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The Sound of Laughter

For months, our readers felt the anticipation ahead of WMC's 130th Gala Anniversary event at The Leaf. And what a celebration it was! Tomson Highway will tell you that "the most beautiful music in the world is the sound of laughter", and laughter was certainly what he heard as he spun a collection of delightful stories and songs for the appreciative, sold-out crowd. Besides this, the audience was treated to greetings by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba Her Honour Anita Neville, by the Executive Director of the Wpg Arts Council Carol Phillips, by the the offices of Mayor Gillingham and the Province of Manitoba, and by WMC co-presidents Sandra Roberta and Sareli Deraj. Guest singer Andrina Turenne joined Tomson in a few of his songs.  Read a wonderful article written by Holly Harris for the Winnipeg Free Press here. And here are the details in pictures as captured by photographer Mark Rash.

The enthusiastic audience enjoyed every moment. Pictured here are Laurel Malkin and David Folk. The smiles at the next table belong to Carol Philips (Executive Director of WAC), Tannis Richardson (Past President of WMC), Karen Menkis, singer-songwriter Andrina Turenne, and freelance journalist Holly Harris.


Here's another "take" on our journey to this day, penned by board member Alison Baldwin:

It all started on a cold Covid Friday evening in February 2022, when I was sitting on my couch thumbing through the booklet about the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg, authored by Dr. Kathryn Young, With Every Note Played. I read through the list of scholarship winners starting in 1915, but not being a Winnipegger, didn’t recognize most of the names.

When I reached 1974, I read that a Tom Highway had won the $500 Scholarship for piano. Tomson had recently published his book Permanent Astonishment, which I had read and loved, (and from which I learned that I was a “mooney-ass”), and I had listened to his interviews on the CBC. I immediately wondered whether he remembered WMC. So I wrote him an email, expressing how excited I was to discover that he was a scholarship winner, how much I had enjoyed his books and plays, and letting him know that if he was ever in Winnipeg, we would be incredibly honoured to have him as a guest at one of our concerts. With trepidation I pressed ‘send’. To my amazement and delight there was a reply the next morning, saying essentially, "Ah, yes. The Women’s Musical Club. Done so much for the cultural life of Winnipeg for so long."

And there it remained for a few months until thoughts turned to planning for this anniversary. Board member Laurel Malkin realized that our 130th would coincide with 50 years since that award was presented to Tomson by Mrs. Tannis Richardson, our president at the time. Our wildest dreams got wilder. We wondered if we should be so bold as to invite Tomson back to WMC after half a century, for our 130th. And so we wrote an invitation via email, ‘high fived’ in Laurel’s kitchen, and pressed ‘send’ again.

The outcome was Tomson’s acceptance, noting that all he required was a beautiful grand piano which he felt sure WMC would have no problem in supplying.

When asked by his agent why he had accepted the invitation, Tomson reportedly replied, “they gave me a scholarship when I was a kid”.  For me, that says it all. That is what this is all about, and that we should be all here to witness this come full circle, is exhilarating and so fitting for this 130th celebration. We were so honoured that Tomson Highway was here for this milestone occasion. 


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