[From Mannin #1,1913]
I have been asked to write something about Music in the Island, but the subject is rather large to be adequately treated in the limits of a Magazine article.
Looking back fifty years, music was cultivated in more enthusiastic, loving spirit than it is now. Singers would meet together and practice away at Oratorio for the sheer love of Music, although their efforts in public performances were not invariably successful.
Singing at sight has always been a weak subject among Manx singers, consequently they had to be dragged along somehow, those who could not read music leaning upon those who knew something about it. I heard of one person who was urged by a local conductor to join his Choral Society. She objected that she could not sing, "Oh well, never mind, bring your knitting" was the reply.
In the beginning, the "Guild" as we call it, owes it origin to the late Miss Wakefields successful Competitions. I had the pleasure of a long interview with Miss Wakefield at her pretty home "Nutwood" Grange over Sands, where she explained very fully her methods, showed me her studio, a small building in the woods surrounding her house. It contained a piano, and all the accumulation of papers connected with the competitions, which she kept pasted in enormous books specially made for the purpose. I was fortunate enough to persuade the Committee of the Fine Arts and Industrial Guild to add Music to their list of subjects : we began in very modest way, and the competitions growing from year to year, at length assumed their present dimensions.
While there exists undoubtedly a large amount of vocal talent all through the Island, it is a great pity that instrumental music generally is at a low ebb. We ought to have a municipal Orchestra, available all the year round.
At Bournemouth the town rates are considerably relieved, by means of the performances of the Municipal Orchestra. It is deplorable that we have not a band of our own capable of accompanying such difficult music as is now set for the Annual "Guild" Concert.
With regard to Church Music, that has lagged behind, and what is wanted is the formation of a Diocesan Choral Society with a visiting choirmaster from across the water Anthem performances are not the be all and end all of our church services, and the tone distinctly wants raising.
Although the "Music Guild" has done much to improve music, still there is here, as across the water, too much of the competing spirit, and too little of the real love of singing or playing for Arts sake and that alone.
True musicians in our little island should all work earnestly together for such a desirable end.
M. L. WOOD.