As founder of the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, Ethel Stark broke down barriers, becoming the first woman to conduct an orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1947 and welcoming Violet Grant States as the first black woman member of a Canadian symphony orchestra. Stark made a name for herself first as a violin soloist, performing on a Stradivarius both in live concerts and radio broadcasts. She studied at the McGill Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music before founding the MWSO in 1940. Because most women trained only on piano or stringed instruments, this required her to train flute, trombone, and tuba players to fill out all the spots. Stark compared the scale of the achievement to building the Empire State Building. She brought Violet States into the orchestra in 1943. Ethel Stark retired as conductor in the 1960s and taught for several years at the Conservatoire de musique du Quebec a Montreal.
More on Ethel Stark
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Ethel Stark." (Viewed on August 10, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/stark-ethel>.