WE ARE PROBABLY the oldest music club in the county,” declares Ruth Koenig, a violinist and current president of the Thursday Musical Club. This group of music appreciators first began meeting, she says, in 1918, in the Newhall Mansion, the residence of prominent San Rafael businessman Almer Mayo Newhall and his wife, Anna Scott Newhall. The concept, repeated at the time in several West Coast cities, was to have members perform for one another and their friends. “The mansion’s large stairway landing accommodated a grand piano,” Koenig says. “It was an ideal stage for musicians to perform.” In 1930, the Newhalls moved to San Francisco, and over the years the Thursday Musical Club gradually made adjustments to changing times. Members were no longer the only ones performing; talented area musicians slowly took over that role. And church halls and retirement homes eventually replaced members’ homes as monthly gathering spots. Lately, another tradition is being gently challenged: the practice
of listing past presidents in the programs by the husband’s first and last name, with the wife’s name in parentheses, trailing behind. As for the club’s most pronounced change: at its 1918 inception, dues were $1 a year and 25 cents for guests; now it’s $100 a year for a membership and $20 per event for guests. “However, please make note that one feature of the club has not changed in 100 years,” Koenig insists. “We still serve afternoon tea after every performance.” Performances scheduled for 2018 include cellist Margaret Moores at the Tiburon Baptist Church on March 15, harpist Dan Levitan at Aegis Living in Corte Madera on April 19, and the duo of vocalist Wendy Loder and David Mioke on piano and violin at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae on May 10. At each event, musicians share background information on their instruments and the music they’re about to play.
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Tea and Symphonies.”