Next Tuesday on January 29 marks what would have been singer Lois Marshall’s 95th birthday.
Canada’s most well-known soprano in the 1950s and 1960s, Lois Marshall received an Artist Diploma from the RCM in 1950 (when she also won the Eaton Graduating Prize for top performance graduate that year).
Following an incredible New York debut (wonderfully captured in this 1953 MacLean’s article – ‘”John Briggs, of the Times, stayed for the encores and the critics never, simply never, stay for the encores. And Peggy Hicks, of the Herald Tribune, applauded enthusiastically. If Lois doesn’t get good reviews I’ll shoot them.'” ) and many performances in North America, she was one of the first foreign artists to tour the USSR in 1958 with pianist (her vocal coach and later, her husband) Weldon Kilburn.
Here is footage of Lois Marshall performing “Hark! The Echoing Air” from “The Fairy Queen” by Henry Purcell. She is accompanied by the Amsterdams Kamerorkest in this performance which aired on 29 September 1963.
In 1965 Marshall was the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate degree from the Faculty of Music.
She began singing as a mezzo-soprano in the mid-70s. In 1986 she began teaching at the Faculty of Music until she passed away in 1997 at age 72.
In 2000, accompanist and lyric diction instructor Che Anne Loewen established the Lois Marshall Chair in Voice with a donation of $250,000. Following additional gifts reaching $750,000 from friends and colleagues, the university matched the donations for a total endowment of $2 million. Voice Professor Lorna MacDonald has held the Lois Marshall Chair in Voice since its inception.
Below is a photo from September 30, 1987 in the common room (now the Barker-Fairley Room) with Professor Oskar Morawetz (left) and Professor Carl Morey at a reception honouring Marshall as recipient of the 1987 Award for Music presented by the Toronto Arts Awards Foundation and Morawetz for receiving the inaugural 1987 Order of Ontario.