 30%
Other funds raised 132,865 37%
Total Income $357,232 100%
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It has been a fascinating 14 years - filled with inspiration, discovery and stimulating people. We look forward to more discoveries ahead.
In late 1997 it was decided by the Board of Directors to disolve the Music Inter Alia Inc. corporation, and to distribute its surplus, which amounted to $6,400.00. A donation of $6.000.00 was made to The School of Music of the University of Manitoba, and $400.00 to the Canadian Music Centre, Prairie Region. These organizations will use the funds to promote contemporary music.
Written by D. Grant McIntosh