Honorary Degree Citation - Ethel Stark*

by Katherine Waters, November 1980

Mr. Chairman, I have the honour to present to you Ethel Stark, distinguished violinist, symphonic conductor, educator and groundbreaker for other musicians, Canadians and women. In her achievements, the creativity of the artist, the vision of the socially committed individual and the courage of the pioneer are linked and made manifest.

As violinist, she was the first Canadian to win a fellowship in worldwide competition to the Curtis Institute of Philadelphia. She has toured and broadcast as violin soloist, nationally and internationally, in hundreds of programs.

At a time when women were almost totally excluded from professional symphony orchestras, she founded in 1940 the Montreal Women's Symphony Orchestra, the first orchestra of its kind in the world, composed of over eighty women and lasting longer than a quarter of a century. It was the first Canadian orchestra to play at Carnegie Hall, and it received concert invitations from Europe and the Far East.

Ethel Stark was Canada's first and only woman to acheive international recognition as a symphonic conductor, guest conducting orchestras in Canada, the United States and Israel, and becoming the first Canadian to conduct the major orchestras of Japan.

Through her research at the Library of Congress, she has contributed to musicology and to the orchestral repertoire. As a teacher she has continued her musical pioneering and her furthering of the careers of others. She was the first Canadian woman to teach at Catholic University in Washington. As professor of violin for fourteen years at Le Conservatoire Provincial she helped her pupils gain access as performers and teachers to world symphonies and conservatories. She has been associated with our own students as a former teacher at Sir George Williams.

Recipient of many honours, she received last year our country's highest award, the Order of Canada. She embodies fully its motto: "They desired a better country." It is particularly fitting that this university, which tries to provide the structures whereby a community can develop its potential , should recognize a native Montrealer whose artistic and innovative life work has been urged on by this goal.

Mr. Chairman, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Ethel Stark, that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased