Strings/Harp/Guitar > Kathleen and Mary Tierney
Kathleen and Mary Tierney were sisters who grew up in Calgary and who fell in love with the violin at a young age. While growing up, they performed at numerous concerts and festivals around Calgary and were known to be among the city's leading violinists.
At the age of 17, Kathleen won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, winning a silver medal at the end of her first study period there. She returned to Calgary in 1934, opened a studio and taught music until 1938 when she returned to London to further her music career. She was awarded the LRAM (licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music).
In 1939, Mary won a scholarship to the Royal Academy in London, joining Kathleen there. A pupil of Arthur Catterall, Mary was recognized as a gifted pupil, and together with her friend, Jean Gilbert, Mary won the Marguerite Elzey Withers Memorial Prize.
While Mary returned to Calgary in 1940, Kathleen remained in London throughout the War and played in the famous Myra Hess lunchtime concerts. In London, Kathleen met and married John Fisher, conductor of the Saddlers' Wells Orchestra. She and John toured Europe after the War, and later joined the Philharmonia Orchestra and was with them in residence at the Lucerne music festival in 1954. While in London, Kathleen acquired the two violins: the Alessandro Gagliano (Naples circa 1700-1702) and the Ferdinand Gagliano (Naples circa 1770). Kathleen passed the violins onto Mary. Kathleen died in 1956, leaving two young children.
In 1944, Mary moved from Calgary to Vancouver, and joined the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) in 1944. Mary played with the VSO for 45 years, retiring in 1989.
Mary died in 2007. Before she passed away, Mary bequeathed the violins to the Music Department of UBC, with the expressed wish that students use these instruments in their study to prepare for recitals. She hoped that the love that she and Kathleen had for music would inspire students to play with passion and dedication for years to come.