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Washington Voices

Monday Musicale celebrates century of song, comraderie

Members of Monday Musicale run through a song Monday, at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church during a dress rehearsal for the upcoming show to celebrate the group’s 100th anniversary. (Jesse Tinsley)
Members of Monday Musicale run through a song Monday, at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church during a dress rehearsal for the upcoming show to celebrate the group’s 100th anniversary. (Jesse Tinsley)

Spokane’s flag was just recently dug out of storage and is now displayed at City Hall. And on Monday there’s a chance to get another dose of civic pride when “Song of Sunny Spokane” is performed at the Monday Musicale’s 100th anniversary program at Hamblen Park Presbyterian Church.

“It’s become one of our favorite songs to perform throughout the community,” said Donna McMackin, president of Monday Musicale. Several songs about Spokane were copyrighted in the early 1900s. The one presented by the Monday Musicale was copyrighted by Luther Essick, and it’s the fitting finale of a big program presented by the music club.

“We are dedicated to the study of American music and to women composers,” said Shirley Carlton, co-chairwoman of the anniversary program. “For the 100th anniversary program we tried to get as much variety in the program as possible.” Expect pieces by Johannes Brahms, George Gershwin, Antonin Dvorak and Jerry Estes.

The Monday Musicale first gathered at the home of Mrs. C.H. Ludwig in January 1912. Magnild Swanson was a founding member and she helped shape the group’s mission: to study, perform and share music with the community.

“I don’t think there is a composer that hasn’t been studied by us over the last 100 years,” said Carlton, who joined the Monday Musicale a couple of years ago.

The women-only group meets once a month to listen to a presentation about a music-related topic followed by musical performances related to the topic.

Because the group still meets at member’s homes, its membership is capped at 25, and singers and musicians have to perform for the group before they can become members.

“I didn’t know I was auditioning when a friend asked me to sing a duet with her,” said Carlton, laughing. “The formality of the group has certainly lessened over the years, and that’s just fine.”

The Monday Musicale was formed during an era when many women didn’t work outside the home. At the time, women socialized by joining garden, sewing and music clubs.

“We were part of a strong club movement that swept the country in the 1910s and 1920s,” Carlton said. “There were at least three other music clubs in Spokane when the Monday Musicale started.”

Today, the world looks a lot different than it did in 1912.

Carlton said it’s a challenge to maintain membership in a group that only admits women and meets during the day, because younger women work outside the home.

“I think we all worry about what’s going to happen to Monday Musicale as we get older,” said Carlton, who’s a retired music teacher. “But it’s a great group to be a part of. We really enjoy each other.”



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