Helen Dahlstrom | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Helen Dahlstrom

Helen Arline Dahlstrom (née Underbakke), teacher, pianist, organist, choir conductor (born 5 June 1917 in Regina, SK; died 25 July 2013 in Victoria, BC). ATCM 1930, L MUS (Saskatchewan) 1932.

Helen Dahlstrom studied piano 1929-35 with Cyril Hampshire at the Regina Cons; in the summer of 1935 with Stephen Balogh at the Cornish School, Seattle; and privately 1944-6 with Leonard Heaton in Winnipeg and later with Boris Roubakine in Calgary. At 16, she played the Schumann Concerto with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. She was accompanist for John Goss on a tour in 1940 of western Canada and was heard frequently 1940-3 as a soloist on radio station CJRM, Regina. She lived 1945-7 in Winnipeg, where she often played on CBC radio. Moving to Rossland, BC, she served 1950-64 as organist-choirmaster at St Andrew's United Church and became conductor of the A Cappella Singers in 1964. She led that group in various southeast British Columbia centres for over 10 years. Over the years, she accompanied many distinguished instrumentalists in recital, including Elfreda Gleam (1965) and Reginald Kell (1969). Dahlstrom, who began teaching piano and theory in 1929, was president 1970-1 of the BCRMTA and 1971-5 of the CFMTA, and was an examiner 1984-9 for the RCMT. In 1971 she became national chair of Canada Music Week and editor of its newsletter, and in 1985 she edited the Canada Music Week Silver Anniversary Collection of Canadian Music (Waterloo 1985). Under the sponsorship of the CFMTA, she compiled Canadian Composers Mini Biographies (2nd edn 1989), a biographical list of Canadian composers whose music appears on the RCMT, WBM and WOCM syllabi. Dahlstrom adjudicated at competitions across North America, including the Young Keyboard Artists Association international piano competitions at Ann Arbor, Mich (1985) and Orange County, Cal (1989).