Guest Blog: A Benefit for Kerry Stratton

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. Join us and give back to one who has given so much to us.

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.

Meet Cheryl McCallum

Cheryl McCallum imageCheryl is currently the Manager of Community Sport Development at Sask Sport Inc. and resides in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She oversees a number of projects using a community-based approach that has been effective in contributing to health and well-being in communities throughout Saskatchewan. She joined the Orchestras Canada board in June, 2018 and is currently a member of our Governance Committee, and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Committee.

Cheryl came to be involved in the Canadian orchestral scene through being part of an advisory committee that works with the Regina Symphony Orchestra to prioritize diversity in the orchestra’s mandate. This volunteer committee and the RSO are currently working closely with Indigenous communities throughout Southern Saskatchewan. “It has certainly been a value to me to be a part of an orchestral community with the intent to bridge the gaps that can create an inclusive organization,” Cheryl says.

With more than twenty years of experience in both the corporate and non-profit sectors, Cheryl’s work has allowed her to “support strategies that intentionally gauge collaboration amongst diverse individuals. This is something that can certainly be applied to Orchestras Canada and the diverse range of communities that it serves.” Cheryl is passionate about developing community through sport, culture and recreation, and sees opportunities in the way that each of these endeavours bring people together to celebrate diversity. She also believes that OC has the opportunity to provide a foundation to orchestras that will ensure that they create an inclusive environment for the diverse communities that they serve. We are very fortunate to have Cheryl join our busy, hard-working and talented board of directors, and are thrilled to have her experience and track record of success at the board table.

Introducing: Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser

Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser comes to the Orchestras Canada board from a varied career as a music director, performer and music educator. He is currently the Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador with Symphony Nova Scotia, conducting ballet, pops, family and outreach concerts with the orchestra. Prior to this he also held assistant positions with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. We had the pleasure of speaking with Daniel recently to talk about his experience, and some of the challenges Canadian Orchestras are currently facing.

How did you come to be involved with Orchestras Canada?

I had just finished a conducting workshop in Winnipeg and was preparing to go back to my wonderful job teaching… and yet and yet. I knew that I wanted to conduct professionally. I was somewhat flummoxed. One of the contacts I made was an agent in New York. I emailed him and asked him how to get started. He said: “Do you know about Orchestras Canada?” I replied that, sadly, I didn’t, and he said “That’s where you go to find jobs in Canada”. I went to the Orchestras Canada website, clicked on “Jobs” and, days later, applied for what would become my first professional conducting job. Now, years later, it is my pleasure to serve on the Board of Orchestras Canada, linking Orchestras across our country with their audiences, communities and each other.

How has your background as a conductor prepared you for serving on the Orchestras Canada board of directors?

As a Conductor, I regularly transit multiple worlds, those of administration, artist and audience. I work on behalf of the people in these areas, often negotiating between them, meaning I have become intimately acquainted with their unique needs and perspectives. This awareness of the realities transpiring in the office, on the stage and in the lobby and the daily work of bringing them all together gives me an excellent standpoint from which to serve Canadian orchestras through Orchestras Canada.

What do you see as some of the major challenges presently facing Canadian orchestras?

We have tremendous opportunity ahead of us; people are re-valuing group and communal social experiences as a respite from the solitude often imposed by technology. Nevertheless, they expect technology to be essentially integrated into entertainment experiences both in terms of content and form. This requires a shift.

Additionally, the opportunity represented by growing awareness and desire for diversity bring us to the cusp of an almost revolutionary change in content, in the way we do collaboration, and in orchestral culture. These are incredibly exciting times and I am thrilled to be serving with Orchestras Canada, helping orchestras chart the course forward!

 

Orchestras Canada selects VSO Music Director Bramwell Tovey for Betty Webster Award 2018

The award recognizes Tovey’s long history of leadership in the Canadian orchestral community

Photo, Bramwell ToveyBramwell Tovey is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2018. Maestro Tovey will receive the award at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s June 30th outdoor concert, the first of three performances at the Olympic Plaza on the Canada Day long weekend. The annual appearances of the VSO and the Whistler Institute Orchestra are presented by the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Province of British Columbia.

The Betty Webster Award is presented each year to an individual or organization that has made a sustained and significant contribution over a number of years to the Canadian orchestral community, with an emphasis on leadership, education and volunteerism. It was established in 2002 to honour Orchestras Canada’s founding Executive Director and is a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s visionary leadership and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of orchestras right across Canada.

Bramwell Tovey is concluding his tenure as the Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra he has led since 2000. In this time, he was relentless in his pursuit of excellence for the orchestra, programming works that would challenge, engage and inspire the musicians and the audience. His trademark charisma and charm, as well as his willingness to conduct a wide range of concerts (from classical to pops to education) have seen the VSO attract new audiences and retain a loyal following among the concert-going public of Vancouver. Tovey also takes an active role in the education initiatives of the VSO. He currently serves as the Artistic Advisor to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler and was a driving force behind the 2011 opening of the VSO School of Music.

Before his arrival at the VSO, Maestro Tovey was the Music Director at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for 12 years, where he started the Winnipeg New Music Festival. Between his appointments with the WSO and the VSO, he has dedicated almost 30 years to the advancement of orchestras and symphonic music in Canada. Throughout that time, he has been committed to promoting Canadian artists and composers and has demonstrated his belief in music accessibility for all. Alongside those appointments, Tovey served as for 11 seasons as conductor and host of the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics and has as held titled positions with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the LA Philharmonic at Hollywood Bowl, and guest conducted across Canada, the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. He now serves as Director of Orchestral and Conducting Studies at Boston University, and is the Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Photo, Betty WebsterThe national jury was chaired by Waterloo-based conductor Matthew Jones (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, Etobicoke Philharmonic), and included arts manager Ardyth Brott (Brott Music Festival/National Academy Orchestra—and winner of the 2017 Betty Webster Award), conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser (Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador, Symphony Nova Scotia), arts manager Margot Holmes (Vancouver Island Symphony and Caline Arts Management), and violinist Adriana Lebedovich (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra).

Speaking about the Award, jury chair Matthew Jones noted, “Once again, the Betty Webster Award jury was greatly impressed by the thoughtful and powerful work being accomplished by individuals and organizations across Canada. The jury was particularly inspired by the impact Bramwell Tovey has had on the cultural landscape of British Columbia, Manitoba and, indeed, all of Canada. It is an honour for us to be able to recognize Maestro Tovey’s commitment to excellence, leadership on and off the podium, advocacy on behalf of music and musicians, volunteerism, and sustained commitment to music education at the VSO School of Music and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler.”

In response to the award, Bramwell Tovey said, “I’m deeply honoured to receive the Betty Webster award from Orchestras Canada. Betty Webster was a remarkable woman whose tireless devotion to Canadian orchestras was inspirational. I was lucky enough to fall within her orbit on arriving in Canada in 1989 and to be one of her legion of friends and supporters. I’d particularly like to pay tribute to the orchestra musicians with whom I’ve worked most closely in Vancouver and Winnipeg these last thirty years. It’s been a privilege and honour to make music with them all. Sincere thanks to Orchestras Canada for this award and for continuing to represent Canada’s wonderful orchestras across the country.”

Other recent winners of the Betty Webster Award include arts managers John Gomez in 2016 (Music Director, Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy), Annemarie Petrov in 2014 (President & CEO, Edmonton Symphony), and Jeff Alexander in 2009 (former President & CEO, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), double bassist Alison Mackay in 2013 (Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra), and several organizations such as Tafelmusik (2009), the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (2008) and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (2007).

Driving Creative Force for Music in Canada Wins National Award

Ardyth BrottArdyth Brott, Executive Director for the Brott Music Festival, is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2017.

Ms Brott will receive the Award at a Brott Music Festival concert during the 2017 festival.

The Betty Webster Award is presented each year to one individual or organization that has made a sustained and significant contribution over a number of years to the Canadian orchestral community, with an emphasis on leadership, education and volunteerism. It was established in 2002 to honour Orchestras Canada’s founding Executive Director, and is a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s visionary leadership and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of Canada’s orchestral community.

The award includes a plaque along with a donation to an orchestra of the winner’s choosing.

Ms Brott has asked that this year’s donation be directed to the Hamilton-based National Academy Orchestra, an organization with a 29-year track record of training emerging professional orchestral musicians through intensive work with guest concertmasters and mentors from across the country, guest conductors, and internationally-renowned soloists, and performance opportunities ranging from full orchestra to opera to chamber music. To date, over 1400 young musicians have graduated from the NAO, and many of them are now working throughout Canada and around the world.

Ardyth Brott has served as Executive Director of the Brott Music Festival 30 years, and the National Academy Orchestra for 29 years. A graduate of Western University’s Faculty of Law, she was called to the Ontario Bar in 1995; in addition, she is a best-selling author of children’s books (including the musically-inspired “Jeremy’s Decision”, “The Loneliest Piano”, and “Pepe’s Magic Bow”), and a valued community volunteer (serving in key roles at the Hamilton Club, and the National Gallery of Canada, among others). She has applied her literary gifts to the creation of scripts for ground-breaking music education programs (including “Beethoven and the Bully”, “Isabella Tarantella”, and “The Inuit Spirit”), connecting contemporary issues and orchestral music through story-telling.

Coincidentally, Ardyth Brott is the daughter of Betty Webster. Although she was as surprised as Ardyth was to hear the news, Betty of course is absolutely delighted!

This year’s national jury was chaired by Waterloo-based conductor Matthew Jones (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra), and included Vancouver arts manager Leanne Davis (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Ottawa violinist, conductor, educator (and 2016 winner of the Betty Webster Award) John Gomez (Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy), Montreal arts manager Barbara Scales (Latitude 45 Arts Management), and Charlottetown’s Bruce Craig (PEI Symphony Orchestra).

Speaking about the award, jury chair Matthew Jones said, “The jury saw Ardyth Brott as a prima inter pares: someone whose exceptional contributions to the Canadian orchestral community are seen most clearly in the context of the other remarkable individuals and organizations shaping Canada’s lively and diverse orchestral culture. The jury was struck by Ardyth’s depth of involvement in the organizations she has served, her sustained support for youth involvement in music, and the lasting impact her work has had for numerous generations of professional orchestral musicians in Canada and beyond. It is an honour to be able to acknowledge this work.”

Katherine Carleton appointed to the Order of Canada

Katherine Carleton, C.M.. with Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada,Katherine Carleton, Orchestras Canada’s executive director, has been appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada.  A respected arts manager and an accomplished musician, she has been at the helm of Orchestras Canada since 2005.  Before coming to Orchestras Canada, Ms. Carleton was executive director of the Kingston Symphony, the Nova Scotia Symphony and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. A passionate arts advocate, Katherine Carleton has garnered the respect of the orchestra industry across Canada and abroad.

With a degree in clarinet performance, Ms. Carleton has in the past worked as a musician, teacher, grants officer, and arts administrator. She still finds time to perform in small ensembles in Peterborough and Toronto. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto (Music) and McGill University (management).

“The Canadian orchestra community is proud of Katherine. The Order of Canada is a well-deserved recognition of the immense work she has done in defending, promoting and advocating for the arts and for orchestras from coast to coast,” said Gilles Choquet, president of the Board of Orchestras Canada / Orchestres Canada and executive director of l’Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil.

Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy Founder Wins National Award

John Gomez, founder and music director of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy (OYOA), is the winner of the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for 2016.  Mr. Gomez was the unanimous choice of a national jury.

Mr. Gomez will receive the Award at an OYOA event in the 2016-17 season.

The Betty Webster Award is presented each year to one individual or organization that has made a sustained and significant contribution over a number of years to the Canadian orchestral community, with an emphasis on leadership, education and volunteerism.  It was established in 2002 to honour Orchestras Canada’s founding Executive Director, and is a tribute to Mrs. Webster’s visionary leadership and her extraordinary contributions to the health and vitality of Canada’s orchestral community. The award includes a plaque along with a donation to an orchestra of the winner’s choosing.

Mr. Gomez has asked that this year’s donation be directed to the OYOA, to assist with the cost of lessons for beginning students of “rare” instruments of the orchestra, including bassoon, double bass, French horn, and harp.

John Gomez is entering his 35th year as founding Music Director of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy (OYOA) and conductor of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra, the academy’s flagship group.  He is an active leader in the Canadian orchestral scene who has dedicated his career to preparing young musicians for successful careers in music, and through his commitment to collaboration, has formed many partnerships in Ottawa, across Canada, and around the world.  He is an educator with a passion for teaching, and sets exceptionally high standards for himself and the young people he works with.  He is a visionary and a strategist, who has devoted countless hours to the cause of engaging young people in music, starting with a strings program in the early 1980s, and culminating in today’s OYOA:  a program that now boasts two full orchestras, and eighteen (nineteen next year) additional ensembles, made up of over 350 students who meet every Saturday morning to make music.

The national jury was chaired by Waterloo-based conductor Matthew Jones (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra), and included Edmonton arts leader Annemarie Petrov (Edmonton Symphony/Frances Winspear Centre for Music), Ontario-based solo bassoonist and teacher Nadina Mackie Jackson, Montreal musician and volunteer Louise Richard (Association des orchestres de jeunes du Québec), and Moncton’s Ken Macleod (New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and Sistema NB).

Speaking about the Award, jury chair Matthew Jones noted that “John Gomez’s win is all the more impressive considering the exceptional calibre of his fellow nominees, representing a cross section of the Canadian orchestral community: educators, conductors, managers, and individual musicians. The jury responded to the excellence of John’s work, his unstinting and sustained commitment to youth involvement in music, his leadership, and the impact that he’s clearly had on more than a generation of Canadian professional orchestral musicians.  It is an honour to be able to recognize this work.”