Ladies’ Friday Musical Club still going strong

BY LOIS CAPLAN

Time flies when you’re having fun, and the members of the Ladies’ Friday Musical Club have been doing just that for 125 years. Their fun, however, is very serious. For a century and a quarter they have been presenting musical programs meant to provide depth and breadth of musical experience and to challenge the skills of the performers. On Sunday, Nov. 11 at 3 p.m. at the Parkway United Church of Christ, 2840 N. Ballas Road, thirty-some very talented women will celebrate the founding at their 125th Anniversary Concert. The ambitious and intriguing program will include works by Beethoven, Debussy, Cherubini, Faure and Shumann, performed by groups of singers, pianists, instrumentalists and string players. Of special interest is Galaxy Suite, a piano work for left hand by St. Louisan Audrey Hammann who composed it for pianist Joanna Lange whose stroke in 1990 left her paralyzed on the right side. The concert is free and open to the public.

In 1882, Mrs. Lizzie Drey, an accomplished pianist and Mrs. Carrie Glaser, a singer with a passion for Wagnerian opera, decided that they and other young Jewish women serious about the study and performance of classical music needed some means to nurture and exercise their art. Other women’s study clubs in St. Louis like The Pioneers, did not spend enough time solely on music for their taste, and performing light pieces at social gatherings was not challenging enough.

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So Lizzie and Carrie organized meetings in each other’s homes one Friday afternoon a month for an hour or so of vocal and instrumental performance and discussion. For most of their 125 years the Ladies’ Friday Musical Club has met at 11 a.m. for an hour long program by the members followed by lunch.

Criterion for membership has always been musical talent. Prospective members have had to audition for a committee before being asked to join. I remember some of my friends quaking in their boots prior to their audition. Since 1972 the Ladies’ Friday Musical Club has been giving scholarship awards to music students. For this year’s 125th celebration a fund-raising cookbook containing club members’ recipes has been compiled, and all proceeds will be used for additional awards. Called Musical Delights, it is a delightful collection of recipes by Ladies’ Friday Musical Club members. It will be available at the concert on Sunday, Nov. 11 for $10 or by mail at $10 plus $3 for shipping and handling. Send your check or money order to Ladies’ Friday Musical Club, 252 Pine Tree Lane, Ballwin, MO, 63011.

UNITED HEBREW CONGREGATION, now firmly ensconced in West St. Louis County at 13788 Conway Road, is about to celebrate a major milestone, its 170th Anniversary. “U.H.”, as I have always called it, has a remarkable history, being the first Jewish congregation west of the Mississippi and only the 20th in the entire country. It was in 1837 just prior to Rosh Hashanah that Abraham Weigel, who was to become the congregation’s first president four years later, and Nathan Abeles, the first secretary, organized a group of men in St. Louis in a rented room over Max’s Grocery and restaurant to hold the first minyan in this city.

That site is now Fifth and Lucas. As the Jewish community continued to increase, United Hebrew moved to larger and larger quarters in an ongoing westward direction. Most of us, I suspect, remember well the beautiful temple on Skinker where Rabbis Samuel Thurman and Jerome W. Grollman, now rabbi emeritus, served for decades as spiritual leaders.

On Sunday, Nov. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the “new” United Hebrew, whose current spiritual leader is Rabbi Howard Kaplansky, there will be a gala celebration in observance of the 170th anniversary. The evening will feature internationally renowned hypnotist Ricky Kalmon, plus food and wine tasting from several popular St. Louis restaurants and caterers, and a live and silent auction. The cost of the fundraising evening is $75 per person. For reservations send your check payable to United Hebrew Congregation, 13788 Conway Road, St. Louis MO 63141 or for more information call the temple office at 314-469-0700.

THE BAD NEWS AND THE GOOD NEWS — The bad news is that, oops, I made a boo boo. I told you that at The Women’s Event, raffle tickets for some pretty scrumptious watches will be $500 each.

The good news is that they are only $25 for each ticket or three for $60, but ever optimistic event chair Roberta Cohen tells me not to worry about the error, as maybe some caring persons will pay the $500 to help support the cause, Gilda’s Club. For more information or for raffle tickets call 314-395-8200.

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