The inaugural meeting of the Nanaimo Music Teachers’ Association took place on November 8, 1965 at Crawford Clarke’s Music Store in Nanaimo. It was comprised of ten founding members: Mary Skipsey, Marcelle Jones, Sister Mary Cecilia, Antoinette Clarkson, Ethel Findley, Eleanor Wright, Crawford Clarke, Nancy DeCandole, Audrey Thomas, and Freda Ouimet, President. Joyce Horner became an enthusiastic and visionary member of the branch in June 1967.
The branch was very active in the early years and frequently brought in expert musicians such as Anton Kuerti to give concerts and to inspire both students and teachers through workshops & master classes. Other local accomplished musicians such as Ken Bertram were also frequently featured.
The 30th anniversary of the Branch marked the growth from ten members to fifty. It was celebrated in November 1995 with an enthusiastic recital at Malaspina College. The Branch had spread its musical wings and now encompassed over 1000 students who were receiving instruction in classical music, jazz, and voice.
BCRMTA 1974 Provincial Convention in Richmond
L to R: Joan Gosselin, Joyce Horner, Mildred Macleod, Eleanor Wright, Marcelle Jones, Nancy deCandole
In April 2002, the name of Nanaimo Music Teachers’ Association was changed to the Mid-Island Branch of the BC Registered Music Teachers’ Association to include other members of the region. A high note for the Branch was hosting the extremely successful 2002 Provincial Convention held in Nanaimo on Sept. 20–22 at the Coast Bastion Hotel. Dr. Gloria Venning and her team created a truly enjoyable and inspirational weekend with their tremendous organization and planning.
The renowned American pianist, scholar, and teacher, Nelita True, opened the weekend with a recital at the Port Theatre, followed by lectures and Master Classes on Saturday. The Convention culminated with the BC Piano Competition featuring eight top BC Students.
In November 2005, the Branch celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a Gala Recital at the Evangelical Tabernacle. The performance featured the world Premiere of Vancouver Island Suite, a piano piece by Canadian composer, Stephen Chatman, commissioned as a beautiful and lasting souvenir of this occasion. Three of the original founding members: Audrey Thomas, Mary Skipsey and Nancy de Candole were specially honoured. Performers included a host of current piano, violin and voice students, with featured pianists Devon Joiner, Lianne Seykora, and Michael Onwood.
Our 50th Anniversary is soon approaching in 2015. We are proud to have played a vital educational role in our communities for nearly half a century, and look forward to celebrating this musical milestone!