Guest blog post by Catriona Delaney at the Italian Canadian Symphony Orchestra
Maestro Kerry Stratton is our friend and a friend to classical music lovers across the nation, and internationally due to his incredible career. He is a household name in Toronto; in addition to being an extraordinary conductor, Kerry has been a broadcaster for three decades at the New Classical FM. For the last five years, Maestro Kerry has energetically lead the Symphony in the Gardens at Casa Loma every Tuesday night of the spring, summer, and early fall, playing to an audience of thousands each week, many of whom had never experienced the wonder of an orchestral performance. Kerry’s conducting is magnetic, energetic, fun, impassioned, and vigorous…the perfect foil to lure in unsuspecting and budding classical music lovers and they return, in droves.
In January 2018, Kerry slipped on the ice and broke his wrist. It didn’t heal, so tests followed. This was the slippery slope to a harrowing diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neuron disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. There is no cure; eighty percent of people with ALS succumb to the disease within two to five years. Despite this, Maestro Kerry, continued to conduct an entire season, adapting as ALS crept through his body and stripped him of the vigor we know so well.
In the course of his international career, Stratton has conducted orchestras in Europe, North America and Asia. In 2001, he became the first Canadian to conduct the St. Petersburg Camerata in the Hermitage Theatre at the Winter Palace. In 2004 he debuted with the Beijing Symphony at the Forbidden City. There is so much more to tell of his dedication to classical music. Kerry has regularly toured and guest conducted for orchestras internationally and speaks to wall-to-wall crowds because he has been gifted with the delightful ability to make the stories behind the music you love as entertaining as the music itself.
The real magic in Kerry lies in his witty, wickedly, knowledgeable mind, which ALS cannot affect. And so in his third iteration, Maestro Kerry, Artistic Director, will continue to program beautiful entertainment for as long as he is able.
Kerry is a devoted husband and father of three and this beautiful family needs quality time together. The Maestro’s Gala is a benefit concert at Casa Loma with such musical guests as Tenor, John McDermott. It will be an extraordinary event and we will surprise Maestro Kerry with some favorite pieces in a gorgeous, intimate setting while providing much needed support.
I am hurt but I am not slain.
I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile,
Then I’ll rise and fight again.
Kerry Stratton, final broadcast The Oasis, The New Classical FM.