- The society originates in the early 1960’s as a 26-member music ensemble with Leonard Whiteley as the band’s conductor. Original band member, Bill MacKay secures donated music equipment from a local service organization, the Cosmopolitan Club. The Club, with Ben Banks (father of Senator Tommy Banks) as treasurer, also supports the “Cosmopolitan Club Band” financially.
- When Whiteley retires in 1964, fellow trumpeter, friend, and Canadian Armed Forces band mate, Harry Pinchin is appointed conductor. Pinchin was not unknown to the band, having worked with the band when Whiteley had professional performance conflicts. The Cosmopolitan Club Band soon doubles in size and begins a “junior” band.
- In 1967, the Cosmopolitan Club supports Pinchin’s proposal to develop a full-fledged youth and amateur adult instrumental music program. The program, unique in Canada, appoints Pinchin as Music Director and Program Administrator. The same year, the program’s band wins first place in a national band competition sponsored by the Canadian Centennial Commission.
- By the early 1970’s, the program boasts 400 members, four concert bands (Red, Gold, Blue and Green), two jazz bands (A and B), a new string program, a jazz dance program, and a marching band. The bands continue to win competitions nationally and internationally. Rehearsals take place in school gyms until the Cosmopolitan Club purchases the Church of the Nazarene off 109 Street.
- During the 1970’s, public schools begin to introduce student bands, and the Cosmopolitan Music Program becomes an adult amateur program. Membership declines with the loss of youth participants. The Cosmopolitan Club decides to accept an offer for the 109 street building.
- In the late 1970’s, Pinchin rebuilds the program’s membership with the popular Adult Beginner Band. In 1979, the program leases what was once an auto-body shop in Old Strathcona.
- The Adult Beginner Band grows into three bands, and the Cosmopolitan Chorus starts in 1985. The same year, with the encouragement of the Cosmopolitan Club, the Music Program goes out on its own and forms the Cosmopolitan Music Society. Society members make up the board of directors.
- In 1987, with money gained from fundraising initiatives and a CRC Capital grant, the Society launches a massive renovation project on its home in Old Strathcona.
- In January 2007, Harry Pinchin retires after over 40 years of dedicated service to Cosmopolitan Music and the arts community of Edmonton. Garry Silverman is appointed the new Music Director of Cosmopolitan Music Society.
- In 2008 Cosmopolitan Music Society became an anchor tenant of the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre. A a major renovation to the stage area of the building is undertaken and a flat stage with hardwood flooring is added as a show case to the building.
- In 2011, members of the Cosmopolitan Music Society enjoy a successful tour to Europe in the summer.
- In 2013, Cosmopolitan Music Society celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season
- In 2014, Cosmo bids Garry Silverman a fond farewell on his retirement. Taina Lorenz is appointed the new Music Director of Cosmopolitan Music Society.
Today, CMS remains in one of the most splendid community music centres in Canada, the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre which houses two music studios, recording facilities, administration offices, a theatrical “green” room, a kitchen, and a members’ lounge. Over 275 CMS members as well as various community groups enjoy the space.
Each music group participates in concerts at Christmas, a CMS Spring Series featuring the separate ensembles at in-house concerts and a season finale at the Winspear Centre. CMS produces and its members perform in, “Lest We Forget: A Musical Tribute” under the auspices of the Royal Canadian Legion each November at the Winspear Centre. The CMS Summer Band, made up of musicians from across the bands, performs for the public on Canada Day. CMS bands and chorus are also open to opportunities to perform at community events as they arise and tours are always a possibility.