Thank you for the opportunity to serve the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra as Executive Director since September 2012. It has been a privilege to bring you wonderful concerts in the Great Hall at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) (just newly named FirstOntario Concert Hall), extraordinary ensemble performances around the community, and other important complementary activities and services expected of a professional arts organization.
In January, I move back to the private sector to begin working for a promotions and marketing agency in Mississauga. Diana Weir, who has worked with me since February 2013, is coming in as Executive Director, and I’m absolutely confident she will ensure the HPO remains healthy, strong and prosperous.
My departure is bittersweet: while I’m excited about my new adventure, I’m sad to be leaving this wonderful organization. Still, I’ll carry with me many special memories of patrons, donors, sponsors, funders, musicians, community and staff. Some highlights for me over the four years include:
- The chance to work with two gifted and exceptional music directors, James Sommerville and Gemma New. Both are international talents who have embraced Hamilton, providing real inspiration for the 31 members of the HPO core, all brilliant musicians in their own right. They are a special group of artists and we’re lucky to have them as a part of our arts community.
- Watching the HPO cello section’s eyebrows raise when Darth Vader walked onstage while they were performing in March 2015. We had sadly neglected to inform the musicians ahead of the concert that these special guests were going to surprise the audience by joining the orchestra onstage while they played: instead, the character actors also surprised the HPO players, but it was a testament to their professionalism that they didn’t miss a beat.
- Seeing the joy on the faces of four young secondary school students who heard their compositions played by HPO ensembles for the first time. In 2013 during our annual What Next festival of contemporary music, Abigail Richardson-Schulte — the HPO’s composer-in-residence and What Next artistic director — worked with four Grade 12 students who each composed works for a woodwind trio. Beautifully performed by Stephen Pierre, Leslie Newman and Melanie Eyers, the kids watched their creations come alive.
- Having the chance to work with so many great Hamilton musicians. I was thrilled we were able to present award-winning jazz artist Diana Panton in her first orchestra concert in February 2013; violinist Martin Beaver in April 2014; Abigail Richardson-Schulte’s The Hockey Sweater in December 2014; Canadian icon Ian Thomas in October 2015, not to mention all the exciting local indie bands who partner with the HPO when we carry out our Indie Series. And I’m so looking forward to Darcy Hepner’s A Hamilton Beatles Experience in February 2017.
- Finally, the countless hours each and every member of the HPO commits to ensuring the HPO’s success. This is a small but mighty organization that works because all members of the team believe in its mission and goals. From our stage manager to our personnel manager to the entire production and office teams, the Greater Hamilton Area benefits because of the small engine that works behind the scenes. I couldn’t be more proud of my colleagues, and I will miss them.