The Gift of New Members at Heliconian Club

Earlier this Fall, we welcomed 27 new members at the President’s Reception at the first event of the year. Since then, many of these new members have contributed to life to our Club, adding fresh ideas and perspective to our ever growing club. We are  thankful for their participation, and can’t wait to show them off as fellow Heliconians. Below are a few highlights of these women based on submitted bios.

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Member’s Concert: Amanda Johnston in Recital, Nov 23

This Friday, Allison Arends (soprano), Katarzyna Sadej (mezzo soprano) and Heliconian Amanda Johnston will be presenting an exciting programme featuring song cycles by De Falla and Liszt, duets by Chausson, Debussy, and Brahms, and operatic highlights by Handel, Donizetti, Bellini, and Stravinsky. This is a programme that is sure to enlighten, uplift, and entertain.

It will take place on Friday, November 23rd at 8pm at Heliconian Hall (35 Hazelton Avenue, in the heart of Yorkville). Tickets are $20 and are available at the door.

Centennial Portraits Exhibition & Book Launch: Nov 16

Centennial Portraits
Exhibition & Book Launch
Friday, November 16, 2012
6:00pm to 8.30pm

Leaders and members from our community and throughout the city will be attending an art reception of Mary Perdue’s portraits, and a public book launch event for “Centennial Portraits”. Heliconians will also be there to represent our club that evening.

The evening will feature showcase performances. Keiko Kitano will dance with Alison Melville flute and recorder; Ann Elizabeth Carson will read her poetry accompanied by Margaret Lam on Piano; Laura Newland will share a story with her puppets and Barbara Fris will sing with Jane Blackstone accompanying. Pianist Dorothy Deval and Violinist/Violist Emma Vachon-Twney will also be playing music throughout the evening.

Please RSVP by November 9, 2012 by calling 416 922-3618 or email us at

Pre-Order Centennial Portraits before the November Launch

We have been hard at work this summer to design and produce Centennial Portraits, an art book by Mary Perdue, featuring images of Heliconian Club members as the Club celebrated its 100th anniversary. In addition to being a great piece of memorabilia for members, this book also makes an excellent gift item as the book captures the Club’s historical significance for Toronto and Canada. In collaboration with designer Margaret Lam, we are busy working on the book this summer with plans to have a public book launch on November 16th, 2012. A special club night on November 9th is also slated to celebrate the book launch.

We are currently accepting pre-orders for this historic book, as this may be the only time that this book will go into print. Furthermore, your pre-orders will also go a long way in allowing us to increase the quantities in this first run.

You can pre-order your books by sending in a cheque for 50% of the order (each book is $40) by Friday, September 7th, making it payable to “Toronto Heliconian Club” with “Centennial Portraits” in the memo. The balance will be due when you pick up the book at the book launch in November.

For more information, please contact us at or call 416-922-3618.

Ensemble Polaris: June 1

On Friday June 1 at 8 pm, Canada’s favourite ‘Arctic Fusion’ band Ensemble Polaris presents GAME ON!, featuring fellow Heliconians Alison Melville and Margaret Gay. They are presenting a new program of traditional Canadian and northern European songs and dance tunes on the themes of sport and games of skill and chance right here at the Heliconian Hall.

Material for this show will include a medieval Norwegian regatta song, Faroese and Swedish songs and tunes from childrens’ games, and musical tributes to sports icons from Canada and beyond. Since the timing of this show coincides with the final stretch of the Stanley Cup extravaganza (and remembering that many hockey pros hail from Canada and Scandinavia), the program also includes John Playford’s ‘Crosby Square,’ our unique rendition of ‘Clear the Track, Here Comes Shack,’ tunes written for Wayne Gretzky and Norwegian curler Dordy Nordby, a tango for Alexander Ovechkin, and more.

We’re also delighted to welcome our singer/nyckelharpist Katherine Hill back to the Polaris fold, after her year away at the Erik Sahlström Institute in Tobo, Sweden, where she immersed herself in Swedish traditional music with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts. Her tunes for Game On! include a song about a contest between water sprites and human beings.

Refreshments will be available during the performance and, in keeping with the idea of unexpected results, small door prizes will be given out at various points during the show. It’s guaranteed to be a great evening of good music, whether or not you’re any kind of athlete at all, so come join the fun! Tickets are $22, $15 for student and senior, $10 for children.

Elizabeth Mittler: 1909-2012

With the death of Elizabeth Mittler on March 12, the Heliconian Club has lost another of its Honorary Life Members and a staunch supporter of the Club for many years. A member of the Music Section, Elizabeth was a violinist who took part in many Heliconian musical groups as well as helping with memorable Christmas dinners. Doreen Hall recalls Elizabeth helping cook turkeys in the years when the Club didn’t rely on caterers. Elizabeth played professionally with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Current Heliconians know Elizabeth best as the author of The Krupp Secret, a moving memoir of her departure from her native Holland in May, 1940, her sojourn in France and her escape to Spain just steps ahead of the Nazi invasion of both countries. She and her fiancé, Nicholas Mittler (who survives her) were married in France, subsequently fled to Spain and eventually made their way to Canada. While enduring the many hardships of life in wartime France, the book makes it clear that Elizabeth never lost her indomitable spirit and her love of humanity, art and the natural world.

(Submitted by Margaret Weiers)

World Premiere of Jana Skarecky’s Back to Babylon: May 27

Dunedin Railway Station in New Zealand

The world premiere of Back to Babylon by Heliconian Jana Skarecky featuring text by Viggo Mortensen will be performed (abridged version) at the Dunedin Railway Station in New Zealand by The Cantores Choir under the direction of Gregory Peyroux on Sunday, May 27, 2012, 3:30 p.m. This concert is a part of the “Song, Dance & Earth” concert. Congratulations Jana!

Peggy Mahon in 5th Annual Interval House Benefit Concert: May 17

At this 5th annual Interval House Benefit concert, we want to honour those who seek sanctuary from domestic violence at Canada’s first shelter for women and their children. Performed at the historic Heliconian club, we will also be celebrating the women who defied the odds, almost 100 years ago, and founded the Heliconian Club for women in the arts.

We hope you can join us this year! This is always a fabulous concert featuring Peggy Mahon‘s jazz quartet with Danny McErlain on Piano, Dave Field on Bass and Don Vickery on drums. Please stay for the reception following the show for some refreshments, and meet Peggy, her band mates, and all the hard working folks at Interval House.

Concert is on May 17th at 7:30pm, Heliconian Hall. Advanced tickets for $30 can be ordered by calling 416-698-2163.