Orchestras | The Canadian Encyclopedia



In the 20th century, Canadian classical musical life centred around permanent professional ensembles whose most prominent members were chamber and symphony orchestras. However, until the late 19th century orchestras in Canada were subordinate to theatres and choral societies.
Edmonton Philharmonic Orchestra
The Edmonton Philharmonic Orchestra in 2004 (courtesy Edmonton Philharmonic Orchestra).


In the 20th century, Canadian classical musical life centred around permanent professional ensembles whose most prominent members were chamber and symphony orchestras. However, until the late 19th century orchestras in Canada were subordinate to theatres and choral societies. These tended to be put together from whatever players were available, to assist with incidental music for plays, to accompany oratorios or cantatas, or just to contribute an overture, a symphonic movement, or an aria accompaniment to the typical "Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Music" of the day. Such orchestras were essentially military bands augmented with strings for a particular occasion. Sometimes requests had to be sent to Boston, Buffalo, or some other US city for an essential player who could not be found or "tolerated in substitution" by someone on another instrument. Though few documentary records survive, it is quite possible that any orchestra assembled before the late 19th century did not have a full complement of musicians and may have had to play parts on instruments other than those identified in the score.

Early Logistical Challenges
Several factors contributed to the slower development of orchestral tradition in 18th-century Canada as compared to the US. There were significant logistical challenges, not the least of which was the lack of high-level music teachers and the scarcity of instruments. Though such early teachers and entrepreneurs as Frederick Glackemeyer (violinist, teacher, composer, b Hanover, Germany, 1751, d Quebec City 1836) and Jonathan Sewell (lawyer, violinist, b New England 1766, d Lower Canada 1839) began addressing these issues in the late 18th century, their task was complicated by the relative lack of printed music available in Canada at that time - music was passed from teacher to pupil by hand-copying - and by the lack of suitable venues, the first theatres being built in Halifax only in 1789 and in Montreal not before 1804. There were also cultural difficulties surrounding the propagation of music since men, at the time, were discouraged from learning music and women were discouraged from performing it in public.

Early Performances, 1760s-late 1800s
One of the earliest references to an orchestral performance mentioned a 1769 concert at St. Paul's Church in Halifax, put on by the Philharmonic Society and featuring an undisclosed oratorio. In Quebec City ca 1790-1800 there were subscription concerts at which symphonies or concertos by J.C. Bach, Haydn, Pleyel, and Mozart were played. In several instances large orchestras were assembled: "A Grand Performance of Sacred Music," 26 Jun 1834 under Stephen Codman, boasted more than 60 players - 22 violins, four violas, six cellos, one double bass, eight flutes, four clarinets, four bassoons, four french horns, four trumpets, one trombone, a serpent, a tuba, and two "double drums"; and in 1860, R.J. Fowler led the Montreal Musical Union in a marathon five-hour concert in honour of the Prince of Wales. But these large orchestras were not typical and certainly were not sustained.

Some ensembles did last, however, such as the curious - if isolated - case of the Children of Peace band in Sharon (then Hope), Ontario, which was active 1820-80s and acted as a band, a brass band, and an orchestra during its existence. Most orchestral ensembles, however, were constituted for limited engagements until the late 19th century, when Charles and Benjamin Sauvageau's orchestra in Quebec (1840s), . F.H. Torrington's orchestras in Montreal in 1868 and Toronto after 1877, Guillaume Couture's Montreal Société des Symphonistes (1878), the Victoria Amateur Orchestral Society (1880s), and Winnipeg's Apollo Club (1880s) were among the first groups to maintain a consistent presence, if not consistent results, owing to the still mainly amateur nature of the musicians.

First Orchestras in Quebec and Nova Scotia
It was not until Ernest Lavigne returned from Europe (where he had been principal cornet with the Roman Zouaves) and established bands in Quebec City and later in Montreal that disciplined instrumental ensembles emerged. Encouraged by the success of the Bande de la Cité, which gave its first concerts in the mid-1870s, Lavigne formed an orchestra, tempting a number of musicians from Belgium with the prospect of work in the summer at the new Sohmer Park (opened 1889) and in the winter at a conservatory that was being planned. Though the conservatory did not materialize and some of the Belgians returned to their homeland, a good number stayed, among them the Goulet brothers, J.-J. and Jean (J.-J. had been the concertmaster of Lavigne's orchestra). After the demise of a significant but short-lived Montreal Symphony Orchestra formed by Guillaume Couture in 1894, J.-J. Goulet established from the remnants a second Montreal Symphony Orchestra, which made its debut in the 1897-8 season and flourished thereafter for 20 years.

In 1897 Max Weil, a Leipzig-trained US musician who had joined the Halifax Conservatory in 1893, led a Halifax Symphony Orchestra in works of his own and in Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. The orchestra survived several seasons.

In 1903 in Quebec City Joseph Vézina established the Société symphonique de Québec with players from the remarkable Septuor Haydn as a nucleus. This proved to be the most durable of Canada's early orchestras, continuing under Vézina's direction until his death in 1924 and gradually being transformed into the major orchestra known as the Quebec Symphony Orchestra.

First Orchestras in Ontario
A string orchestra formed in Ottawa under Donald Heins became the first Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and survived about 20 years.

In 1906 at the Toronto Conservatory of MusicFrank Welsman assembled an orchestra that, two years later, became the first Toronto Symphony Orchestra to perform regularly for as long as 10 years; it lasted until 1918 and gave some 18 concerts each season, many with substantial programs that included complete symphonies. By 1914 it had performed Beethoven's third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth symphonies, Tchaikovsky's fourth, fifth, and sixth, Schubert's "Unfinished," Mendelssohn's "Scottish," and Dvořák's "New World."

First Orchestras in Western Canada
Around the turn of the 20th century several western cities established amateur orchestras: a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in 1897 conducted by Adolf Green; a Winnipeg Orchestral Society under Alexander Scott and a later one in that city under Gustav Stephan; and others, in Regina under Frank Laubach, in Edmonton under Vernon Barford, and in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. Max Weil, who had made such an impression in Halifax, formed an orchestra in Calgary in 1913, importing some professional players from the US, and the concerts were said to be of fine quality, but the costs were too high for the Calgary of that day, and the orchestra did not last out the war years.

Growth 1918-80
World War I, indeed, interrupted the evolution of Canada's orchestras in every city save Ottawa and Quebec. At this point, however, population growth, infrastructure, and technology had developed to the point of overcoming the logistical and social difficulties that had hitherto stymied the growth of Canada's orchestras. There came 1918-80 a period of both unprecedented expansion for Canadian orchestras and a concomitant increase in the skill of these ensembles.

Founding of Professional Orchestras
Stable professional orchestras were founded in three waves, starting between world wars with the establishment of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (founded as the Société des concerts symphoniques de Montréal), the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, and Orchestra London Canada (founded as the London Civic Symphony Orchestra). These orchestras became the first in Canada to remain stable for decades; all but the CBC Vancouver Orchestra were active as of 2009. Their stability and longevity allowed these professional orchestras to raise the profile of Canadian musicians and to encourage a flourishing of Canadian musical talent in their respective cities. Other orchestras that did not survive the mid-century were active in Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, among others.

In the years immediately following World War II, a second wave of stable institutions passed through Canada's medium-sized urban centres resulting in the founding of the Winnipeg Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Edmonton Symphony, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Halifax Symphony (later the Symphony Nova Scotia), and the Windsor Symphony orchestras.

Following the creation of federal and provincial arts councils in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a third wave of mostly smaller professional orchestras were founded from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. These ensembles, having fewer musicians, usually shared a market with an established symphony orchestra and thus tended to focus on more specialized repertoires. They included the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Thirteen Strings, Tafelmusik, Symphony Nova Scotia, Les Violons du Roy, and the Esprit Orchestra. After the 1980s, the number of ensembles being founded diminished but these groups maintained their orientation towards focussed repertoires. These included the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (Véronique Lacroix, 1987), the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (Lorraine Vaillancourt, 1989), and the Turning Point Ensemble (Owen Underhill, 2002). In 2008, the CBC Vancouver Orchestra was disbanded but was re-formed under conductor Alain Trudel as the National Broadcast Orchestra.

World-Class Ensembles
This period of unprecedented growth for Canadian orchestras resulted in the achievement of world-class musical standards by several of the most prominent ensembles. Of these, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra came to be recognized as the premiere large orchestra in Canada, and is often cited as one of the ten best in North America. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and National Arts Centre Orchestra have forged strong international reputations as well, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra has managed to sustain one of the most successful new music festivals in the world. Smaller-market orchestras have also managed to carve distinctive places for themselves in the musical landscape with innovative activities such as the Windsor Canadian Music Festival (organized around the Windsor Symphony), the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne Forum, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal's Generations project, and the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound (organized around the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony).

Modern Challenges
In spite of the high quality attained by Canadian orchestras, signs of strain began to show in the late 1980s when the Vancouver Symphony became the first major orchestra in Canada to encounter severe budgetary difficulties. Almost all the other major symphony orchestras in Canada had similar financial troubles at various points in the 1990s and early 2000s. Some, such as the Hamilton Philharmonic, filed for bankruptcy and had to be re-structured, while others ended up in labour disputes.

Despite even these problems, the quality level of each orchestra in Canada has been maintained if not improved since the 1980s. At the end of the first decade of the 2000s, most major orchestras in Canada had stabilized their financial situations and several ran budgetary surpluses. While certainly many challenges still face Canadian orchestras, these are being met by innovative programming, new technology, and the senses of dedication and purpose that have, since these ensembles' beginnings, driven them to endure. For further details on individual orchestras, click the links in the lists that follow:

Professional Large-Market Orchestras
For details on professional, large-market orchestras playing in the early 2000s and regarded as major at that time, see the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada articles on the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra (founded 1923 as the New Symphony Orchestra), Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (founded 1933 under Allard de Ridder), Montreal Symphony Orchestra (founded 1934 as Concerts symphoniques de Montréal; first regular conductor, Wilfrid Pelletier), Orchestra London Canada (founded 1937 as London Civic Symphony Orchestra under Bruce Sharpe), Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (founded 1948 under Walter Kaufmann), Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (founded 1949 under Jan Wolanek), Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (founded 1952 under Lee Hepner), Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (founded 1955 under Henry Plukker), National Arts Centre Orchestra (founded 1969 under Mario Bernardi), and Symphony Nova Scotia (founded 1983 under Boris Brott).

Large Community Orchestras
For large community orchestras, some with fully professional status, active at least to the early 2000s, see Regina Symphony Orchestra (founded 1927), Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (founded 1931), Victoria Symphony (founded 1941), Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra (founded 1945), Windsor Symphony Orchestra (founded 1947), Niagara Symphony (founded 1948 as the St Catharines Symphony Orchestra), Kingston Symphony (founded 1954), Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra (founded 1960 as the Lakehead Symphony Orchestra), Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra (founded 1962 as the St. John's Orchestra), and the Orchestre métropolitain (founded 1981).

Chamber Orchestras
For chamber orchestras, see McGill Chamber Orchestra (founded by Alexander Brott in 1939 as the McGill String Quartet), Chamber Players of Toronto (first concerts 1969 under Victor Martin), the Orchestre de chambre Pierre-Morin (founded 1970 by Morin), Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (founded 1972 under Ruben Gurevich), New Chamber Orchestra of Canada (founded 1973, described in the entry on its founder, Bill Phillips), Thirteen Strings (founded 1975 under Brian Law), Tafelmusik (founded 1978), Esprit Orchestra (founded 1983 by Alex Pauk), and the Amadeus Ensemble, I Musici de Montréal, and National Chamber Orchestra of Canada, all three founded in 1984.

Radio Orchestras
For radio orchestras, see CBC Vancouver (Chamber) Orchestra (founded 1938 under John Avison), CBC Winnipeg Orchestra (established 1947 under Eric Wild), CBC Quebec Chamber Orchestra (founded 1954 under Sylvio Lacharité), and CJRT Orchestra (founded 1975 under Paul Robinson). In 2009, only the National Broadcast Orchestra (founded 2008 by Alain Trudel) was still active.

Defunct Orchestras
For significant orchestras that did not reach or did not survive the 1980s, see Calgary Symphony Orchestras (four successive organizations, the first founded 1910), Montreal Orchestra (1930-41 under Douglas Clarke), Promenade Symphony Concerts (Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, 1934-56 under Reginald Stewart), Montreal Women's Symphony Orchestra (1940-late 1960s under Ethel Stark), Little Symphony of Montreal (1942-52 under Bernard Naylor and others), Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra (1944-60, founded by Allard de Ridder), "The Little Symphonies" (CBC radio-program orchestra which flourished 1948-65 in Montreal under Roland Leduc), Halifax Symphony Orchestra (1949-68, founded as an opera orchestra under Alfred Strombergs), CBC Symphony Orchestra (1952-64 under Geoffrey Waddington), Heinz Unger (York Concert Society, 1952-6), Hart House Orchestra (1954-71 under Boyd Neel), New Brunswick Symphony Orchestra (1962-7 under Janis Kalnins), and Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (active 1968-82).

For other articles in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada related to orchestras and orchestra performance see Bands; Broadcasting; Concert halls and opera houses; Concerts; Conductors and conducting; Youth orchestras.

Kallmann, Helmut. A History of Music in Canada 1534-1914 (Toronto 1960)

Revised: Evan Ware

Support Systems

Despite the obvious differences in budget and station, virtually all Canadian symphony and chamber orchestras, major or community, full-time or part-time, high-budget or low-budget, have depended on the same support systems. The largest major orchestras and the smallest community orchestras have assembled volunteer boards of directors who undertake responsibility for raising the necessary money for their operations, for appointing and supporting their conductors, and for appointing and supporting paid or volunteer administrative staff. In the smaller orchestras, the volunteer boards often are themselves the administrative staff and find themselves directly involved in ticket campaigns, arranging for halls and performance rights, preparing applications for grants, organizing publicity, printing programs, and even writing program notes. Behind the scenes of any symphony concert, however modest, exists an elaborate network of exacting tasks undreamed of by the audience member who merely buys a ticket and listens to the concert. Behind the activities of a major orchestra lie thousands of hours of volunteer and paid time by a bewildering profusion of administrators and committees.

The most intensive and unremitting effort of the orchestra board and its committees is, of necessity, fund raising. Canada by 1991 still had neither condoned full state subsidy of orchestras in the European tradition nor marshalled the enormous private subsidies that created and have sustained the orchestras of the USA. Instead, it evolved a system under which, in the 1990s, the orchestras were expected to take in at the box office about 50 per cent of the money they needed, and to raise from private donations and corporate donations about 25 per cent more. The remaining 25 per cent could be requested from some combination of what usually are described as 'the three levels of government, civic, provincial, and federal,' though in fact at the federal level the source of grants has been not a department of the federal government but an independent crown corporation, the Canada Council, consisting of a paid staff of administrators and a council of volunteer citizens appointed to decide on grants. Some of Canada's provincial arts-support bodies have existed similarly detached from government itself. Traditionally the Canada Council has provided operating grants to only the major orchestras (excluding the NACO, which is alone among Canadian orchestras in being funded directly by the federal government itself), to a very few of the largest community orchestras and successful chamber orchestras (in the latter half of the 1970s the Kitchener-Waterloo SO, the Ottawa SO, the Regina SO, the Saskatoon SO, the Thunder Bay SO, the Victoria SO, the McGill Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Players of Toronto), and to smaller community orchestras for special projects. The several provincial departments of culture and arts councils have provided subsidies for small community orchestras as well as the major ones in their jurisdictions. City governments generally have been less consistent, some providing regular grants and some providing none. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s all 'government' grants had in common that they must be applied for and justified annually and were considered only in relation to healthy box-office receipts and vigorous fund raising from the private sector. In addition to standard procedures for fund raising, many orchestras have resorted to unusual and imaginative means, particularly through their volunteer women's committees who, over the years, have raised astonishing amounts through rummage sales, dream auctions, fashion shows, book sales, the operating of second-hand stores, and countless other projects and stratagems. Through conferences, workshops, and publications the orchestral federations ACO and OFSO - Canada's equivalent to the USA's American Symphony Orchestra League - have devoted themselves largely to pooling experience and solving problems directly related to orchestra support systems. An association of Alberta orchestras was being formed in 1991 to similarly share experience in all aspects of orchestral operations and to become an advocate for community orchestras in that province.

The recessionary economy of the early 1980s and the early 1990s exposed the precarious financial state of most of Canada's professional orchestras and threatened the very existence of some. Community orchestras, with their largely amateur membership, were less affected. Among the most visible casualties were the Atlantic SO and the Vancouver SO; as the first major orchestra in Canada in recent decades to declare bankruptcy, the Atlantic SO's demise was perhaps the most widely noted. Other orchestras that experienced serious financial problems, which sometimes led to labour disputes with musicians, were the Hamilton Philharmonic, the NACO, and the Quebec, Thunder Bay, and Windsor SOs. Almost all of Canada's major orchestras operated with deficits in 1991; among deficit-free orchestras were the Victoria and Winnipeg SOs.

Players, Player Training, Player Protection

The number of indigenously trained career orchestral musicians has increased with the number of orchestras able to offer annual contracts or even uncontracted regular paid work, but in at least the area of string playing the number has not increased apace. Report upon report has deplored the apparent impossibility of populating the string sections of the country's best orchestras with Canadian-trained violinists, violists, and cellists of international standard, and the necessity of importing players year after year. Though there have been remarkable individual teachers with remarkable individual pupils, and some with several, there has been no national system for the discovery, segregation, and fine training of orchestral musicians comparable, for instance, to the system epitomized by that in effect at the USA's Curtis Institute (where a gifted child is admitted as young as possible and trained completely, as an absolute educational priority, and free of charge, to play his instrument with the aim of becoming a professional orchestral musician at a high level), and to such systems in both the east and west of Europe. By 1991, however, a number of positive steps had been taken towards the more serious and systematic professional education of musicians in general and orchestral musicians in particular. Practical orchestrally oriented string training programs were receiving new emphasis across the country - at the Vancouver Academy of Music, at the University of Alberta and in the advanced training courses at the Banff CA, at Brandon University, at the University of Toronto and the RCMT, at the Écoles Sacré-Coeur et Mitchell de Sherbrooke, and at Laval University. At the same time, school, youth, and training orchestras had proliferated, many of them adjuncts of the major orchestras and the large community orchestras, and staffed by instructors who also were leading players in those orchestras. By 1991 also, the NYO - the noted summer school for gifted young instrumentalists - had been in existence for 31 years and had done much to refine the thinking of music educators on the subject of instrumental training priorities. Based in Montreal 1977-91, the OJQ provided young professional musicians with training and employment. The Classical Orchestra Academy at the Boris Brott Summer Music Festival in Hamilton began a mid-sized training orchestra for young players in 1990.

On another front, the musicians' union (American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada - see Unions) played a significant role in stabilizing the player's economic environment by establishing fee parameters and professional rules. In 1975, AF of M members of Canadian orchestras formed their own professional association, the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians/Organisation des musiciens d'orchestres symphoniques du Canada.

In an attempt to develop music in smaller urban centres, the OAC has offered programs to subsidize musicians' salaries. One program, the Core Players-Professional Development Project for northern communities, was begun in 1987. Participating orchestras, whose boards are required to raise a percentage of the funds, have included the North Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury, and Timmins SOs. Musicians in the program play in the local orchestra, teach, perform chamber music, and travel to neighbouring communities to give school demonstrations. Other orchestras that have had musicians-in-residence programs include the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Kingston Symphony, the International Symphony of Sarnia and Port Huron, and the Kitchener-Waterloo, Thunder Bay, and Peterborough SOs.

Concerts And Repertoire

By 1991 the busiest major orchestras each gave between 120 and 160 concerts per season. The most modest community orchestras, rehearsing perhaps an evening a week during the fall and winter, prepared from 3 to 6.

By far the largest part of the music heard at orchestral concerts in Canada has been from the standard repertoire - Mozart, Beethoven, and the Romantics - but the major orchestras have programmed at least the showier specimens of 20th-century music - eg, Stravinsky's Sacre du printemps, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht, Berg's Violin Concerto, Hindemith's Mathis der Maler Symphony - and a careful number of less well established pieces by such composers as Boulez, Copland, Messiaen, Nono, Penderecki, Tippett, and Xenakis. The earlier or less radical established moderns - Britten, Debussy, Delius, Mahler, Nielsen, Prokofiev, Ravel, Sibelius, Strauss, Vaughan Williams - have had somewhat more attention; and during the 1970s, after the Canada Council's imposition of a 10 per cent Canadian program content quota, the orchestras receiving Canada Council assistance began to look more frequently and even more searchingly at the orchestral music of Canadian composers. In a paper titled 'The state of Canadian orchestras' and delivered 10 Dec 1979 to the Canada Council, Franz Kraemer, head of the council's music section, pointed out that in the 1978-9 season '60 different works (by 47 [Canadian] composers) were given at least one performance by an orchestra,' but added that 'most, if not all, of the works performed are part of the established Canadian repertoire. Too few orchestras commission new pieces.' (Some do, however, as may be seen from their entries in EMC, and not only those orchestras subsidized by the council.)

By 1991, with assistance from the Canada Council and provincial agencies, orchestras at every level had become more active in the creation of new works; some were commissioning or premiering new works almost annually. The Esprit Orchestra has been particularly active in this regard, commissioning several new works each season. Community orchestras have commissioned major new works on their own or jointly with other orchestras. Several major orchestras and some community orchestras have had composers-in-residence.

CBC presented the three-hour program 'Symphony of a Thousand' 29 May 1983, broadcast nationally and simultaneously on CBC TV and CBC radio to showcase 17 orchestras from Victoria, BC to St John's, Nfld.


In overnight runouts, short regional circuits, national tours, and extended trips abroad, Canadian orchestras during the 1970s became more mobile than ever before. For community orchestras, concerts in nearby towns were at once outings for the players, a search for wider box office, a means of expanding regional influence, and a justification for increased financial assistance from the province. For the major orchestras touring was a psychological spur - giving the players a healthy change in routine and their regular audiences the opportunity to find they missed them when they were not at hand - and the most effective and practical kind of public relations, turning a name into a reality for potential audiences and purchasers of recordings. Tours by major orchestras also came to be recognized as a stimulus to international goodwill, partly because of the immense glamour and dignity of a well-disciplined body of musicians, and partly because of the symphonic repertoire's power to stride across the barriers of language.

However, touring by Canadian orchestras goes back to 1903, when the Goulet MSO travelled to Moncton and Halifax to play at the Cycle of Musical Festivals. The MSO under Pelletier visited Quebec City in 1935. The TSO under MacMillan went to Montreal in the mid-1940s and to Detroit in 1951. The Montreal Women's SO under Ethel Stark played in Carnegie Hall in 1947 (the first Canadian orchestra to do so). The Edmonton SO under Lee Hepner went to Fort Saskatchewan in 1956. The Hart House Orchestra and Glenn Gould, under Boyd Neel, gave a concert at the World's Fair in Brussels in 1958 (playing Bach, Britten, Ridout, and Morawetz). The McGill Chamber Orchestra under Alexander Brott gave some concerts in the USA in 1959. Probably orchestral visits about and abroad were made before those. Touring in the broad sense, however, got under way in 1960, when the Hart House Orchestra made a 32-concert five-week tour of western Canada, its program including Blackburn'sSuite for string orchestra, which had been commissioned for the tour. In 1962 the MSO under its new conductor, Zubin Mehta, with Jacques Beaudry as associate conductor, made its first European tour (and the first such tour by any Canadian orchestra), giving concerts in Paris, Vienna, Moscow, and Leningrad. It was to make two more European tours in that decade and the next - one of Belgium, France, and Switzerland under Mehta in 1966, and one of France, Switzerland, England, and Czechoslovakia in 1976 under Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos - as well as a tour of Japan in 1970 under Franz-Paul Decker. But its leading contemporary, the TSO (TS), though it began more gradually (a Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 under Susskind, and concerts in Port Arthur and Winnipeg in 1964), became the busier touring orchestra during those same decades, visiting Great Britain (London, Glasgow, Cardiff) in 1965 under Seiji Ozawa; touring Ontario and visiting Expo 67 during the 1966-7 season; touring Japan in 1969 and giving concerts in Ottawa and New York that same year under Ozawa; travelling to England, Holland, Austria, and Germany in 1974 under Kazimierz Kord; and touring the Atlantic provinces in 1976, China and Japan in 1978, and Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and California in 1979 under Andrew Davis. Its visits to Carnegie Hall became annual, beginning in 1975. Both the MSO and the TS continued to tour widely and frequently during the 1980s.

The McGill Chamber Orchestra under Brott maintained a steady touring record - the USSR in 1966, the USA in 1967, Switzerland and France in 1973, Mexico in 1974, and Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary in 1978, South America in 1981, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in 1987, and Belgium and the Bermuda Festival in 1989. The Hart House Orchestra under Neel did not survive into the 1970s, but it made a notable tour of England, Belgium, and Scandinavia in 1966. The Vancouver SO under Kazuyoshi Akiyama made extended tours of Japan in 1974 and 1985 and returned there in 1991; it also has toured within Canada and in the western USA. In Alberta the Calgary Philharmonic has made regional sorties and toured central Canada in 1989, but the Edmonton SO has been more adventurous, touring the Yukon in 1957-8, accompanying the National Ballet on a western Canadian tour in 1968, giving concerts in Winnipeg, Prince George, and Whitehorse under Lawrence Leonard in 1971, and touring the Yukon and the North West Territories under Pierre Hétu in 1973; it also toured in Alberta in 1980 and appeared at Expo 86 in Vancouver. The CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra under John Avison toured Saskatchewan in 1967, and 26 players from the orchestra toured western Canada, the Arctic, Alaska, and Montana as the Vancouver Radio Orchestra in 1969 and ventured as far east as Ottawa; in 1983 the orchestra appeared at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. The Victoria SO under Laszlo Gati toured inland British Columbia in 1977 and has visited cities in Alberta and the Yukon. The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra under Boris Brott and the London SO (Orchestra London Canada) under Clifford Evens have visited many southern Ontario towns, and the philharmonic has appeared at the Algoma, Guelph Spring, and Shaw festivals, Ontario Place, and the Olympics in Montreal. The Winnipeg SO, under Piero Gamba, made eastern Canadian tours in 1970 and 1978, has visited many Manitoba and nearby US communities, and appeared at Carnegie Hall in 1979. The Orchestre symphonique régional d'Abitibi-Témiscamingue has regularly made regional tours.

The Atlantic SO was created largely to tour cities in the Atlantic provinces but eventually found that task financially overwhelming. The NACO, two years after its founding in 1969, began the regular tours that have made it a household word in all parts of Canada (it had visitied over 100 Canadian towns and cities by 1990) and it also has toured in Europe, the USA (eight times by 1990), Mexico (1975), and the Far East (1985). The Esprit Orchestra toured to Quebec in 1985 and the Calgary Olympics in 1988, and Tafelmusik toured North America in 1981, the Far East in 1990, and made the first of its regular visits to Europe in 1984.

Among Canada's many other orchestras, a surprising number have toured, helping to create a flourishing environment for the development of orchestral concerts in communities other than their own, often in communities which have no other opportunity to hear such concerts live. The foregoing has surveyed only the most visible of the many touring programs that have been undertaken.

The Community Orchestra in the 1970s and 1980s

There is more to be said about the community orchestras of Canada than will be evident in EMC's individual entries on the largest of them. Of the 94 members of ACO and OFSO in the 1990-1 Directory of Canadian Orchestras, those with annual budgets of under $500,000 numbered 70. Of these, 47 were open to amateurs (the remaining orchestras were either youth or university orchestras or small orchestras with entirely professional players). Of these 47, there were 6 in British Columbia, 5 in Alberta, 31 in Ontario, and one each in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. In 1991 there were no community orchestras within the ACO fraternity in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, although community orchestras certainly operated in these provinces, as indeed did others not associated with ACO elsewhere in Canada.

Of all ACO-member orchestras with some amateur players (the proportion of amateur and professional players varies considerably), 6 gave 2 to 3 concerts on annual budgets of less than $5,000, 8 gave 3 to 5 concerts on budgets of up to $25,000, 15 gave 4 to 8 concerts on less than $75,000, 6 gave 4 to 10 concerts on less than $150,000, 7 gave 9 to 16 concerts on less than $250,000 and 2 gave 17 to 27 concerts on less than $350,000. Community orchestras in 1990 with budgets of between $350,000 and $500,000 included the Okanagan, Kingston and Niagara SOs; orchestras with soley professional players in the same budget range were the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Toronto Pops Orchestra. In 1990 no orchestra in Canada with amateur players had an annual budget of over $500,000; some small orchestras with entirely professional players had budgets of less than that.

By comparison, orchestras with all-professional players with annual budgets of up to $1 million in 1990 included the McGill Chamber Orchestra and the Regina, Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, and Trois-Rivières SOs. Orchestras with annual budgets of $1-2 million included Orchestra London, Symphony Nova Scotia, Tafelmusik, and the Victoria and Windsor SOs; these and the Hamilton Philharmonic and the Kitchener-Waterloo SO, which each had budgets of up to $3.5 million in 1990, were approaching a level of activity close to Canada's major orchestras in that they offered players something close to full-time employment for a good part of the season. Orchestras whose annual budgets in 1990 were $3.5-5 million included the Calgary Philharmonic and the Edmonton, Quebec, and Winnipeg SOs. Full-time orchestras with the largest budgets in Canada in the 1990-91 season included the TS ($18.3 million), the MSO ($14.5 million), the NACO (ca $8.5 million), and the Vancouver SO ($8.1 million).

The activity and expenditure of a community orchestra inevitably are linked to the size of population in the community it serves. Put truistically, it is unusual for a small community to be able to afford a high-priced orchestra, or for a major city not to support a large community orchestra. Specific factors of tradition and economy introduce variables, however. For instance, the industrially developed regions of Canada have more community orchestras than the agrarian and maritime regions, but within the industrial region a fast-growing industrial city without a university may not have as well-developed a symphony orchestra or symphony audience as a smaller, older, slower-growing university city. In 1990 the burgeoning industrial city of Oshawa, with a population of over 120,000, budgeted less than $150,000 for its orchestra, while the venerable university city of Kingston, with a population of some 61,000, budgeted roughly three times that amount. The development of a community orchestra often has been inhibited, also, by the nearness of a major orchestra. Many examples come to mind. The Windsor SO, though it plays on in a large industrial city of some 250,000 inhabitants, exists in the shadow of a major US orchestra - the Detroit SO, which plays just across the river. The Ottawa SO remains a community orchestra in a city of 300,000 because Ottawa is also the home of a full-time orchestra, the NACO. The several admirable community orchestras surrounding Toronto (the East York SO, the Etobicoke Philharmonic, the Mississauga SO, the North York SO, the York SO) cannot raise large funds and unlimited audiences from the same metropolitan population which supports and attends the $18.3 million-per-annum TS. Conversely, some orchestras gain an advantage from isolation. The role of the Thunder Bay SO, as the only large community orchestra in the vast and sparsely populated area between the Toronto-Hamilton-London-Kitchener axis and Winnipeg, has been acknowledged by higher-than-average funding from the OAC.

Many of Canada's community orchestras have been shaped by socio-geographic conditions. The Deep River Symphony Orchestra (founded 1952) was developed by the nuclear scientists of that small northeastern Ontario community to provide its inhabitants with 'a musical alternative to the northern service of the CBC' and may be the only amateur orchestra anywhere with a membership made up largely of PH Ds in physics. The International Symphony Orchestra of Sarnia and Port Huron has drawn its governing board and its players from both sides of the US-Canadian border and given all of its concerts in both cities. The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra has co-existed gracefully with the NACO, playing in the same magnificent auditorium (the Opera of the NAC) and planning its program to complement the more complex fare of the full-time orchestra. The aforementioned community orchestras of suburban Toronto have provided steady playing opportunities and even modest fees for the many advanced student instrumentalists and serious amateurs in the Toronto area. The Okanagan SO has represented at the community-orchestra level the same principle that the Atlantic SO represented at the major-orchestra level; that is, it has served not one city but several in its region (the Okanagan Valley), with players and board members from each and audiences in each.

By the 1970s most of the community orchestras of Canada had professional musicians conducting them, or were giving gifted young conductors the nearest thing to those invaluable training podiums, the orchestra pits of the small European opera houses, that Canada could provide. Many community orchestras also employed professional administrators, and some had professional players regularly in the principal chairs and in other key positions. Most offered their audiences guest appearances by leading Canadian soloists. Many community orchestras by 1991 had increased the number of professional players in their ranks.

The 1980s saw the creation or continuation of various specialized community orchestras. Some serve particular ethnic communities, eg, in Toronto Lyra Borealis featured works by composers of Estonian heritage, the Toronto Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra has performed works by composers of Chinese origin and has featured Chinese soloists, the Toronto Sinfonietta has emphasized works by Polish and Polish-Canadian composers, and the Korean-Canadian SO has offered concerts with Korean soloists. Victor Di Bello's Pro Arte Orchestra has continued to devote itself to performances in schools. In British Columbia in the 1980s a few community orchestras with exclusively senior-citizen membership began. Much musical activity in Manitoba has resulted from efforts of families of the Mennonite community - among them the Winnipeg-based families of Dahl, Enns, Horch, Klassen, and Konrad - which often have been virtual orchestras in themselves and count among their members professional and amateur players and music teachers.

In 1991 orchestras continued to foster much musical activity at the community level and, in isolated communities, were central to classical music performance and study. Aside from regular performances, community orchestras have provided opportunities for young players, soloists and conductors, provided employment for professional players, built an awareness of symphonic art music among the general public, and established youth orchestras and local music schools. Most orchestras have spawned chamber ensembles, which operate under the parent orchestra's auspices to varying degrees. Orchestra board members are often advocates for the arts in general in their community. In the 1980s several community orchestras moved to newly built or refurbished concert halls; among them the orchestras in Nepean (Ottawa), Thunder Bay, Victoria and Windsor.

British Columbia

By 1991 no net fine enough to capture detailed information on all of Canada's community orchestras had been devised. The ensuing list (arranged chronologically within provinces), provides available data on a number of those without entries of their own in EMC, but makes no claim to be comprehensive. Historical orchestras have been included when sufficient information has been found. Others have been mentioned in the entries on the cities where they flourished.


Crowsnest Pass
Crowsnest Pass Symphony Orchestra, Blairmore; amateur and informal training orchestra for students; 50 members in 1990. Begun in the early 1920s as a string ensemble and conducted until 1959 by Walter Moser. Other conductors have been Roy Upton 1959-71 and 1977-87, Richard (Dick) Burgman 1971-2, Frank Edl 1972-6, and Susan Foster 1987-8. Burgman returned to the position in 1988.

'Crowsnest Pass Symphony,' Music in Alberta, Winter 1974

Webster, Betty. 'Small is beautiful,' OCan, Nov 1985


See Regina SO; Saskatoon SO; see also Youth orchestras.


St James
St James Concert Orchestra, Winnipeg; 20 members; founded in 1920 and conducted until 1974 by Fred Stanford. William Roberts succeeded Stanford as conductor. No longer active.


Harmony Symphony
Harmony Symphony Orchestra, Toronto; begun after World War I and conducted until 1933 by Arthur Semple. It became an activity of the Harmony Masonic Lodge in 1922, but masonic sponsorship was dropped when women joined the orchestra, which thereupon became a self-supporting group of amateur players. Membership varied between 50 and 90. The orchestra gave between two and six concerts a season, many with guest soloists. With the development of other community orchestras in the Toronto area in the early 1970s, the Harmony SO disbanded. Conductors after Semple included, in turn, Maurice Dunmall, Leslie Bell, Brian McCool, James Gayfer, Henry Rzepus, Stanley Clark, Francis J. Francis, and Alan Doremus.


Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières; founded in 1943 by the violinist Joseph Gélinas, who conducted it until 1946. Gélinas was succeeded by Edwin Bélanger 1946-7 and Jean-Yves Landry 1947-9; the orchestra ceased activities in 1949. In 1977 Gilles Bellemare revived it and remained its conductor in 1991. The present orchestra has premiered numerous works by Canadian composers, among them Pierre-Michel Bédard, Timothy Brady, Jacques Faubert, Anne Lauber, and Myke Roy. In 1985 it premiered a Concerto for ondes Martenot, strings, and percussion by Marcel Landowski with Jean Laurendeau as soloist. In 1990 it recorded a CD of 19 chansons by Félix Leclerc with the bass Joseph Rouleau for the Amplitude label (OPCD-1005). Both the orchestra and a smaller chamber orchestra formed from its members have given numerous concerts in Trois-Rivières and the Mauricie region.

New Brunswick

Edmundston Symphony Orchestra. Organized as a 42-member amateur orchestra in 1946. The conductor in 1955 was Georges Guerrette. The orchestra gave an annual series of concerts in Edmundston and also performed in Maine. No longer active

Nova Scotia

Chebucto Symphony Orchestra, Halifax-Dartmouth; formed for amateur and professional musicians in 1975 as the Chebucto Orchestra under the auspices of the Nova Scotia Dept of Recreation. Kenneth Elloway, the founding conductor, was succeeded in turn by Brian March, James Williams, Edmond Agopian, and John Rapson. In 1991 it had some 50 members, and presented series concerts annually, some with guest artists. Beginning in the early 1980s, the orchestra has featured the winner of the local Kiwanis music competition in a concerto performance. The orchestra's regular venues have been St Mary's U Auditorium 1975-88 and thereafter in Dalhousie's Sir James Dunn Theatre in Halifax. It has performed in neighbouring towns of Bedford, Churchill, Pictou, and Truro, and has collaborated with the Dartmouth Choral Society, the Dartmouth Ballet School, and several area church choirs. It premiered Sandy Moore's Inner Landscapes in 1984.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra
Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra, Charlottetown; founded in 1968. This community orchestra is made up of some 60-70 professional, semi-professional, and amateur musicians, about half of whom have been regularly imported from the mainland. Conductors have included Thomas Hahn 1967-70, Alan Reesor 1970-6, William Bartlett 1977-8, Czeslaw Gladyszewski 1978-9, Brian Ellard 1983-98, Carolyn Davis 1998-2000, and James Mark from 2000. It has annually presented of three or four concerts at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, and has performed with area school choirs , ensembles from the University of PEI, Confederation Centre of the Arts choirs, and guest soloists from PEI and the Maritime provinces. In 1987 the orchestra presented Holst's The Planets with 90 musicians, the largest group ever to perform in PEI to that time. John Allan Cameron appeared with the orchestra in 1988 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Under Ellard the orchestra performed live nationally on CBC TV for the opening ceremonies for the Canada Winter Games in February 1991. In 1989, it premiered PEI composer Shawn Ferris's work Suspended Triangle. The orchestra has commissioned and premiered works by other Canadian composers (Robin Minard's Spirales, 1990, and Jim O'Leary's Concerto for Trombone, 2004) and has received Canada Council grants.


Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, St John's
Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, St John's; founded in 1967 as the St John's Orchestra with 50 members; it was sponsored by the Extension Service of Memorial University. It changed its name to the St John's Symphony Orchestra in 1970. Peter Gardner was engaged as concertmaster in 1971 and was conductor 1975-6. The orchestra's annual concert series - 6 concerts in the 1990-1 season - has been given in the Arts and Culture Centre and other community centres. Conductors have included Ian Mennie 1970-5, David Gray 1977-82, and Charles Zachary Bornstein 1982-4, succeeded by Mario Duschenes in 1985. In 1991 the orchestra had 60-70 members - amateur, student and professional. Of the latter some taught at Memorial University. Among the orchestra's series have been concerts by the Newfoundland SO Sinfonia, a 20-member chamber orchestra established in 1988 under Gardner. The orchestra has also sponsored a four-concert chamber series featuring the Atlantic String Quartet and a recital series with guest artists. Beginning in 1988 the larger orchestra has annually performed Handel's Messiah on local CBC radio with the Newfoundland SO Philharmonic Choir, formed in 1988 under conductor David Dunsmore; the 1989 Messiah performance was broadcast nationally on CBC TV. The orchestra has regularly featured guest soloists and performed Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra in 1990. It has commissioned and premiered works by Michael Parker and Brian Sexton, and in 1990 sponsored a concerto competition, won by the violinist Krista Buckland.

Fraser, Matthew. 'Sour notes served up on the Rock,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 27 Oct 1984.

Fricker, H. Cecil. 'The development of the orchestra in Canada,' Twentieth Century, 3 instalments, vol 1, Apr, May, Jun 1933

Adaskin, John. 'Radio production in relation to symphony broadcasting,' CRMA, vol 1, Apr 1942

MacMillan, Sir Ernest. 'Orchestral and choral music in Canada,' Music Teachers' National Association Proceedings (1946)

Neel, Boyd. 'Small orchestras: musical need,' SatN, 19 Feb 1955

Canada Council. Annual Reports (Ottawa 1958-)

'Orchestras,' CMJ, vol 3, Winter 1959

Heinze, Sir Bernard. Private report to the Canada Council, Jun 1960

'Ontario Arts Council sponsors orchestra study,' CanComp, 10, Sep 1966

Schabas, Ezra. Ontario Community Orchestras: A Report for the Province of Ontario Council for the Arts and the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras (Toronto 1966)

- 'The symphony orchestra: progress or decay?' CanComp, 16, Mar 1967

'Canada Council reports growth of music in Canada,' CanComp, 22, Oct 1967

Edds, John A. 'The case for the community orchestra,' CanComp, 26, Feb 1968

Sunter, Robert. 'Ontario orchestras,' OpCan, Feb 1969

CMCentre. Catalogue of Canadian Music Suitable for Community Orchestras compiled by Jan Matejcek (Toronto 1971)

Kraglund, John. 'Ontario's 24 - yes 24 - symphonies on quick march,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 12 Feb 1972

Orchestra Canada, ACO/OFSO newsletter (Toronto, Oct 1973-)

ACO/OFSO. Directory of Canadian Orchestras and Youth Orchestras/Annuaire des orchestres et orchestres des jeunes canadiens, annual, begun 1975-6 (Toronto)

Winters, Kenneth. 'Canadian orchestras in growth,' CMB, 10, Spring-Summer 1975

'Orchestras tour Canada and Europe,' Touring Office Bulletin, vol 2, Oct 1976

Littler, William. 'Sunday symphonies: community musicians have high standards,' Toronto Star, 22 Jan 1977

Reid, Wendy. 'Community orchestras - a self-made success,' Fugue, May 1977

Waller, Adrian. 'From coast to coast; the sound of music,' Reader's Digest, Jul 1977

Lauzon, Norman. 'Les Ontariens sont-ils plus musiciens que les Québécois?' Musique périodique, vol 1, Mar 1977; transl Leonard Rosemarin, 'Is Ontario more musical than Québec?' OCan, vol 4, Sep 1977

Directory of Conductors in Canada/Annuaire des chefs d'orchestre au Canada (Toronto 1977)

Dzeguze, Kaspars. 'Sound of symphonies,' Maclean's, 26 Dec 1977

Waller, Adrian. 'Music's new awakening,' Imperial Oil Review, 6, 1977

'Bush-league Bach,' The Canadian, 25 Feb 1978

Schulman, Michael. 'The Canadian symphonic hit and miss parade,' Mcan, 36, Aug 1978

Thompson, Leslie. 'Pop! goes the orchestra,' Music, Dec 1978

Kraemer, Franz. The State of Canadian Orchestras (Ottawa 1980)

'Orchestra news letters,' OCan, vol 7, Mar 1980

Read, Merilyn. 'Some sympathy for symphonies,' Maclean's, 4 Aug 1980

Littler, William. 'Canada's troubled symphony orchestras,' Toronto Star, 24 May 1980

- 'Can we afford 60 symphony orchestras?' Toronto Star, 25 May 1980

- 'Orchestras have to give up penguin suits,' Toronto Star, 26 May 1980

Ortved, Mary. 'Symphonic sound waves,' TS News, issue 5, 1980-1

Fraser, Matthew. 'Sour notes served up on the Rock,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 27 Oct 1984

Wall, Geoffrey and Mitchell, Clare. The Community Impact of Community Orchestras (Waterloo, Ont 1984)

'Canadian orchestras today,' special issue, Mcan, 51, Jun 1984

Kilburn, Nicholas. 'Our orchestras: need young Canadians apply?' Mcan, 54, Jul 1985

Markow, Robert. 'The growing pains of our orchestras,' Music, vol 9, May-Jun 1986

Everett-Green, Robert, et al. 'Orchestral manoeuvres,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 20 Feb 1988

McLean, Eric. 'Orchestras facing stormy seas,' Montreal Gazette, 20 Feb 1988

'In concert for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra,' special section to Toronto Globe and Mail, 18 Nov 1988

Potvin, Gilles. 'Performers,' Aspects of Music in Canada

Pelletier, Wilfrid. 'Orchestras,' Music in Canada


Penticton Orchestral Society; 1921-ca 1950s; 25-30 members. Conductors included the founder, H.K. Whimster 1921-late 1930s, W.J. Harris 1942-6, and Mr Mossop (probably Frank Mossop) and Mr Ireland 1946-early 1950s.

New Westminster

New Westminster Symphony Orchestra; orchestra comprising amateur and student musicians, begun as the New Westminster Civic Orchestra in 1944. The present name was adopted in 1972. The orchestra has varied in size; it had 65 players in 1959, 49 in 1975, 63 in 1983, 40 in 1991, and 56 in 2007, with professional players added for concerts. Conductors, in order, have been Richard T. Bevan, Jascha Galperin, John Avison, Frederick Nelson, Gregori Garbovitsky, Frank D'Andrea, Monrad Malmin, Gideon Grau, Willem Bertsch, David Jennings, C.J. Littlewood, Cardo Smalley, Karl Kobylansky, Bryan Gooch, Patricia Olfrey and Jin Zhang. It has presented four series concerts annually (most at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster), and has performed with the Delta Youth Orchestra, as well as annual appearances at the Hyack Festival. Tickets were sold in the early years, but by 1983 admission was by donation. Canadian works the orchestra has performed include the 1990 premiere of Paul M. Douglas' Rigi-In Memoriam-A Friend; in 2000, they performed Godfrey Ridout's Fall Fair. Jon Kimura Parker appeared with the orchestra in November 1972.

The orchestra is administered by the New Westminster Symphony Society (New Westminster Civic Orchestral Society 1944-72).

An earlier New Westminster Civic Symphony operated 1915-35.


Nanaimo Symphony Orchestra; begun in 1949; 40 amateur members. A predecessor was the Nanaimo Symphonettes, formed in 1943. Conductors have included the founder, Maurice Kushner 1949-62, succeeded in turn by J.L. Getgood, Heinz Kilian, Ed Gibney, Bryan Gooch, John Lewis, Thomas Petrowitz, Robert Cooper, Bruce Dunn, Ian Hampton, and from 1980, Lloyd Blackman. The orchestra commissioned and premiered Adaskin's Nootka Ritual in 1974. It presented four concerts in the 1989-90 season at the Malaspina College Theatre and has performed with the Malaspina Chorus and the Delta Youth Orchestra.


Okanagan Symphony Orchestra; begun in 1959 and named the Okanagan Valley Symphony until 1966; 55-60 members. Rehearses and performs in Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, and Salmon Arm. The founder and first conductor, Willem Bertsch, was followed in 1964 by Douglas Talney and in 1965 by Leonard Camplin. Camplin in 1978 was given the official title of resident conductor, which he retained in 1991. The Okanagan Symphony Choir, established in 1970, was directed by Jocelyn Pritchard. Imant Raminsh succeeded Pritchard in 1978. The orchestra gave 16 concerts in the 1979-80 season. By 1991 the orchestra had a core of 30 professional musicians - which also comprised the chamber orchestra Sinfonia, established in 1981 and also conducted by Camplin - and presented 6 concerts in each of its four host communities. The orchestra was broadcast nationally by CBC radio in 1989.

Edds, Jack. 'Have instrument - will travel: the story of the peripatetic musicians of the Okanagan orchestra,' OCan, vol 5, Jan 1978

'Symphony entering fourth decade,' Penticton Herald, 16 Dec 1989


Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra; amateur orchestra of 50-60 members established in 1964 by an amalgamation of the Dunbar Orchestra and the Jewish Community Centre String Orchestra. Originally named the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, it became the Vancouver Philharmonic in 1972. Conductors have included Annette Coates, Leonard Camplin 1965-72, Paul Douglas 1972-6, oboist Jerry Domer 1976-93, Jesse Read 1993-5, Wallace Leung 1996-2001, Juan Castelao 2003-6, and Jack (Jin) Zhang from 2006. Under the last-named, the orchestra gave four concerts in the 1989-90 season. A children's series was begun in 1990. The orchestra has premiered works by Edward Arteaga, Ka Nin Chan, Gertrude Cotterall, David Duke, Paul Douglas, and Gordon Lucas.


Hampton Concert Orchestra; formed in Victoria in 1968 as a small amateur orchestra for senior citizens. By the late 1970s it had expanded to 80-90 members of various ages, and had received support from the province's Dept of Health and Welfare. It operated 1981-4 the Hampton Development Orchestra for young players. In 1983 the orchestra split into two groups: one, predominantly for seniors, retained the Hampton name and the other, for players of various ages, became the Civic Orchestra of Victoria (see below). In 1991 the Hampton group had some 40 members, and gave 4-5 concerts annually, mostly for audiences of seniors but also for the community at large. Conductors have been William Harris 1968-72, David Redden 1972-5, Melvin Knudsen 1975-8, Charles Barber 1979-83, and Simon Leung 1983-5, succeeded by Austin A. Scott, Jr.

Prince George

Prince George Symphony Orchestra; begun in 1971 as the New Caledonia Chamber Orchestra with 23 members under Imant Raminsh, later (until 1981) named the New Caledonia Symphony Orchestra. Conductors for the enlarged orchestra, which in 1990 had five professional players, have included Kerry Stratton 1977-83, Roberto De Clara 1984-7, William Janzen 1987-8, succeeded by John Unsworth in 1988, Wallace Leung (b Vancouver 8 Dec 1968, d New York 18 Jan 2002) in 2001-2, and Leslie Dala in 2004. In the 1990-1 season the orchestra's 55 members presented a main series of 16 performances, a chamber music series, and children's and pops concerts. It premiered Malcolm Forsyth'sThese Cloud Capp'd Towers in May 1991.

Portman, Jamie. 'Community orchestra shows professional commitment,' Calgary Herald, 23 Mar 1979

'Prince George Symphony,' Pringe George Citizen, 19 Apr 1989

Oak Bay (Victoria)

Oak Bay Seniors' Orchestra (Victoria); 20-member ensemble founded as the Oak Bay Concert Orchestra ca 1973 for amateur senior-citizen players. Its conductors have been Ronald Grant and George Oare, succeeded in 1981 by Werner A. Gebhardt. In 1991 the orchestra gave concerts annually at the Oak Bay Seniors' Activity Centre and in Victoria-area hospitals and rest homes.


Symphony of the Kootenays (named Kootenay Chamber Orchestra 1975 to ca. 1995), Cranbrook; begun in 1975 as a 13-member amateur ensemble. In 1990 it was a 28-member orchestra comprising professional players. Founding conductor Zdenec Kriz was succeeded by cellist Ronald Edinger 1979-98 and Bruce Dunn, beginning ca. 1998. The orchestra has presented an average of 12 concerts annually and has toured area communities. Repertoire has included choral works and occasional opera excerpts.

Symphonie Canadiana

Symphonie Canadiana, North Vancouver; 55-60 members; begun in 1975 as a summer orchestra and conducted by its founder, Yondani Butt; it later performed up to 16 concerts each season and was active until the early 1980s

'Symphonie Canadiana,' Playboard, vol 15, Sep 1980


Kamloops Symphony Orchestra; 50-member amateur orchestra begun in 1976. Ten professional players - a woodwind and a string quintet - joined the orchestra in 1985. Conductors have been James Verity 1976-9, Robert Ryker 1979-80, Gordon Waters 1980-2, Juliet Proudman 1983-7, William Phillips 1987-8, and Czeslaw Gladyszewski 1988-90, succeeded by Bruce Rodney Dunn. In its first 15 years the orchestra presented 4 to 6 concerts per season, some with guest artists; in 1991 the orchestra had a 7-concert main series and a 5-concert chamber music series. Members of the professional core taught at the Kamloops Community Music School, which was active 1984-9. In 1980 the orchestra began its annual New Celebrity Competition, sponsored by Kamloops residents Glenn and Mary Martin, which has offered Canadian music students the opportunity to compete for a cash prize and a solo appearance with the orchestra. Winners have included Kevin Fitz-Gerald (1982) and the violinist Emmanuelle Boisvert (1984).

Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley Symphony; amateur orchestra of 40-45 members begun in 1982 based in Abbotsford and operated beginning in 1983 under the auspices of the Fraser Valley Symphony Society. Conductors have been Daffydd Jennings 1982-3, David Squires 1984-7, and Gerald King 1987-8, succeeded by David Rushton in 1988. In its 1990-1 season the orchestra presented 3 programs - each of which was performed in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Fort Langley - a children's concert, and a chamber music concert. It performed at Expo 86 and has performed with the Valley Festival Singers and the Pacific Mennonite Children's Choir.

Civic Orchestra of Victoria

Civic Orchestra of Victoria; 67-member amateur orchestra formed in 1983 with players from the Hampton Concert Orchestra (see above). Conductors have been Charles Barber 1978-85 and Stuart Knussen 1985-8, succeeded by Robert Cooper. In 1988 it performed a one-hour Christmas special for CHEK-TV (Victoria). The orchestra began annual pops concerts in 1989 and performed with the visiting Morioka Orchestra from Japan in January 1990. In 1990 it gave some 12 concerts in Victoria, neighbouring communities, and Washington state. Its regular performing venue in 1991 was the University of Victoria Centre Auditorium.


Richmond Community Orchestra and Chorus; formed in 1986. The 20-member amateur orchestra and 50-voice chorus have given 3-4 concerts annually, some with local soloists. Conductors have been George Austin 1986-8 (orchestra and chorus), Peter Rohloff 1988-91 (orchestra), Charles Willett 1991- (orchestra), and Leonard Lythgoe (chorus) 1988-.


Edmonton Philharmonic Orchestra (Edmonton Philharmonic Society); amateur orchestra established September 1971 by Ranald Shean. Robert Cook was the first conductor, 1971-3, followed by Manus Sasonkin 1973-4, Eric Hanson 1975-9, Dan Breda 1979-82, Kirk Muspratt 1982-3, John Unsworth 1983-5, George Naylor 1985-96 and Diane Persson beginning in 1997. The 50-member orchestra has given from four to six concerts annually in community centres and malls, and spring concerts at the University of Alberta. It has performed with St. David's Welsh Male Voice Choir, local children's choirs, and Alberta soloists. Walter Chornowol was concertmaster beginning in the early 1970s, after which the position was shared by Lewis Davies and Joan Rodgers.

The orchestra's concerts feature a blend of standard classical repertoire and popular music (eg, by Howard Shore and George Gershwin). It has commissioned one composition, Flourish - Voluntary - Ground, by Roger Deegan (premiered 28 Oct 2001), and has performed Robert McMullin's Prairie Sketches.

(This amateur Edmonton Philharmonic should not be confused with the different orchestra of the same name that was folded into the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in 1952.)

Medicine Hat

Medicine Hat Symphony Orchestra; 45 members; begun in 1954 as the Medicine Hat Little Symphony and conducted until 1962 by Robert Thompson. Thompson's successor, Alex Shand, was followed by Larry Krantz in 1975, and the new name was adopted that year. In addition to playing for local musical theatre productions and giving concerts the orchestra has sponsored series of recitals by young performers. It operated as the Medicine Hat Youth and Community Orchestra in 1990.

'Medicine Hat Little Symphony,' Music in Alberta, Spring 1974


Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra; semi-professional orchestra in southern Alberta begun in 1960 as an amateur ensemble; it had 60 members in 1991 and 74 in 2007. The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert in May 1961. Albert Rodnunsky, the founding conductor, served until 1966. Other conductors have been Kenneth Hicken 1966-7, Peter Heyblom 1967-8, Wilfred Woolhouse 1968-70, Lucien Needham 1970-6, the clarinetist J. P. Christopher Jackson, and Stewart Grant (the first full-time music director) 1978-96. Claude Lapalme held the position 1996-2002; Ken Rogers was interim conductor 2002-3, and Glenn Klassen was appointed in 2003.

Norbert Boehm was hired as concertmaster in 1974 and held that position in 2007. More professional players soon filled principal chairs - by 1991 a string quartet and oboe, and later a string quartet alone, which comprises the chamber ensemble Musaeus. The orchestra's regular performance venue has been the Yates Memorial Centre, where it gave five series concerts in its 1990-1 season. It collaborates annually with the 100-voice Vox Musica Choral Society of Lethbridge University. In 2007 the symphony's season comprised the Master Series concert (five concerts); a Broadway musical in concert annually, starting in 2000; and a Kids Choir concert. The Musaeus season featured the At Noon Concert series (six concerts) and Chamber Music series (four concerts). In the 1990s, Gallery and Connoisseur series were offered.

In 1977 the orchestra, with Louise Chapman Needham as the solo pianist, commissioned and premiered Lethbridge composer-teacher Dean G. Blair's Lethbridge Concerto. Other Canadian works since performed include Stewart Grant's Symphonic Variations in 1984, Murray Adaskin's Diversion for Orchestra in 1991, Victor Davies' Mennonite Piano Concerto in 2001, and Gary Kulesha's Marimba Quintet in 2006. Pianist Angela Chung, the Foothills Brass Quintet, pianist Glen Montgomery and cellist Shauna Rolston have performed with the orchestra. Besides its regular concerts in Lethbridge, the orchestra has performed in Fort Macleod, Medicine Hat, Pincher Creek, Taber and other Alberta communities.

A Symphony Chorus was active in the late 1960s and 1970s as part of the Lethbridge Symphony Association, which also sponsors concerts and recitals by other performers and ensembles, eg, Canadian Brass. Among these and affiliated with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra is the Southern Alberta Chamber Orchestra. The symphony began hosting a Young Artist Competition in 2003. In 2007 a Symphony Women's League was still active.

Wall, Geoffrey and Mitchell, Clare. The Lethbridge Symphony: Community Impact (Waterloo, Ont,1983)

Central Alberta String

Central Alberta String Orchestra, Red Deer; 45 members; begun in 1964. Conductors were Antoinette Stuppard 1964-9, George Naylor 1969-77, George Ardois 1977-8, and Conrad Wolfe 1978-9. Naylor resumed the post in 1979. The orchestra customarily gave four concerts a season. No longer active by 1990.

Nova Musica

Nova Musica Orchestra, Edmonton; amateur orchestra established in 1980 as a string orchestra associated with the Cosmopolitan Music Society. Two years later the orchestra added wind, brass and percussion sections and began operating on its own. It has been conducted by Richard Caldwell, its founder, 1982-92; Edward Staples 1992-6; Bill Dimmer 1996-8; Blyth Nuttall 1998-2002; and Joel Tomlenovich beginning in 2002. Concertmasters have included Ken Hall and Ann Murray. Nova Musica's 25 to 40 amateur and student players perform six concerts annually, including formal concerts, outreach performances in the community and run-out concerts in Edson, Mayerthorpe, Fort Saskatchewan and other Alberta towns. Admission to performances is free or by donation. In April 1993 Nova Musica put on orchestra workshops. For the orchestra's 25th anniversary, it commissioned Allegro, Adagio and Celebration from Tomlenovich (premiered 27 May 2007).

Southern Alberta

Southern Alberta Chamber Orchestra. Begun in 1981 as the Lethbridge Symphony Chamber Orchestra under Stewart Grant. It's predecessor was a chamber ensemble formed in 1977 and directed by J.P. Christopher Jackson. It took its second name in 1983 to reflect its larger membership and the geographical range of its audiences. The orchestra's 16 or so members have included amateurs and professionals, some of whom play with the Lethbridge SO. Its concerts have been recorded by CBC radio for broadcast in the province. In 1991 it had a 3-concert series at Southminster Church in Lethbridge. The orchestra has performed with the University of Lethbridge's Vox Musica and other choirs, and has played in Brooks, Medicine Hat, Taber, Claresholm, and Camrose.

Grande Prairie College

Grande Prairie College Chamber Orchestra; 30-member orchestra founded by concertmaster and music director Gilbert Hill in 1987 and comprised of Grande Prairie College faculty, area music teachers, advanced students, and amateurs. The orchestra has given two concerts annually in the college auditorium. Guest conductors have included Merrill Flewelling, Paul Rathke, Henry Klassen, and Gerald Nelson. The orchestra's predecessor, the Grande Prairie College Community Orchestra was active 1968-80 and had 12 players; conductors were Nelson 1968-72 and 1974-6, and John Hancock in 1973 and 1978-80.

Red Deer

Red Deer Symphony Orchestra; formed in 1987 with financial assistance from the Royal Canadian Legion in Red Deer. The founding conductor, band director Howard Mar, was succeeded by Claude Lapalme in 1990. Among the orchestra's 45-60 members have been area music teachers, advanced students, amateurs and, as required, players imported from Calgary. In 1991 it presented a 4-concert series at the Red Deer College Arts Centre. Local players have appeared as soloists.


Concordia Orchestra; established in 1988 under conductor Barrie Bromley and affiliated with Concordia College in Edmonton. The orchestra's ca 50 amateur members have presented 2 concerts annually, and have performed in neighbouring communities.

La Sinfonietta de Saint-Boniface

La Sinfonietta de Saint-Boniface; 25-45 members; founded in 1928 by its only conductor, Marius Benoist. It made its debut that year at the Walker Theatreassisting in the Cercle Molière production of Daudet's L'Arlésienne with Bizet's music. The orchestra, made up of both amateur and professional players, gave annual concerts. With the Société lyrique Gounod it presented the opera Mireille in 1935 and that composer's Roméo et Juliette in 1936. Other notable performances included that of Benoist's La Rencontre dans l'escalier in 1952 and Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ in 1955. A special concert 29 Nov 1978 at the Centre culturel Franco-Manitobain marked the orchestra's 50th anniversary.

Winnipeg Pops

Winnipeg Pops Orchestra (formerly the St James Pops Orchestra), Winnipeg; founded in 1955 by William Lord. In 1979 it numbered 25 amateur, student, and professional players who presented one public concert and several informal concerts each year. Lord was succeeded ca 1980 by Leon Bell - violinist, b Buchanan, Sask, 1916; former member of the Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg SOs; concertmaster of the St James Pops Orchestra under Lord; founder and conductor 1950-60 of the Eagles Concert Band in Winnipeg. Under Bell the orchestra increased its membership to as many as 45 players. The orchestra changed its name in 1983 and began to be sponsored by the Lions Club of Winnipeg in the mid-1980s. Under Bell it has given 10 to 12 concerts per season in community centres, some with local soloists, and has also performed in Selkirk and Steinbach.

Lord, William A. 'St. James (Man.),' CanComp, 23, Nov1967

Mennonite Community

Mennonite Community Orchestra, Winnipeg; ca 70 members; established in 1978. Its membership has been drawn from advanced music students at Winnipeg's two Mennonite colleges and from the community. Conductors have included, in turn, George Wiebe, William Berg, Carol Ann Weaver, Rennie Regehr, Christine Longhurst, John C. Klassen, Henry Engbrecht, and Bernie Neufeld. Professional players have joined the orchestra on occasion for concerts. In 1991 it was presenting 2 concerts annually, featured student members as soloists. It has performed with local choirs, and its regular venue has been Jubilee Place Auditorium. Benjamin Horch, president of the Mennonite Community Orchestra Society, also founded and conducted the Mennonite Symphony Orchestra 1943-55.


Brandon Symphony Orchestra, Brandon; established in 1986; also known as the Brandon Community Orchestra. It incorporated in 1988. Founding conductor Blaine Dunaway was succeeded in turn by Jeff Aaron, Fraser Linklater, and in 1990, Steward Butterfield. Its ca 30 members, many from western Manitoba, have given 5 concerts per season in Brandon churches and have performed in nearby towns such as Carberry, Neepawa, and Virden. It has performed with the Neepawa Choraliers, directed in 1990 by Carolyn Durston and Fran Fraser. It has premiered works based on fiddle tunes by the violinist and orchestra member Gordon Carnahan.

Manitoba Conservatory

Manitoba Conservatory Orchestra; amateur orchestra formed in 1989 under conductor Marvin Johnson, with the sponsorship of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts. The orchestra's 30 members - amateurs, students, and music teachers - gave their first concert in January 1990 and have performed at Jubilee Place of the Mennonite Brethren Bible College and in community centres in Winnipeg.


MusikBarock Ensemble, Winnipeg; chamber orchestra specializing in baroque repertoire established in 1989 under Eric Lussier - harpsichordist, conductor, b Mariapolis, Man, 1 May 1954; B MUS (Manitoba) 1976, L MUS (McGill) 1979, Concert Diploma (McGill) 1980; private studies with Kenneth Gilbert in 1980. Its 10 to 11 string players - several from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra -have performed on modern instruments with baroque bows and have been joined by wind players from time to time. Local singers have appeared as soloists. In 1991 the ensemble was giving 5 series concerts annually; its regular venue has been in Crescent Fort Rouge United Church in Winnipeg.

Deep River

Deep River Symphony Orchestra; established by the conductor Alec Moore in 1952. This 35-member orchestra was formed to provide musical activity for employees of the nearby Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories, their families, and communities in the upper Ottawa valley. The orchestra has been augmented occasionally by visiting players (eg, members of the Petawawa Armed Forces Base band and of the Nepean Symphony Orchestra). Two or three concerts have been presented annually and repeated in neighbouring towns, some with guest soloists. The Deep River Choral Society has assisted at some performances. Conductors have included William J.L. Byers, David Ward, Robert Ryker, Stephen van Heerden, and James Wegg. Peter Morris was music director designate in 1991. Most programs have included a contemporary Canadian work; in 1987 the orchestra commissioned Deep River Suite by Wegg.

'Deep River Orchestra,' CanComp, 25, Jan 1968


Brantford Symphony Orchestra; organized in 1953 as the Brantford String Symphony under Harold Neal. (Frederick C. Thomas had conducted a 35-member Brantford SO that flourished throughout the 1920s.) The enlarged orchestra took the new name in 1954. In the 1980s local players made up about a third of the membership and professional musicians from other areas the remainder. In 1991 the orchestra had 55-65 players. Annual series of from four to five concerts a season have been given at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts (formerly the Capitol Theatre). Conductors have included Horace Beard 1956-62, Claude W. Keast 1962-8, and Walter Babiak 1968-74, succeeded by Stanley Saunders, who retained the position in 1991.

East York

East York Symphony Orchestra, Toronto; begun in 1953 as the Bennington Heights Community Orchestra, which gave its first concert in 1955 under Assen Kresteff (succeeded by Albert Aylward in 1957). It became the East York Community Orchestra in 1965 and adopted its third name in 1967. The 72 members have been drawn from among Toronto amateur players and music students. It premiered Somers'Little Suite for Strings under Kresteff in 1956, Glick'sElegy for Orchestra in 1965, and Watson Henderson's Theme, Variations and Fugue in 1989. Resident conductors have included Milton Barnes, Orval Ries, Harvey Sachs, David Gray, Clifford Poole, and David Ford, with guest conductors for the 1990-1 season. Douglas Sanford became conductor in 1991. The orchestra presented four concerts at the Ontario Science Centre Auditorium in the 1989-90 season.

Sarnia and Port Huron

International Symphony of Sarnia and Port Huron, Sarnia, Ont, and Port Huron, Mich; begun in 1956 when the Little Orchestral Society of Sarnia (established in 1951) and the Port Huron String Ensemble joined to form the 55-member amateur orchestra whose players and board represent both cities and whose concert series is performed on both sides of the border. Conductors have included the US musicians Harry Begian, Frederic Johnson, Carl Karapetiak, Arthur Stephen, and John Sweeney and, from the Canadian side, Harman Haakman 1959-60, Donald A. McKellar 1968-74, David Gray 1974-7, Brian Jackson 1978-82, Kerry Stratton 1983-4, succeeded by Stan Kopac in 1985. The orchestra gave 22 performances in its 1990-1 season, including 3 concerts with the International Symphony Singers.

Carson, Judith Ann. 'A musical tale of two cities,' OCan, vol 3, Mar 1976


Oshawa Symphony Orchestra; begun in 1958 as a small amateur orchestra at Oshawa's O'Neill Collegiate. By 1968 the 60-member orchestra included local amateur musicians, some visiting professional players, and music students. The orchestra has performed in centres throughout the Durham region and has annually given six concerts in Oshawa. Conductors have included Francis J. Francis 1957-63, Edward Oscapella Sr 1963-7, Jacob Groob 1967-72, and Roy Cox 1972-9, succeeded by Winston Webber, who continued to conduct the orchestra in 1991. In that year the orchestra had 52 members and its principal venue was Eastdale Collegiate Auditorium.

'The Oshawa Symphony Orchestra,' CanComp, 27, Mar 1968

Chase, Christy. 'Oshawa Symphony: structured force of 63 people who give their spare time to entertain others,' Oshawa Times, 18 Mar1978


Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra, Etobicoke (west of Toronto); begun in 1960 under the sponsorship of the recreation committee of Etobicoke township, the 55-60-member orchestra has drawn its membership from amateurs and music students. In 1978 five professional musicians were engaged for first-chair positions. The orchestra premiered Samuel Dolin'sSymphony No. 3 in 1977, and Alan Torok's Concerto Ritmico; it also commissioned Milton Barnes' The Odessy to celebrate its 30th season. In 1991 the orchestra gave four subscription concerts annually. The conductors have included Harman Haakman 1960-2, 1965-7, 1971-2, and 1973-4, Hans Bauer 1962-5, Samuel Hersenhoren 1967-9, Barry Gosse 1974-5, and Eugene Kash 1975-84, succeeded by Tak-Ng Lai in 1986 (the 1985-6 season featured guest conductors). The orchestra has peformed with the Etobicoke Centennial Choir, the Toronto Korean-Canadian Choir, and members of the COC.

Eastern Ontario

Eastern Ontario Concert Orchestra; 43-member ensemble established in Belleville in 1961 by its first conductor, Stephen Choma, with amateur players drawn from seven communities in southeastern Ontario. Rehearsals were held first in Batawa, Ont, and concerts were given in Belleville, Trenton, Brighton, Stirling, Campbellford, Picton, Tweed, and elsewhere. Kerry Stratton, who became the conductor in 1976 following Choma's death, was succeeded in turn by Bruce McGregor in 1977, Clifford Crawley in 1982, James Coles in 1984, Dezsö Vághy in 1988, and Gordon Craig in 1990. The orchestra has performed an average of four concerts annually. It has performed with area choirs and the Belleville Theatre Guild in musical productions and concert performances of opera excerpts. It performed in Belleville's Centennial Secondary School auditorium until 1990, when it moved to Eastminster United Church, also in Belleville. The orchestra's one professional player in 1991, concertmaster Marion Stratton, began in that capacity with the orchestra's inception. The orchestra commissioned and premiered Crawley's Loyalist Suite in 1984 and Threnody in 1986.

'Eastern Ontario Concert Orchestra,' CanComp, 25, Jan 1968


York Symphony Orchestra, York (north of Toronto); established as a 12-member ensemble in 1961 by Joseph Rabinowitch as the Richmond Hill SO. It became the York Regional Orchestra and, in 1975, the York SO. It has drawn its 70 amateur members from Aurora, Newmarket, Woodbridge, and King City and has endeavoured to give concerts in all these centres. The orchestra began a scholarship program in 1978; by 1991 some 75 scholarships had been awarded to young orchestra members. Conductors have included Arthur Burgin 1961-8, Philip Budd 1969-74, Andrew Twa 1974-5, and Clifford Poole 1975-89, succeeded by Roberto De Clara in 1990. Orchestra members have on occasion performed chamber music in community centres. The orchestra's 1991-2 season offered 5 pairs of subscription concerts and 5 children's concerts. A youth orchestra, formed in 1990, had 60 players in 1991, aged 8 to 15.


Ottawa Symphony Orchestra/Orchestre symphonique d'Ottawa (OSO); established in 1965 as the Ottawa Civic Symphony Orchestra (the name changed in 1976). Formed by former auxiliary members of the Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra and by maturing Ottawa Youth Orchestra players, the orchestra comprises 80-100 amateur, student and professional musicians (some from the National Arts Centre Orchestra). The OSO gave its first concert 14 Apr 1966. The annual concert series - originally three or four concerts, rising to five in 1978-9 - was held first in Ottawa high schools, but in the early 1970s it was moved to the National Arts Centre. The orchestra has performed often with several choirs, among them the Cantata Singers of Ottawa, the Canadian Centennial Choir, and the Ottawa Choral Society. Conductors have included Clifford Hunt 1965-6, Nicholas Goldschmidt 1966-9, James Coles 1969-75, Brian Law 1975-91, and David Currie since 1992. The orchestra specializes in late 19th- and early 20th-century repertoire; its size enables it to perform the larger works of Berlioz, Mahler and Wagner. Many performances have included a Canadian work; the OSO has premiered works by Patrick Cardy, Jean Coulthard, Robert Fleming, Steven Gellman, Andrew Huggett, Jan Jarvlepp, Peter Paul Koprowski, and Colin Mack.

The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra performed at the Ontario Place Forum in 1984 and 1985. In 1995 the orchestra toured to Cornwall, Ont and in 1996 to Montreal. Also in 1995, the orchestra was heard on Radio Canada.

See also: Ottawa.

Gardner, David. Twenty-one Seasons of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra: A Celebration (Ottawa 1986)


Huronia Symphony Orchestra, Barrie and Orillia; 45-member amateur regional orchestra formed in 1966 by Muriel Leeper and Lloyd Tufford, the latter a school music administrator, organist, and choirmaster in Barrie. John Montague was the conductor 1966-8, followed by guest conductors until 1973, after which Arthur Burgin served as conductor until 1990. After a series of guest conductors in the 1990-1 season, Clyde Mitchell became music director and conductor in 1991. The orchestra's players - from the Huronia district, including Barrie, Orillia, Midland, Penetang, Stroud, Beeton, Loretto, and Alliston - are joined by professional players for concerts. In 1991 the orchestra presented a four-concert series and performed occasionally in neighbouring communities. It has collaborated with various local groups, including the King Edward Choir (Barbara McCann, director in 1989), and school and church choirs. The orchestra has featured local and guest soloists. Its principal venue has been Georgian College Theatre in Barrie.


Oakville Symphony Orchestra; begun in 1967 as a 60-member amateur orchestra. Conductors have been Kenneth Hollier 1967-73, David Gray 1974-6, Anthony Royse 1976-83, and Sydney Read 1983-6, succeeded by David Miller in 1987. In 1991 the orchestra's 55-65 players, of whom 4 were professional string-section principals, presented an annual series of five pairs of concerts at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, its regular venue beginning in 1986. It has performed with the Whiteoaks Choral Society and the Elizabeth Paterson Dance Company; with the latter it performed Royse's ballet Alice in Wonderland in the 1990-1 season. It has commissioned and premiered works by Applebaum, Michael Maxwell, and Howard Gerhard. With the Optimist Club of Oakville it has sponsored an annual Young Artist Competition, begun in 1988, which has awarded cash prizes and the opportunity to perform as soloist with the orchestra.


Peterborough Symphony Orchestra; 35- to 50-member amateur orchestra begun in 1967. It developed from a nucleus of string players led by Klemi Hambourg. Besides its annual series of concerts in the city, the orchestra in the 1970s began giving concerts in Cobourg, Port Hope, and Lindsay. In 1977 the orchestra named professional musicians to the positions of concertmaster and principal cello. Conductors have been Brian Jackson 1968-72, Harvey Sachs 1972-5, Bruce McGregor 1975-8, Winston Webber 1978-85, and Kerry Stratton 1985-6, succeeded by Stan Kopac, who retained the position in 1991. The orchestra's 1990-1 season offered four series concerts and two performances with the Peterborough Symphony Singers (formerly the Peterborough Symphony Chorus, begun in the mid-1970s and conducted in 1991 by Sidney Birrell). The orchestra has operated the Peterborough Youth Orchestra, begun in the late-1970s and conducted in 1991 by the violinist Bronson Kwan. The orchestra's regular performing venue beginning in 1980 has been the auditorium of the Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School; it has also performed at several area churches. It premiered Lothar Klein'sVoices of Earth: An Idyll (1976) and Michael Horwood's The National Park Suite (1991).

McGrath, Paul. 'Small city, big sound Messiah,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 3 Dec 1977

Te Deum

Te Deum Orchestra and Singers, Hamilton. Chamber orchestra of professional players in 1991 and amateur choir, established in 1968 as a 3-concert baroque chamber music series presented by founding artistic director Richard Birney-Smith at St James' Church in Dundas, Ont. A 10-voice choir was formed in 1971. In 1978 the choir and orchestra performed in a 5-concert Bach and Handel festival, organized by Birney-Smith. By 1980 the choir and orchestra's activities had increased to 6 concerts annually in Hamilton; in 1984 it began to repeat these in a regular series in Toronto. The orchestra has performed on modern and period instruments and premiered William Wallace's Cantilena for Strings (1982) and Birney-Smith's Suite in A Minor (1980) for harpsichord and strings. Concertmasters have included Nancy Mathis DiNovo 1980-3 and Norman Hathaway 1984-91, succeeded by Ruth Hoffman. The choir and orchestra have been heard on CBC radio; their regular venues in 1991 were Christ's Church Cathedral in Hamilton and Church of the Redeemer in Toronto. Birney-Smith remained artistic director in 1991.


Sault Symphony Orchestra, Sault Ste Marie; established in 1969 by Lajos Bornyi, who remained its conductor until 1978. Under the auspices of the Sault Ste Marie International Association, formed in 1974, the orchestra began to include among its ca 35 members residents of Sault, Mich. In 1978 John Wilkinson of the US city succeeded Bornyi as conductor and continued in that position in 1991. In 1991 the orchestra had a 3-player professional core and performed 5 concerts annually. It has performed with the Algoma Chamber Singers and the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra.

North York

North York Symphony; established in 1970 in the borough of North York (Toronto). Originally 20 members, the orchestra played its annual six-concert series in Minkler Auditorium, Seneca College. It moved to the Leah Posluns Theatre in 1991. By then the orchestra had grown to 85 members including 11 professional players, giving an annual series of seven pairs of concerts. Walter Babiak, the orchestra's first conductor, was succeeded by Voltr Ivonoffski. William McCauley held the position 1973-88. Under McCauley an affiliated group of 60 amateur players, the North York Repertory Ensemble, was formed in 1975. The North York Philharmonic, another affiliate group of 40 professional players with Steven Staryk as concertmaster, gave a series of four children's concerts in 1978 under McCauley's direction. Kerry Stratton succeeded McCauley in 1988. The North York Symphony Youth Orchestra was founded in 1989 by Jan Szot. For its 20th anniversary, in 1990 the North York Symphony gave a concert in Roy Thomson Hall with Eugene Fodor as soloist. The orchestra became fully professional in 2001, by which year it had adopted the name Toronto Philharmonia.

McGrath, Paul. '... and some surprises from the amateur orchestra,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 5 Feb 1977

Vyhanak, Carola. 'They're playing for love, not money,' Toronto Sunday Star, 4 Nov 1984

Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay Symphony, Owen Sound; established as the Georgian Bay Community Orchestra in 1972 for amateur musicians in the counties of Grey and Bruce. Its 45 members have presented an annual 5-concert series in Owen Sound; performances have also been given in other towns in the area. Conductors have included Hermon Dilmore, James White, Eric Woodward, Jerome Summers, Erna Van Daele, Kerry Stratton, and, beginning in 1990, Clyde Mitchell. In the latter 1970s the symphony operated the Georgian Bay Junior Orchestra; it also established a co-op education training program in which 15 music students from Grey and Bruce counties participated in 1990.

Sunderland, Leigh. 'Georgian Bay Symphony is on the move,' Owen Sound Sun Times, 29 Sep 1984


Mississauga Symphony Orchestra; 40-member community orchestra established in 1972 with a grant from the city of Mississauga. By 1989 it had 80 players, 8 of them professional, and presented 5 symphony concerts and 2 children's concerts a season. Boyd Neel, the founding conductor, was succeeded in 1978 by John Barnum, who retained the position in 1991. The Mississauga Sinfonia Chamber Ensemble, a 15-member string orchestra of professional players established in 1986 and also conducted by Barnum, gave a 5-concert series in 1989-90.

O'Toole, Lawrence. 'Symphony on a shoestring - playing just for the love of it,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 19 Nov 1977

Nunan, Jo. A Noteworthy Decade: A Biographical Essay on the First 10 Years of the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra (Mississauga [1981])


Windsor Community Orchestra; amateur ensemble founded in 1972 as the University of Windsor Orchestra, which changed its name in 1983. Trumpeter and founding conductor James J. Tamburini continued to lead the orchestra in 1991. Its 45-50 players have presented 4 to 5 concerts annually in various halls and churches in Windsor. The orchestra has presented children's concerts, featured local soloists, and has performed with the Windsor Community Choir, the International Youth Orchestra, and the Windsor City Ballet Company.

Woodstock Strings

Woodstock Strings; established in 1972 by a dozen local musicians (mainly amateurs from the London-Kitchener-Woodstock area) and conducted by Raymond Neal. By 1977 the ensemble had 30 members and a core of professional section leaders. Patrick Burroughs became conductor in 1977, a position he retained in 1990. The ensemble has presented a 4-concert annual series and has commissioned works by Gary Kulesha, Andrew Twa, and Peter Paul Koprowski.


Fanshawe Community Orchestra, London; established in 1973 under the auspices of Fanshawe College. Orchestra members include teachers and students at the college and local amateur musicians. Successors to founding conductor Bruce Richardson have been Ivars Taurins and Erna Van Daele, who continued to lead the ensemble in 1991. In that year the orchestra was presenting 4 concerts annually.

Symphony Hamilton

Symphony Hamilton; community orchestra of 65-75 players (50-60 amateurs and students, 7-8 professional section leaders, and 4-10 other professional players as required) founded by Lee Hepner as the McMaster Symphony in 1973. It was allied with McMaster University as a campus-community orchestra until 1988, after which the orchestra changed its name. Its annual performance schedule has typically included a main series of 5 concerts (some with guest soloists), 3 to 6 chamber orchestra concerts by the McMaster Symphony Chamber Players and, beginning in 1989, 2 to 5 school concerts. It has performed several Canadian works, and - as the McMaster Symphony Orchestra - commissioned and premiered works by Sasha Weinstangel, Hugh Hartwell, and William Wallace. Conductors after Hepner's death in 1986 have included Matthew Airhart 1986-8, Roberto De Clara 1988-91, succeeded by Clyde Mitchell. The orchestra's regular venues have been the Mohawk College Theatre, Hamilton Place, and the Cathedral of Christ the King. It has also performed on occasion in Toronto, Oakville, St Catharines, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. In 1991 the orchestra began a junior and senior concerto competition for young performers. The orchestra has performed with the Mohawk College Singers on many occasions and has also performed with McMaster University's choir and concert band, the Hamilton Ballet School, and the Hamilton Children's Choir.


Nepean Symphony Orchestra, Nepean (Ottawa); 35 members; established in 1974 by James Wegg, who continued to conduct it in 1991. It gave 5 to 6 annual series concerts at Sir Robert Borden High School 1974-88 and at Nepean's Centrepointe Theatre 1988-91. The orchestra recorded frequently for local CBC radio in the late 1970s. It began a summer music camp in 1974, a music school in 1980, the Canadian Composers' Forum - an annual concert of new works for orchestra - in 1984, and annual performances with the Savoy Society of Ottawa in 1986. It has performed in Deep River and other neighbouring communities, and has given some 40 school concerts annually. Its 1991-2 series concerts were cancelled pending reorganization and renewed financial support.

Sir Ernest MacMillan

Sir Ernest MacMillan String Ensemble, Hamilton; 11- player ensemble active 1974-7 and revived in 1980; led by Marta Hidy. It has presented some 4 concerts annually, some with guest soloists. In 1991 its regular performing venue was the Hamilton Place Studio Theatre.


Sudbury Symphony Orchestra; established in 1975 by Metro Kozak with a nucleus of musicians who had been members of the orchestra of the Sudbury Philharmonic Society conducted 1962-73 by Eric Woodward. (A Sudbury orchestra, founded by Emil First in 1953, had amalgamated with the Philharmonic Society in 1962.) In 1990 the Sudbury SO was made up of 50 players - amateur, student, and two professional - and had an annual series of five subscription concerts and two children's concerts. Stephen van Heerden succeeded Kozak as conductor in 1979; Kozak resumed the position in 1980 and retained it in 1991. The orchestra became part of the OAC's core players program in 1987.

'Sudbury Philharmonic Society,' CanComp, 32, Sep 1968

Tanner, Martha. 'Hearing is believing,' Sudbury Star, 31 Aug 1990

North Bay

North Bay Symphony Orchestra; established in 1977. Conductors have been Robert Ryker1977-8, Stephen van Heerden 1978-80, John Beaton 1980-2, and Nurhan Arman from 1982 until the end of the 1991-2 season. Composed of amateur musicians drawn from North Bay and the surrounding area, the orchestra engaged a professional concertmaster in 1987 as part of the OAC's core player program. In the 1990-1 season the orchestra offered 8 concerts, 3 by the Northern Sinfonia - a professional chamber orchestra with principal players from North Bay and others imported. Most concerts have featured guest soloists. The North Bay Arts Centre, formerly the Capitol Theatre (North Bay) and renovated in 1985, has been the orchestra's principal venue. The orchestra participated in the Northern Music Festival. Members of the orchestra have also given school demonstrations and lessons in surrounding communities such as Mattawa, Sturgeon Falls, and South River.


Northumberland Symphony Orchestra; it began in 1977 as a string orchestra for students in the Cobourg-Port Hope area but soon thereafter became a community orchestra for players of all ages. Under Philip Schaus the orchestra has performed with the 60-voice Northumberland Choral Society in Christmas and pops concerts, often with local soloists. In 1990 the orchestra's regular venue was Port Hope Trinity United Church, where it presented six concerts per season. In 1984 it was the subject of the TVOntario-Rhombus Media documentary 'Making Overtures'. Matthew (Maciej) Jaskiewicz succeeded Schaus in 1990.

'Making overtures,' OCan, vol 11, Nov 1984

Toronto Chinese Philharmonic

Toronto Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra; community orchestra founded in Toronto in 1977 as the 20-member Toronto Chinese Chamber Orchestra under the conductor Tak-Ng Lai. Renamed in 1990 to reflect its 60 members, the orchestra has presented works by Milton Barnes, Lothar Klein, and William Wallace, and by composers of Chinese-Canadian heritage, including Ka Nin Chan, An-lun Huang, and Hope Lee. The orchestra has given 3 to 4 concerts annually, has presented chamber concerts featuring Chinese performers and has performed with the Chinese Canadian Choir of Toronto. It established the Toronto Chinese Youth Orchestra in 1985.


Kitchener-Waterloo Community Orchestra; 50-member amateur group founded in 1979 by the conductor Erna Van Daele (succeeded in 1985 by Edit Haboczki). The orchestra has presented three concerts annually and has performed in city parks in the summer. It held a piano concerto competition for students in 1984 and in that year also premiered Douglas Bauman's March and Trio.

Durichen, Pauline. 'Orchestra for amateurs on the books,' Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 8 Jan 1990

Mozart Chamber Orchestra

Mozart Chamber Orchestra, Burlington; begun in 1979 with 18 players by founding conductor Siegfried Tepper, who continued to lead it in 1991. Among its players have been members of the Hamilton Philharmonic and the TS. In 1990 the ensemble presented a mix of repertoire for small chamber groups and for small orchestra in high schools and in a five-concert series at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington.

Gee, Ken. 'Burlington chamber orchestra debuts Oct 11,' Hamilton Spectator, 6 Oct 1979


Timmins Symphony Orchestra; amateur orchestra formed in 1979; 55 members in 1991. Conductors have been Emil First 1979-85 and Roy Takayesu 1985-90, succeeded by Geoffrey James Lee, also a cellist and head of the orchesta's string program. The orchestra has annually presented a four-concert series, occasionally using imported players and guest soloists. It has performed in neighbouring communities and has collaborated with the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Choral Society. In 1991 its regular venue was the École secondaire Theriault.


Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, Toronto; orchestra of 14 to 19 professional players founded and conducted by George Zaduban and active 1980-6. It presented four series concerts annually, some with guest soloists. The orchestra, whose concerts were held at St Elizabeth's Church in downtown Toronto, performed with that church's choir and with the Harmony Choir, the latter an associate group also conducted by Zaduban and which remained active in 1991.


Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, Scarborough (Toronto); established in 1980 by Clifford Poole as a community orchestra, but which has as members both professional and non-professional players. It gave its first concert 8 Nov 1980, and had a budget of $13,000 for its first season, which was more than quadrupled the following year. Its first concerts were given at Midland Collegiate. Poole was dismissed in 1985; most of the 65 members resigned to form the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra. The Scarborough Philharmonic then reorganized, and Christopher Kitts conducted it 1985-93. Under Kitts, a core of professional string players was engaged, the orchestra played at Roy Thomson Hall, and concerts were moved to the larger Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute. Véronique Lacroix became principal conductor 1994-6. Her tenure included the Canadian premiere of Liszt's De Profundis 26 Nov 1994, and the addition of an educational concert series in 1995-6.

Howard Cable became principal pops conductor in 1996. In 1999 a Summer Symphony concert series was begun in addition to the normal five-concert season. The following have also led the orchestra as artistic advisor or principal conductor: Fraser Jackson 1996-8; Jerome David Summers 1998-2004; Rennie Regehr 2004-6; and John Barnum, who took over in 2006. In 2000 the orchestra's budget was $240,000.

Guest conductors of the Scarborough Philharmonic have included Don Shute and Daniel Swift; among the many guest artists have been Philip Candelaria, Mary Lou Fallis, Lorand Fenyves, Moe Koffman, Lois Marshall and Patricia Parr. The orchestra has also performed with Toronto-area ensembles such as the Amadeus Choir. A composer-in-residence program has supported compositions by Ka Nin Chan 1999, Omar Daniel 2000-1, and Ronald Royer 2004-5. The orchestra frequently programs Canadian works, by such composers as Murray Adaskin, John Estacio, Alice Ho, Godfrey Ridout and John Weinzweig.

Toronto Pops

Toronto Pops Orchestra; it was formed in 1980 by Ralph Cruickshank of Berandol Music to record 'Ralph Cruikshank and the Toronto Pops Orchestra' (BER 10055), which featured compositions by Cruickshank. From 1983 to 1991, under conductor Norman Reintamm, it gave four to six concerts annually at Massey Hall. Most concerts featured guest artists.

Hume, Christopher. 'Bravo profile,' Bravo, Vol 5, May-Jun 1987

Concert Players

Concert Players Orchestra, London; ensemble of ca 50 professional players formed in 1983 to accompany the London Fanshawe Symphonic Chorus, conducted by Gerald Fagan. Concertmaster in 1990 was Robert Skelton.

Ontario Place

Ontario Place Pops Orchestra; founded in Toronto in 1983 by Boris Brott with assistance from the province of Ontario. Comprised of players from the Hamilton Philharmonic, Kitchener-Waterloo SO, Orchestra London and freelancers in southwestern Ontario, the orchestra has annually given 5 to 8 pops concerts, most with guest artists, in June and July at the Ontario Place Forum.

Cathedral Bluffs

Cathedral Bluffs Symphony; Scarborough (Toronto); amateur orchestra formed in 1985 by former members of the Scarborough Philharmonic. Its 60-65 players, led by founding conductor Clifford Poole in 1991, have given 5 annual concerts at the auditorium of Midland Avenue Collegiate Institute, most with guest soloists. The orchestra has also given two annual family concerts at the Scarborough Civic Centre in which students have been featured as soloists. It has performed with the Scarborough Choral Society, the Scarborough Youth Choir, and the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Toronto. It has annually awarded the Margaret Parsons Poole Award and, in conjunction with the RCMT, an award in which a RCMT music student has performed as soloist with the orchestra.


Oakville Chamber Ensemble; string chamber orchestra of 20 members - amateur, student, and professional players (of the latter some have been TS members) - formed in 1985 by violist John Knauer and cellist Sharon Knauer. Conductors have been Jeffry Mason 1986-90 and, beginning in 1990, Anne Reesor. The orchestra's regular venue has been Central Baptist Church in Oakville, where it has annually presented two concerts, some with guest soloists. It premiered Michael Conway Baker's Reflections on a Lost Dream in 1990.


Brampton Symphony Orchestra; formed in 1986. It had some 40 members in 1991, 6 of whom were professional principal players and the remainder students and amateurs. The orchestra has given 3 to 4 concerts per season, some with guest soloists. Its regular venue in 1991 was the Heritage Theatre in Brampton. Conductors have included Andrew Rozbicki 1986-91, Andrew Dittgen, and Stephen Riches. It premiered Paul Pacanowski's Baron R. Augley's State Visit to Bramalea Woods and Vicinity (1990) for jazz quartet and orchestra.

Toronto Sinfonietta

Toronto Sinfonietta; chamber orchestra comprised of professional players and operated by the Polish Canadian Society of Music (see Poland). Formed as the Musica Antiqua Chamber Orchestra in 1986 under founding conductor Matthew (Maciej) Jaskiewicz, it changed its name in 1990. The orchestra's 16 core string players are augmented by up to 25 as repertoire demands and perform 4 to 6 concerts annually in Toronto. The orchestra has also appeared in Hamilton, Mississaugua, and Peterborough. Its repertoire has included standard classical works and works by Polish composers. It has performed with the Musica Antiqua Chamber Choir and Ryerson Polytechnical Institute's Oakham House Choir. With the former choir in November 1990 the orchestra made a cassette recording (WRC4-6485) of Marcin Józef Zebrowski's Magnificat and Polish Christmas carols arranged by Jaskiewicz. The orchestra's principal venues have been the Church of the Redeemer, Holy Trinity Church, and Christ Church Deer Park.

Lyra Borealis

Lyra Borealis; string chamber orchestra of 15-19 professional players founded in 1987 as the Toronto Estonian Chamber Orchestra and which gave concerts until 1991; operated under the auspices of the Lyra Borealis Music Foundation. Conductors were Norman Reintamm, Viljar Puu-Weimann, and Paavo Järvi. It gave 4 to 6 concerts annually and performed works by composers of Estonian and Estonian-Canadian heritage, including Lembit Avesson, Jan Jarvlepp, Udo Kasemets, Elma Miller, and Roman Toi.


La Sinfonia, orchestre chambre de Sainte-Foy. Begun in 1963 by Irénée Lemieux as a string chamber ensemble to accompany the Choeur v'la l'bon vent. By 1965 there were 15 players and in 1967, on receiving support from the city of Ste-Foy, the orchestra took its present name. There were some 30 members in 1990; wind players have been added as required. The orchestra's repertoire has included rarely heard baroque, classical, and contemporary works. It recorded Omer Létourneau'sDance rustique, Henri Gagnon's Chanson d'été, and Lemieux's L'été des Indiens. (CRI-8115, 1982), has participated in the Festival d'été international de Québec and has performed operas by Mozart, Gluck, and Pergolesi with the Opéra de Ste-Foy. By 1990 La Sinfonia was presenting some 12 concerts per season.

Lacroix, Georgette. La Sinfonia - 25 ans de musique (Quebec 1988)


Orchestre symphonique de Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean; formed in 1978. It consists of ca 50 musicians under conductor Jacques Clément and gives concerts in various communities in the region. A chamber orchestra conducted by the violinist Jean-François Rivest became a component part of the orchestra in 1986, and has supplied the core string players and provided for a more varied repertoire. By agreement with the Chicoutimi Cons, advanced students from the conservatory have performed in the orchestra.


Orchestre de chambre de Hull; ca 20-member string orchestra, augmented by up to 13 winds as required, begun in 1983 as the Orchestre de chambre de l'Outaouais and conducted by Yvon Pépin, succeeded by Paul André Boivin in 1988 and Louis Lavigeur in 1990. Many of its concerts have been heard on local CBC radio and TV. The orchestra cancelled its 1990-1 season for financial reasons but offered a three-concert series 1991-2. Some concerts have been repeated in the surrounding regions of Gatineau, Aylmer, Orléans, Hawkesbury, and Laval. The orchestra has regularly featured students from the Cons de Hull as soloists and established its own choir of 70 voices, directed by Charles Dupuis (succeeded by Claude Belisle in 1988).


Orchestre symphonique de Joliette-Lanaudière; formed in 1984. The orchestra performs mainly in the Lanaudière region. It was conducted 1984-7 by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, then after a year's hiatus, it resumed activities in 1988 under the direction of Véronique Lacroix.


Orchestre symphonique de Laval; formed in 1984 as the Philharmonie de Laval. Conductors have been Gilbert Patenaude 1985-7 and Marc Fortier 1987-8, succeeded by Paul André Boivin in 1988. In 1987 the orchestra was invited by the Conseil des arts de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal to inaugurate the 20th anniversary celebrations for Terre des hommes. A chamber orchestra of ca 20 musicians was formed in 1989. It has played in the Maison des arts in Laval and in various churches and concert halls in the Laval region.

Ensemble Amati

Ensemble Amati; formed in 1985 as the Ensemble de chambre des Laurentides under conductor Raymond Dessaints. It adopted the present name in 1988, in which year Jacques Lacombe was named assistant conductor. The ensemble consists of 15 musicians who are either graduates of or teachers at the CMM. It has made two recordings: one with the trombonist Alain Trudel in 1987 (SNE 536), and a CD with the violinists Johanne Arel, Marie-Josée Arpin, and Élaine Marcil in 1988 (SNE 544).

Longueuil (Montérégie)

Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil (originally Orchestra symphonique de la Montérégie); formed in 1986 by conductor Jean-Pierre Brunet, Natalie Cadotte, Francis Ouellet, and Gilles Plante. The orchestra consists of 50 professional musicians from all parts of Quebec, with a mission to promote classical music in the Montérégie area. Its first performance was 1 Oct 1986, at L'Eglise Saint-Antoine de Longueuil. From six concerts in its 1986-7 season, the orchestra expanded to 20 performances by 1995-6. Concerts are played throughout the Montérégie area, eg, in Saint-Jean, La Prairie, Saint-Hyacinthe, Sorel, Granby, and Valleyfield; main concerts have been performed in Longueuil at the Collège Édouard-Montpetit, and later at the Théâtre de la Ville de Longueuil. It gave its first Montreal concert 13 May 1987 at Saint-Jean-Baptiste church, and played at the Lanaudière Festival 30 Jul 2006. Education and school concerts have always formed an important part of its mandate.

Marc David became conductor in 1994. In 1999 the orchestra launched the Portée pedagogique series for students. In 2001, a chamber orchestra was formed. On 3 Aug 2003 the orchestra became known as L'Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil, with an annual contract with the city of Longueuil. In the 2000s the orchestra has generally performed four concerts per season in Longueuil plus chamber and runout performances.


Orchestre symphonique régional d'Abitibi-Témiscamingue; regional orchestra of some 45 members founded in 1986 by conductor Jacques Marchand and which gave its first concert in 1987. It has been supported by a consortium of six regional firms - an orchestra-sponsorship arrangement perhaps unique in Canada in 1991. It has given an annual touring program of classical and popular repertoire; by 1990 it had made 3 regional tours with performances in Amos, Macamic, Rouyn-Noranda, and Val d'Or. The orchestra has premiered works by Marchand and commissioned James Dowdy's Quatre Mouvements pour orgue et Orchestra in 1989.


Orchestre symphonique de Mont-Royal; formed in 1987 by its conductor Jacques Faubert. It consists of about 50 young professional musicians. Fernand Graton was assistant conductor 1987-90. The orchestra gives an average of six concerts each year in the Montreal area.

Orchestre Baroque de Montréal

Orchestre Baroque de Montréal; 15-30-member chamber orchestra founded in 1989 and led from the harpsichord by Joël Thiffault. It originated in 1984 from various chamber ensembles led by Thiffault. Specializing in baroque and classical repertoire, often with period instruments, the orchestra has given 6 to 7 concerts annually and in 1989 and 1990 appeared in festivals in France. It has performed on CBC radio.


Orchestre de chambre de l'Estrie; founded in 1989 as the Orchestre de chambre de Sherbrooke.with about 20 professional musicians. Marc David became conductor and Mary O'Keefe administrator. In 1991 the orchestra commissioned Trois fois passera by Isabelle Panneton and also commemorated the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart in a concert with violinist Chantal Juillet. Also in 1991, it toured the Estrie region under the aegis of the Orford Art Centre. Rachel Lussier wrote of the ensemble that 'In less than two years of existence, the Orchestre de chambre de l'Estrie has comfortably taken root, proving its professionalism in every instance, combined with an uncommon degree of dynamism,' (Sherbrooke La Tribune, 4 May 1990).

Saint John

Saint John Symphony Orchestra; preceeded by an amateur orchestra of the same name founded in 1950 under Kelsey Jones (subsequent conductors included the violinist Bruce E. Holder, the cellist Adolf Krack, and Janis Kalnins) and superseded in 1962 by the New Brunswick SO. The second Saint John SO was begun in 1984 as an amateur community orchestra based in Saint John and in 1987 it hired a string quartet as its professional core. In its first season it gave 2 concerts in Saint John and one in Moncton; by the 1990-1 season its 45-55 members, including 4 to 10 extra professional players as required, performed 5 concerts in Saint John and occasionally performed concerts in Moncton and Fredericton. It has performed in the auditorium of Saint John High School, but planned to use the renovated Saint John's Imperial Theatre, when completed. Conductors have been Robert McCausland 1984-6 and Charles Willett 1986-7, succeeded in 1987 by Nurhan Arman. It has operated under the auspices of Symphony New Brunswick.

Biermann, Helmer. 'Symphony begun in 1950,' Saint John Evening Times-Globe, 10 Oct 1989

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra, Saint John. Ensemble of up to 19 professional players formed in 1989 and operated under the auspices of Symphony New Brunswick. It has performed 3 concerts annually in Saint John and has also performed in Moncton and Fredericton.

Symphony New Brunswick

Symphony New Brunswick; an umbrella organization which in 1991 operated the Saint John SO, the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra, and the Saint John String Quartet. It began as the Saint John Symphony, Inc in 1984, two years after the Atlantic SO's demise. It changed its name in 1990.

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