Louisiana Federation of Music Clubs
Historical Sketch of
THE LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF MUSIC CLUBS
In the year 1928, as a result of much musical activity and interest throughout the state of Louisiana, an influential group of 24 musicians met in Baton Rouge Louisiana on April 16th for the purpose of forming THE LOUISIANA FEDERATION OF MUSIC CLUBS. Under the guidance and encouragement of Mrs. W. Carruth Jones, a brilliant and accomplished musician herself, the newly formed group quickly moved ahead. Extension of membership was their main focus. Outstanding results were realized when the second state convention met in Baton Rouge in 1929. “Music in every school in Louisiana” became the slogan of the LFMC, and credit for many of the musical opportunities which schools enjoy today has been given to their efforts!
In 1931, at the National Federation of Music Clubs’ Biennial held in San Francisco, Louisiana won the National Banner for the largest per capita gain in federated music clubs in the nation! At this convention Mrs. W.C. Jones issued an invitation to hold the 1932 Fall Board Meeting of NFMC in Louisiana, with New Orleans being the host city. This event took place at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, from October 17th through 23rd 1932.
In 1940, under the leadership of Mrs. Luther Beene of Shreveport, and the 5th President of LFMC, thirty three new clubs were added to the roster, placing Louisiana in Class I of the National Federation. War service was the most important thrust during this time. Most impressive was a depository of music set up at the Port of New Orleans, where over 3,000 instruments were placed on troop ships. Thousands of copies of sheet music and 12,000 records were placed in army camps. Hundreds of programs were given in hospitals and Red Cross Centers. Also during this period eight scholarships were added, and three rural parish choirs became active members of the Louisiana Federation.
Without doubt the dedicated work of Mrs. Frank A. Vought, of Paincourtville and of Baton Rouge, and the 7th president of LFMC, raised the organization’s achievements to a high level that has not been equaled since! Extension during 1952 - 1954 was rewarded by four national awards, one of which was for the largest increase in Student Clubs, and ranking among the highest in Junior Clubs in the entire nation. Louisiana actively participated in the first Parade of American Music programs. Mrs. Vought and her co-workers participated in youth auditions held in conjunction with the Lauritz Melchior Shows. Area winners appeared with Mr. Melchior, a famous tenor, on his scheduled concerts. Also, they participated in the “Youth Brings You Music” program, which presented young talent from each state federation, and was broadcast over NBC network. The first all string Junior Club in the state was federated by Mrs. Vought, and the first “Festival of Strings” was inaugurated. For this activity LFMC received a National Award of Merit, the first of its kind in the nation. Another first was an all dance group federated in Louisiana. A Banner Contest at the State Junior Convention was inaugurated. The use of Louisiana Folk Music was promoted. A monthly newsletter was mailed to every club and individual member as a means of disseminating information. The list goes on and on! For a complete record of this amazing number of achievements, one must refer to the complete History of LFMC. At this juncture it might well be foretold that Mrs. Vought eventually became 23rd president of National Federation of Music Clubs, and was instrumental in inaugurating the new location of its headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In 1960, at the state convention, Mr. William Gillock was elected to the presidency of LFMC, a first for the organization, and reported in the Alexandria newspaper as “Male President Upsets Tradition.” Mr. Gillock, of New Orleans, was an outstanding composer, conductor, teacher, and adjudicator. It might be noted that Junior Day boasted 150 in attendance! Mr Gillock was inspired by the newly formed Gold Cup Award Plan and was the second in the nation to adopt this in Louisiana. Student composers were encouraged, and Mr. Gillock received a national award for federating the most Junior Clubs, and for growth in Junior Festivals.
In the next decade music service to hospitals flourished. Louisiana federated the only club in the world located at the Leprosarium in Carville, La.; and also another unique club located in a mental institution at CentralLouisianaHospital. This club hosted one full day of business and music at a state convention, making this the first time a state convention was held in a mental hospital.
During LFMC’s 40th year, under the presidency of Mrs. Claude Kirkpatrick of Baton Rouge, a record number of 21 delegates attended the Biennial Convention in New York City in April of 1967. On this occasion “The Musettes,” a sextet of women’s voices from Baton Rouge, sang an original composition by Gena Branscombe, “A Joyful Litany,” which was composed especially for this group, and for the New York convention. The group, as a result of their performance, was asked by the chairman of WYNC to tape a 30-minute program to be broadcast on 9 Sept., 1967. At the 1968 state convention in Shreveport, with an attendance of 200, an outstanding event was a performance by the entire cast of the New York City Opera. An interesting note: tickets were $7.50, $5.50, and $4.00! Louisiana boasted 22 National Music Week Awards in 1969, and the prominent husband and wife team of James and Jane Bastien presented a workshop at the New Orleans state convention. The year 1971 produced yet another National Biennial convention held in New Orleans, with Mrs. Vought chairman, and Mrs. Kirkpatrick co-chairman. The honored guest was Mrs. Maurice Honigman, president of NFMC. A special feature at this convention was an hour-long session presenting “Music Therapy and its Function to People.”
Looking forward, the 20th president, Mr. James E. Hudson of Jennings, fittingly chose as his theme: “Louisiana Youth, Our Musical Future.” Under his leadership the organization prospered in many ways, not the least of which was financial security and management. During this administration the Virginia H. Houssiere Ballet Scholarship was begun, and the groundwork laid for a second scholarship, The Past President’s State College Scholarship. Both scholarships have since been established, and proven successful in the intervening years. In 1987 the Young Artist and Student Auditions produced four student winners from Louisiana. In 1993 one of these, Stephen Spooner, pianist, of New Orleans became Young Artist Winner from Louisiana. At the 60th anniversary convention, held in Monroe on April 14 - 16, 1988, all current living Past State Presidents were honored at a candlelight ceremony and banquet. During his second term as president Mr. Hudson, continuing his highly successful liaison with LFMC’s Board of Directors, brought to completion the W.Carruth Jones Brevard Scholarship; the Edith K. Kirkpatrick Award fund, and the Mildred Beville State Piano Scholarship. The Stillman Kelly Auditions, held in Lafayette on 21s February, 1990 produced yet another winner for Louisiana. Pianist Hubert Ho of Baton Rouge, then continued on to become the National Winner, receiving $1,000.00. Mr. Ho followed two former winners, making a total of three consecutive winners for Louisiana.
Elected president at the Alexandria Convention was Pamela Gregoire of Donaldsonville who became the LFMC's capable and efficient leader from 1992 to 1994. During this adminstration, the new category of the Music of Poetry was begun, and the use of poetry was continually encouraged. The LFMC Benediction was set in this medium by Claire Puneky and Jeanne L. Veron of the Donaldsonville District. Marked growth in Junior Composition was an achievement during this period. Entries increased and two regional winners were Mary Leissinger of Metairie and Hubert Ho of Baton Rouge. President Gregoire attended the NFMC Southeastern Region weekend at Brevard Music Center in 1993. She presented the opening invocation which had been written by Claire Puneky especially for this occasion as an example of the Music of Poetry. Also attending were NFMC Treasurer James E. Hudson, Dixie District Coordinator Kay Hawthorne, and Life Member Virginia Houssiere. She attended the 1993 NFMC Fall Board Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. At the Forty-Seventh Biennel NFMC Convention, she was appointed member of the Elections Committee, and represented LFMC well singing in the American Festival Chorus. The VIrginia Houssiere Ballet Scholarship was awarded to Helen Daigle of Baton Rouge; The Mildred Bevill Piano Scholarship was awarded to Gwendolyn Alexander of Thibodaux in 1994, and the 1993 NFMC Education Scholarship was awarded to
Christy Warner of Baton Rouge. The project of compiling a brief history of all senior clubs was completed. A copy was forwarded to the National Historian and was commended as an example to other states. Communicating her talents of communication and and efficiency, Mrs. Gregoire served the organization well during her tenure in office. The LFMC enjoyed a smooth-running operation during a varied and changing time. At the 1994 Convention in Thibodaux, the Donaldsonville District successfully petitioned to become the Bayouland District, pointing out that it more correctly represented the entire district. Mrs. Gregoire also was responsible for establishing a pint system for judging LFMC Achievement Record Books, and served as NFMC Board Member-at-Large, NFMC Secretary and NFMC Artist Presentation Chairman for four years.
With the final decade of the 20th century at hand, LFMC undertook the revision of By-Laws, Standing Rules, and Appendix, resulting in a more up-to-date and complete document.
In 1997 New Orleans was once more the scene of a National Fall Board Meeting! It was held August 12th through 18th at the Fairmont Hotel. National Officers in attendance were: Barbara Irish, President; James Hudson, National Chairman; and Joan Morton, S.E. Regional Vice President. The state convention, held in New Orleans April 2nd through 4th, 1998, produced the 24th president of LFMC, Mrs. Melanie Perez of Metairie. As a capable and talented leader, she proved to be the ideal president to lead LFMC into the 21st Century. Following the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Federation of Music Clubs, her theme became "The Next 100 years - Energized with a New Dedication and Committment." “Noteworthy News”, the official newsletter for LFMC was designed by her, and she inaugurated it with a contest for the best entry for a title. Under her guidance, an LFMC Brochure was created, and an LFMC Web Site was created. The new Past Presidents State College Scholarship comprised of eight $500 awards, one for each LFMC district, had its inuagural year. Forty-one NFMC Awards of Merit were received by LFMC and its clubs during her term as president. Attending the Centennial Anniversary of the National Federation of Music Clubs in Chicago, Illinois along with President Melanie Perez were: Kay Hawthorne, Pamela Gregoire, and Edith Kirkpatrick. Mrs. Perez also served as NFMC Summer Music Centers Awards Chairman and NFMC Board Member Representing Louisiana.
Many accomplishments were made during the term of Mrs. Jeanne L. Veron, LFMC's 25th President. LFMC Bylaws were revised, tax-exempt status was achieved, the Charlotte Davis Parrott Religious Education Award and Virginia Houssiere Ballet Scholarship were inaugurated, and countless NFMC Awards were earned. Among Mrs. Veron's greatest accomplishments were her all out efforts to collect accurate information on all entities of LFMC and getting the LFMC Festivals Records computerized; Festivals were her top priority, and she was extremely diligent in checking and correcting Festivals Records. Hailing from Donaldsonville, Mrs. Veron capably led our state as LFMC hosted the 2001 Federation Weekend at Brevard Music School. A gala convention in Natchitoches, honoring all LFMC Past Presidents, was held as LFMC celebrated its 75th anniversary. "Sharing our Gift of Music to bring Harmony and Beauty to All" was this president's theme; America, the Beautiful was her theme song.
LFMC's 26th President, Dottie Smith of Prairieville, was installed by NFMC First Vice President Lana Bailey at the 2004 LFMC Convention, held in the Metairie District. With investments being strong, LFMC increased the amounts of the Mildred Bevill State Piano Awards, the Past Presidents State College Award, and the Edith Kirkpatrick Student Awards. The PPSCA also were changed to state-wide awards. Mrs. Smith's presidency was challenged by Hurricane Katrina, which caused devastation to members in the New Orleans Music Club and the Metairie Music Club. Mr. and Mrs. Smith ably represented LFMC at the NFMC meetings in Wilmington, South Carolina and Austin, Texas. "Music Brings Joy to All Hearts" was her theme.
LFMC's 27th President was Ruth Smith of Monroe. Her theme was "Learning from the Past - Reaching for the Future" and her Theme Song was O God, Our Help in Ages Past. LFMC Conventions were held in Lafayette, Shreveport and Natchitoches with NFMC Honored guests NFMC Recording Secretary Carole Langley, NFMC Recording Secretary Kay Hawthorne and NFMC Treasurer Barbara Hildebrand during her tenure, and she represented Louisiana at NFMC Meetings in Salt Lake City, Denver and Minneapolis. Because of the poor economy, LFMC had to reduce all of its awards at this time, but was able to begin a very popular Junior Summer Enrichment Award for Junior Members in grades 6-10. The 8 LFMC Districts and District Directors were ablolished in favor of 5 regions to host conventions. A new LFMC wesbite was begun, containing forms for all awards and festivals. LFMC was proud to have an NFMC winner for the Lucile Parrish Ward Award for Veterans, Matthew Witherow, Mrs. Smith's son-in-law.
The 21st century presents many new challenges, and many opportunities. It is hoped that new thought and inspiration will produce new directions and new energy to pursue new goals for our organization! New generations must take the helm and pilot the course, always remembering the foundation that has been laid.