Vancouver Women’s Musical Society (formerly the Vancouver Woman’s Musical Club) was founded in 1905 and incorporated in 1916 under the guidance of Esther Beecher Weld and Mrs. Walter Coulthard (mother of celebrated BC composer Jean Coulthard). The VWMS stated objective has been the advancement of music in the cultural, social, and educational life of Vancouver and British Columbia. The VWMS was involved in the campaign in 1919 to introduce music into Vancouver schools' curriculum and assisted in the formation in 1919 and revival in 1930 of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
In the absence of professional impresarios in Vancouver, the VWMS presented many famous performers in its early years, beginning in 1908 with Paderewski and continuing with such artists as Clara Butt, Mischa Elman, Amelita Galli-Curci, Josef Hofmann, Liza Lehmann, Benno Moiseiwitsch, William Primrose, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Luisa Tetrazzini, and Eugène Ysaÿe. In 1910, it sponsored three concerts by the New York Symphony Orchestra under Walter Damrosch. From the earliest years, the VWMS also presented Canadian artists such as Barbara Custance, Judith Forst, Kathleen Parlow, Ross Pratt, the Hart House String Quartet, and Robert Silverman. As local impresarios emerged, the Society concentrated increasingly on one of its most important roles, the encouragement of young musicians.
One very significant step in the life of the VWMS was the creation of the Scholarship Fund in 1923. The Scholarship Fund has helped the careers of Mary Anne Barcellona, Aline Kutan, Donald Bell, Jean Coulthard, Barbara Custance, Lea Foli, Ben Heppner, Desmond Hoebig, Gwen Hoebig, Pearl Kerr, Don McManus, Arthur Polson, Robert Rogers, and Bernard Turgeon. In 1976, a memorial trust fund was established to provide bursaries for Canadian music students. Since inception, the VWMS has awarded $265,000 in scholarships and bursaries. Further to receiving money awards, scholarship and bursary winners are presented in recital by the VWMS in their annual concert series.
Born in the early years of Vancouver, the Vancouver Women’s Musical Society claims a special and continuing place in the city’s musical development and support of young talented musicians.