The Fresno Musical Club was founded in 1905 by mezzo soprano Bell T. Ritchie as a not-for-profit women’s organization of professional musicians eager for an opportunity to share their talents. It is surely one of Fresno’s longest running clubs, as 117 years later, we still meet and perform for each other from September to June!
From 1908 through 1980 the Fresno Musical Club sponsored a series of concerts which brought to Fresno a brilliant array of world-famous artists. The venues for these concerts included the Barton Opera House, Warnor’s Theater, and the Fresno Convention Center Theater. The frequently sold-out concerts were managed solely by FMC members who volunteered to book artists, engage venues, handle ticket sales, coordinate travel schedules and manage hosting responsibilities.
These world-class public concerts featured such noted artists as Artur Rubenstein, Marion Anderson, Leontyne Price, Jascha Heifetz, the Julliard String Quartet, and jazz great, Dave Brubeck. Orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were featured as well as the Joffrey Ballet Company, the Metropolitan Opera National Company and many other groups.
Concerts continued through two world wars and the depression of the 1930s.FMC has carefully stored and archived records of these events. Other FMC projects, such as the monumental 1965 fundraisers chaired by Linda Sue Thomas to enhance the Convention Center Theater, are also archived, as well as past honors such as a Special Horizon Award and information about “Fresno Musical Club Day” as proclaimed by Mayor Autry!
Many of our current members enjoy careers as professional performers with the Fresno Philharmonic and as faculty members at Fresno City College, California State University, Fresno, and Fresno Pacific University. In the mid-1980s a proposal to allow men to join FMC provoked a very lively discussion that resulted in many talented and accomplished men becoming members.
FMC now maintains an active scholarship program as our primary focus.