In Praise of Local Music Clubs

      Since we have been editing this newsletter we have learned about music clubs in our area in addition to Norfolk Art Song Society, which as you may know was the unofficial impetus for our original e-mail announcements.

      This issue will introduce the Scherzo Music Club of Norfolk. We will add their meetings to our calendar and highlight those that include song. We invite other area music clubs to send us calendar information.

      The first meeting of the season for Virginia Art Song Society was on Mozart Lieder and is reviewed below. This little-known music made an interesting program. Both of these groups have around 40 devoted members who work very hard to put programs together. VASS allows only members to sing while Scherzo has both guest and member performers. Guest listeners are welcome at the Scherzo Music Club, while VASS allows a single trial visit for prospective members for a $15 fee.

 

Scherzo Club

by Margaret Gupta and John Campbell

      If you would like to explore a new music group you could consider a visit to the Scherzo Music Club. On November 13th at 10:30 they will meet at Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church in Norfolk. This meeting will be a celebration of American Music Month. Dora Mullins, violin and Gerry Sawyer, piano will perform American chamber works and Audrey King will perform solo piano pieces. The group has met monthly for 92 years and has been doing so since May of 1910. Anyone with a love for music is most welcome to join. Visitors are also welcome at no fee and a membership is $25 per year.

      A major purpose of the club is to support young singers and instrumentalists. They provide a four-year scholarship to a high school senior going to college to major in music. One of the great pleasures of the program is to hear scholarship recipients perform for the group each year and see how they are growing as musicians.

      Their programs are rich musical fare, primarily by members, but guest artists do perform from time-to-time. The interesting programs include two sets. For example, the February meeting last winter included a recital of theatrical songs and standards by soprano and piano. The second set was by a bassoonist and piano. Sometimes solo instrumentalists are featured, at other times art songs, trios and chamber ensembles.

      Many members are piano teachers, a few are voice teachers. In the early days one had to be a performing musician and pass an audition to join.

The National Federation of Music Clubs

      In 1923 the Scherzo Music Club joined the National Federation of Music Clubs. Scherzo is one 5000 music clubs across the nation with a total membership of 160,000 that have joined together to support and develop American music. The national headquarters is in a beautiful Victorian house in Indianapolis. Founded in 1898, the organization is in its 105th year. There is also a Virginia Federation that is affiliated with the national group. In 1949 the Federation was recognized on the Official Roster of the United Nations. In 1982 the United States Congress chartered the group. The first week in May is National Music Week and November is American Music Month. Their web address is http://www.nfmc-music.org/.

      There are several other local clubs including Portsmouth Music Study Club, Craddock Music Club in Portsmouth and Thoroughgood Music Study Club in Virginia Beach. The newest club is the Music Study Club of Chesapeake, organized in 2000. Rules may vary from club to club, so ask if you are interested in membership in a group in your city. There is a nostalgic connection to their Victorian past. See the Collect on their website. There is a hymn of the month chosen by the National Federation and it is part of the program, sometimes done by the group, a soloist or even a trio. It is especially pleasing to find a group that showcases local talent and promotes musical development of young people.

      The Scherzo programs are held the second Wednesday of the month at 10:30 am at Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church at 6900 Newport Avenue in Norfolk. Call Margaret Gupta at 483-4713 with any questions. Margaret will be featured recitalist for the Portsmouth Music Study Club in a program Music Through the Decades, January 22, at 10:00 am . Check our website for other meeting listings.

 

 

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