Peacefully at St. Michaels Hospital on Friday, February 17, 2006, Pearl Palmason died at the age of 90. Beloved daughter of Sveinn and Growa Palmason, Pearl was predeceased by both her parents, her brothers Palmi and Steve and her sister Ruby. Pearl is survived by two nephews Arthur Dawson (Sieglinde) and Gerry Dawson (Diane) and her niece Valerie Thompson (Marcel). She is also survived by her cousin Erla MacAuley and second cousins Lois and Douglas MacAuley.
Pearl was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and spent most of her childhood in Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba.
Pearl was an exceptionally talented violinist, the winner as a young woman of many awards and scholarships. She studied under the renowned Carl Flesch in London England and D. E. Dounis in New York City. Pearl, having had the honor of playing her Town Hall Debut in 1947 gave up a concert career in order to devote her talent to The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, eventually becoming the Assistant Concert Master and, at times, the Acting Concert Master of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Pearl paved the way for fellow women musicians by becoming the first woman to perform with the Toronto Symphony. With both the Toronto Symphony and the Hart House Orchestra, Pearl had the opportunities to travel the World and have many adventures, and in addition to play solo concerts in other parts of the world. She also formed her own string ensemble called The Perla Quartet. Pearl was devoted to the violin and was a very disciplined professional, who, because of her insistence on quality and her natural talent earned great recognition throughout her career. She also took on the job of teaching and coaching young violinists, many of whom attribute their success on the experience of having the opportunity to be taught by Pearl.
On August 9, 1981, The Toronto Star recorded Pearl’s retirement after forty years with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. "Pearl Palmason received a standing ovation from the 10,000 strong audience when she gave her final performance with the symphony. It signaled the end of a lifetime of rigorous work and travel schedules as a member of the orchestra”. Upon her retirement, Pearl continued to play with the Toronto Opera Company, and this was followed by a period, serving as the Concert Master of the Oakville Symphony. Pearl continued to practice and play her beloved violin until her recent illness in September of 2005. A documentary of Pearl’s life called "A Passion for the Fiddle” produced by Chris Ban has been shown frequently on the Bravo TV Channel. Although her violin was her first passion, her second passion was to develop and enjoy many enduring friendships. Because of her generosity and kindness, she became a very significant person in the lives of many people. She had the unusual capacity to become much beloved by just about every person she met.
About eight years ago, Pearl gave up and sold her home moving to a lovely condominium at The Ports, 1177 Yonge Street. This move proved to be mutually positive for both Pearl and her fellow residents at The Ports Condominium. While living there Pearl gave two concerts, at the behest of all her friends. As Pearl would say her guardian angels were once again looking out for her best interest, in so far as this new home provided both Pearl and many of her fellow residents a mutually positive and nurturing environment.
The family would like to thank Pearl’s many friends for their help and support during the course of the past six months which were very trying ones for Pearl, her family, her friends, her caregivers, and her fellow residents of The Ports.
Pearl was also a member of The Toronto Haliconian Club, a club for women artists, for over forty years, and served a term as the President of The Toronto Haliconian Club. If desired, Pearl’s family would like those who wish to do so, to make donations in Pearl’s memory to The Toronto Haliconian Club, 35 Hazelton Avenue, Toronto, ON M5R 2E3.
The family will receive friends at the HUMPHREY FUNERAL HOME - A.W. MILES CHAPEL, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Eglinton Avenue East), from 7-9pm on Tuesday, February 21. Funeral Services will be held at 2pm on Wednesday February 22, in the Chapel, with a reception to follow. Interment at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
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