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Washington Voices

Monthly Spokane gatherings promote music, arts

In 1915, Spokane music lovers didn’t have the luxury of iPods, compact discs or stereo systems. Instead, they found a more sociable way to enjoy music and to foster performance arts in the area. A group of mothers and daughters launched Friday Musical.

Each month on a Friday afternoon, one of the members hosted a musical gathering in her home. The featured performance might include piano recitals or opera arias. Ninety-five years later, the tradition continues.

Recently, the group met at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and enjoyed a performance by a cello quartet and a reading by local author Bernie Loposer. While the organization’s dedication to the arts remains unchanged, some things have been altered over the years. Though membership is by invitation only, performances not held in private homes are now open to the public. In addition, board president Patricia Sexton said, “Traditionally, it’s been ladies only, but our club is in transition.”

Longtime member Carol Graef said the group faces challenges finding new members. “So many women are working full time,” she said. She became part of Friday Musical many years ago and has enjoyed the support her fellow musicians offer.

Graef, a cellist, played on and off with the Spokane Symphony for 40 years. “Friday Musical provides needed food for our creativity nourishment,” she said. “The value of keeping your art alive is something that women cherish.”

Not all members are musicians. Vice president Sharon Rodkey Smith said arts patrons and concert-goers also enjoy the monthly gatherings.

Currently, Friday Musical includes 28 performing members, persons professionally involved in the larger music community, whether teaching or performing. “They actually supply the music for our programs,” Smith said.

In addition, the group includes 19 associate members. “These are basically community women who are supportive of the arts,” said Smith.

She learned about Friday Musical through her mother, who has long enjoyed membership. “I remember this group was special to my mom. It was so important to her musical world,” she said.

When Smith moved back to Spokane to care for her aging parents, she was asked to join the organization. “It’s such a lovely group of arts people,” she said. Though her mother has Alzheimer’s, Smith still takes her to the monthly meetings. “These women have been her friends for many years. It’s an environment she feels comfortable in.”

Not only does Friday Musical promote the arts within their membership, it also invests in the arts in the community at large, Sexton said. “We support the Spokane Symphony, Spokane Area Children’s Chorus, Spokane Youth Symphony, Allegra, and Baroque and Beyond.”

As the group looks forward to its centennial celebration, Sexton said, “Friday Musical plans to continue to present beautiful, artistic and meaningful performances to our members and guests and to support the arts in Spokane. We’re aiming high for our 100th year.”

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