April 20, 2022 marks the 9th WMC McLellan Competition for Solo Performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. This biennial competition provides three young musicians on the threshold of their professional careers, not only with cash prizes, but also the unique opportunity to perform in concert with a full symphony orchestra. And behind the McLellan Competition is a very “Winnipeg” story.
The WMC McLellan Competition is named in honour of Mrs. Doris McLellan, who, with her sister Daisy, faithfully attended the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg’s Sunday afternoon concerts. They remarked that a favourite event was the scholarship winners concert held annually in December. They were so impressed with the talent displayed by these young people that Doris developed the idea of leaving an endowment to the Women’s Musical Club that would further the careers of talented Manitoba musicians and vocalists.
Doris and Daisy Motriuk grew up in the north end of Winnipeg. The whole family was employed in a shop where they filleted fish to supply Eaton’s grocery department. The two girls were eventually hired by Eaton’s, Daisy as a merchandise packer and Doris as a coat checker. Alas Doris lasted only one day and was subsequently hired by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a telephone operator. She later became a supervisor and remained employed there for forty years. During that time Doris sang with the Hudson’s Bay Choir and was an active volunteer with such organizations as the Misericordia Hospital, the Salvation Army, the Grace Hospital and Agape Table. Doris’s sister, Daisy, went on to a career in medicine and became a nurse educator for the World Health Organization. The two sisters enjoyed musical entertainment and attended many cultural events - the Symphony, the Art Gallery and the Opera. Doris married Donald McLellan, and they enjoyed many happy years together until his death in 1994. Daisy passed away in 2001, and Doris succumbed to cancer in 2002 at the age of 86. In 2002, the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg learned of her generous bequest and assembled a committee to design a competition set apart from the regular scholarship program.
Launched in 2006 in collaboration with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the McLellan Competition is now in its ninth year. James Manishen, Artistic Director of the WSO, said at the time of the first concert: “It is remarkable that virtually every musician wanting a profession career must study concertos and similar material to be performed with orchestra. But so very few have the opportunity to perform these works with any orchestra, let alone a professional one. That [the WMC] acknowledged this by putting in place a plan to serve such a valuable need and execute such a wonderful event speaks volumes about both your vision and that of your members. The WSO is honoured to be your partner.”
Mary Lynn Duckworth, WMC Chair of Archives