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History of the Royal Oak Musicale

Royal Oak Musicale was organized in 1924; its  object  being “to foster and promote music and musical interests in the community”  The club was first called Monday Musicale of Royal Oak.  (The club became the Royal Oak Musicale in 1940) The first Constitution and By-laws were presented and accepted March 12, 1924.  The club was federated with the National Federation of Music Clubs during that first year, and Grace Davis was appointed the club’s official delegate to the State Convention in Lansing.

The first officers were:  Pearl Weikel, President; Grace Davis, Vice-President; Eva Kenaga, Secretary; Dora Curtis, Treasurer; and Florence Miller, Corresponding Secretary.  The first committees were: Social, Membership, and Press.
 
The first meetings were usually held in members’ homes, with larger gatherings in the Methodist Church.  Over the years, the club met at the Royal Oak Women’s club, and since 1986, has met at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
 
Generally the meetings opened with the singing of a patriotic song, e.g., the national  anthem, America the Beautiful, Michigan My Michigan, etc.   The NFMC Hymn of the month was often sung.  Early meetings included book study, using the NFMC Study Courses.  Members volunteered to present papers on music appreciation, folk music, development of choral music, music in the movies.  Often programs were devoted to composers, including performance of some of that composer’s work.  Examples include:  November, 1927 Beethoven Day; March 1928: Richard Wagner, November, 1928: Schubert.
 
Other meetings include programs on opera; especially French, Italian and German operas.  Some programs also included folk music from the Americas, French, Russian, English, German, Spanish, Polish, and Scandinavian traditions.  A program devoted to Women in Music was held in September, 1928; a presentation on the Pipe Organ in March, 1930, a program contrasting Sacred and Secular Music in October, 1938.
 
A Junior Club was organized in 1925, with the first meeting in November, 1925.  The Junior Club was federated with the NFMC  in October, 1926.
Other music clubs presented programs, and ROM reciprocated by performing for their clubs.  Among these were the Mt. Clemens Music Club, Birmingham Music Club, Highland Park Music Club, St. Cecilia Society of Flint, Tuesday Musicale of Pontiac, Tuesday Musicale of Rochester, Tuesday Musicale of Detroit, and Dearborn Musicale.
 
National Music Week was celebrated each year during the first week in May.  A special celebration was held in 1926 as the club sponsored a Community Singing Night on May 3, 1926.  Presently ROM presents a salute to music and musicians by an exhibit at the Royal Oak Public Library each May.
 
A Chorus was  formed in November, 1924.  Early Chorus directors were: Federal Whittlesey, Cyril Barker, Hilda Moore, Mrs. Baxter, Louise Reaveley, Walter Porter, and Adelaide Herron.  In later years, the chorus was led by Janet Lee, Kerry Price, Geoff Stanton, Dan Dillingham, Sylvia Hartsoe, and our present Director, Twylia Voshol.    A Madrigals group was started in 1960 with Janet Lee as Director.  Subsequent directors were Mary Lou Cross, Marion Kelly,  Sylvia Hartsoe, and Twylia Voshol.   A Bell Choir was formed in the 1980s.
 
A Drama Group was active in the early days.   Presentations included:
  • May, 1961: A Farce in One Act for the Fair Sex
  • February, 1965: Monette – A Grass Roots Opera
  • October, 1981:  Will The Meeting Puh-leeze Come to Order and Grand Operoar!
 
For many years the club had a theme for the year, e.g.,
  • 1965-66: Musical Pallette (Colors in Music)
  • 1967-68: Something Old – Something New
  • 1968-69:  Musical Expressions
  • 1969-70:  Music of the Western World
  • 1970-71:  Joy of Service Through Music
  • 1971-72:  Happiness in Participation
  • 1972-73:  Let’s Ignite Our Spirits With Music
  • 1973-74:  Past, Present, and Future
  • 1974-75:  Music Makes the World Go Round
  • 1975-76:  America 1976 – Old As Freedom- New As Tomorrow
  • 1976-77:  Independence (A Different Drummer)
  • 1977-78:  Kaleidoscope  - For Your Listening Pleasure
  • 1978-79:  Music is . . . Remembering, Enjoyment, Understanding
 
The club sponsored workshops, including An Organ workshop I 1976, and a Performing and Study workshop.
 
A Student Aid Fund was established in 1974 by the past presidents of the club.  Through the years many donations have been made in memory of friends and family members, including several large donations:
In 1967 $2,500 from the will if Helen Andrews
In 1992 Gladys David endowed a $10,000 fund
In 1998 Robert and Sylvia Leggett donated over $30,000 in stocks.
 
The Club holds an annual fund raiser each March for the Student Aid Fund.   The Financial Awards Committee recommends to the club to grant financial awards to graduating high school seniors who intend to study music in college.  Amounts given each year are usually $5,000-$9,000.
 
Early social events included an annual Men’s night, picnics, and special celebrations for anniversaries, including a dinner, vocal selections and special musical performances.  The 25th Anniversary was held in 1949 at the First Methodist church;   the 50th Anniversary in 1974 was A Musical Gala at Kingsley Inn;  and the 75th anniversary was held at Farina’s Banquet Center.    Presently there is a tea after each program for socialization and to meet the performers.
 
As of 2013, Royal Oak Musicale is still active with its goals to promote music in the community and to assist students who wish to major in music.  The club sponsors a program monthly from September through May open to the public, featuring music from guest artists and club members.  The Women’s Chorus  and the Madrigal Singers perform for club programs and in other community settings, including rehab and retirement centers and nursing homes.   The Women’s Chorus also performs at many of the Michigan Federation of Music Clubs state conventions held each year in May.