Pop Up Festival aims to surprise you!

 The Guelph Symphony Orchestra’s Pop-Up Orchestra Festival continues today with a free concert at the Sleeman Centre.  Members of the  Symphony are mounting a series of free concerts, in imaginative, unexpected, and less formal settings, throughout our city, designed to engage, entertain and to be interactive as a way to give back to our community while building our audience. 

  • a pop up of the Barber of Seville in a Barbershop,
  • a children’s concert on Thursday at 11:30am at the Guelph Public library featuring a piece by Kurdish-Canadian composer, Nauroz Tanya, who next month will have this piece performed by the San Francisco Symphony
  • performances at the Sleeman Centre,
  • DanceTheatre David Earle,
  • U of G and the
  • Guelph Community Health Centre.
  • Bach’s Coffee Cantata in a coffee shop
  • Violin & Harpsichord  Virtuosi Edwin Huizinga and Elliot Figg at the Red Brick Cafe
  • The Festival launched on January 19th with An Afternoon of Wizardry at the Civic Museum.

All of these concerts are strategically designed to ignite the curiosity and wonder of casual audiences and passersby.  Giving people beautifully arranged music delivered with passion and panache has made the GSO one of the most successful regional orchestras.  Here’s a chance for everyone to hear them for free!

For a complete listing of concerts, visit https://guelphsymphony.com/pop-up/

 Get ready to be inspired!




David B. Knight’s Engaging Program Notes

Youngsters and the not so young— dare I say oldsters? — will enjoy this celebration by the GSO and its young musician friends as we look forward to sharing special times with family and friends and perhaps, too, exchanging presents. Music that speaks to the heart helps us to reflect on the meaning we gain from this time of the year, music that knows no bounds.


Leroy Anderson’s exiting Sleigh Ride will get us off to a wonderful start, as we are taken for a ride across the snow-covered landscape, with jingle bells ringing. This bubbly work is one of numerous light-hearted musical pleasantries that Anderson (1908-1975) composed, all made popular by the famous Boston Pops Orchestra.


Luther Henderson (1919-2003). An African American composer raised in Harlem, New York, he studied at the Julliard School of Music and became known as an arranger and orchestrator for such greats as Duke Ellington, Liza Minnelli, and Eartha Kitt, and for numerous Broadway productions. Also, he arranged over a hundred pieces for the Canadian Brass, including tunes for their popular recording, A Canadian Brass Christmas. We will hear a medley from that collection, adapted by the talented Calvin Custer, featuring Ding Dong! Merrily On High, I Saw Three Ships, The Huron Carol, and Here We Come A-Wassailing.


Next, another sleigh ride, this one composed by Sergei Prokoviev (1891-1953), namely, Troika, the most popular number in the Orchestral Suite that comes from the score Prokofiev wrote for the 1934 Soviet film “Lieutenant Kijé.” A ‘troika’ is a three-horse sleigh, so this music is often heard at Christmas time.


Children and their parents surely know or at least know of the delightful 2004 movie Polar Express, based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. It tells the story of a doubting young boy who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole where he discovers that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. The suite we will hear from the movie’s music by Alan Silvestri (1950-  ) includes Believe, co-written with Glen Ballard (1953-  ), that won Grammy and Golden Globe Awards.


Prepare to be astonished for Moses Fantasy by Niccolò Paganini offers us a magical exploration of what an excellent string player can achieve. Paganini (1782-1840), a brilliant and widely celebrated Italian violin virtuoso, performed what he composed, including the piece we are to hear today. Interestingly, it has been played on violin, on cello, and even on double bass. Based on a theme written by Rossini, this inventive composition makes huge demands on the performer—but not on you, the listener!


A Seasonal Celebration offered by Guelph’s Suzuki String School students will bring a special excitement to the stage as they perform with the GSO in a medley of Hanukkah and Christmas favourites.


Christmas Eve Suite (1904) by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) is drawn from the music for his opera, Christmas Eve (1895). Filled with wonderful colours and images, the five movement suite consists of the opera’s introduction (“Holy Night”), the Flight of Vakula, Moon and Stars, Polonaise, Return Flight of Vakula and Christmas Morning Bells.


Bob Krogstadt (1951-2015) focused on Christmas in many of his numerous heartwarming arrangements for orchestra (and, today, members of the Guelph Youth Symphony). One of them, The Bells of Christmas, will reprise for us some classic carols and holiday songs, notably, Ding Dong! Merrily on High, The Bell Carol, Silver Bells, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and Jingle Bells.


Thank you for a wonderful 18-19!


Saturday, April 27, 2019 | 7:30pm | River Run Centre

WAGNER – Prelude to Tristan und Isolde
DVORAK – Symphony No. 8
MARTINU- Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra
Guest Soloist violist LYNN SUE-A-QUAN (Under-23 GSO Concerto Winner)
Conductor – JUDITH YAN

GSO’s season finale features one of the most beloved works of the romantic repertoire, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8. Celebrated as “the most joyful of romantic symphonic repertoire”,
this work is a brilliant combination of beautiful tunes and genius symphonic construction. Also featured as the winner of the GSO Under-23 Concerto Competitions, violist Lynn Sue-A-Quan.

Earlier this Season

2018/2019 Season Opening Gala

Saturday, October 20, 2018 | 7:30 pm | River Run Centre

VERDI – La Forza Del Destino
TCHAIKOVSKY –Symphony No. 4
 BRUCH – Violin Concerto
Guest Conductor – MARK FEWER
GSO welcomes Guest Conductor, Mark Fewer! Mark Fewer has performed around the world to critical acclaim!

Holiday Classics with the GSO
From Baroque to Hollywood

Sunday, December 9, 2018 | 3pm | River Run Centre

Guest Soloists – Natania Fok (Piano – GSO Under-23 Concerto Winner)
                                     The Blundell Brass 
Guest Choir – Guelph Youth Singers (Director Markus Howard)
Featuring – Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra (Conductor Dylan Langan)
Conductor – JUDITH YAN


Tuesday, January 1, 2019 | 3pm | River Run Centre

STRAUSS and LEHAR Waltzes, Marches, Polkas
Guest Soloist – soprano SHARLEEN JOYNT
Guest Soloist – cellist LIVA COBURN
Conductor – JUDITH YAN

Start your new year with your favourite Viennese classics, with special guest, soprano SHARLEEN JOYNT.  Praised for her “silvery, sparkling, substantial and resonant soprano” (Die Deutsche Bühne), her “scintillating high range” (Opernwelt), and “an artistic command that leaves the listener breathless” (Deutschland Radio), this will be an unforgettable start to your 2019!

GSO POP UP Orchestra Festival Culminating Concert

Sunday, March 3, 2019 | 3pm | Harcourt United Church, 87 Dean Avenue

WAGNER – Siegfried Idyll (original setting)
VANHAL Concerto for 2 Bassoons
Soloists – bassoonists SIMION CIOBANU and KRISTIN DAY
MORLOCK-  Aeromancy for two cellos
A Thousand Years- Perry
Soloists- Mayor Cam & Rachel Guthrie
Conductor JUDITH YAN

The Guelph Symphony Orchestra presents the GSO POP UP Orchestra Festival. The
concert series will feature GSO musicians performing in landmark locations of our beloved City.
The culminating concert will feature Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll”, the famous musical dedication of devotion from Wagner to his wife, Cosima, after the birth of their son Siegfried in 1869.

Click here to read more


Sunday, April 7, 2019 | 3pm | Basilica Our Lady Immaculate

Soprano – Lida Szkwarek
Mezzo – Pascale Spinney
Tenor – Ryan Downey
Bass – Zachary Read
Organ Joe Carere
Conductor JUDITH YAN

With Special Guests: the University of Guelph Symphonic Choir (Dr. Marta McCarthy)

Ground-breaking at the time of its creation, Beethoven’s Mass in C is among “the most thrilling settings in the history of the Mass”, described by the composer himself as “heartfelt resignation, whence comes a deep sincerity of religious feeling”.
We are thrilled to once again share the stage with the wonderful University of Guelph Symphonic Choir, GSO favourite organist, Joe Carere, and returning guest soloists Lida Szkwarek, Pascale Spinney, Ryan Downey, and Zachary Read.

David Knight’s Finale Program Notes

Program Notes                                                          GSO Finale Concert, April 27th, 7:30pm, River Run Centre                
David B. Knight

Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isoldeby Richard Wagner (1813-1883). It is difficult to pick one’s favourite from Wagner thirteen operatic dramas, when the list includes Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Das Rheingold, Die Walküre,Siegfried, and Die Meistersinger, and Götterdämmerung.Nevertheless, one work stands out for its use of chromaticism and dissonance surprised many listeners when the work was first performed. Dealing with tragic love and desire, Tristan and Isoldeoffered unusual new music. Even Hector Berlioz, whose own Symphonie Fantastiquehad shocked many in 1830, was uncomfortable when he heard Wagner’s new work. Not so for every member of the audience at the first performance in Munich in1865. Significantly, many people were then, and others have been ever since, inspired by what Wagner wrote.

GSO Pop Up Orchestra Festival in full swing!

What’s a Pop-Up Orchestra Festival? In the month of February, members of the Guelph Symphony will mount a series of free concerts, in imaginative, unexpected and less formal settings, designed to engage, entertain and to be interactive.

The Festival will launch on Family Day weekend and culminate in a main series highlight concert, for our patrons, at Harcourt United Church, on March 3rd at 3pm.

The GSO Under 23 Concerto Results!

Finals for the Guelph Symphony Orchestra’s 2019  Under 23 Concerto Competition were held at the Guelph Youth Music Centre, on Sunday January 13th. Congratulations to violinist Emily Bosenius,  who will play a full concerto with us in the 2019-20 season and to our two runners-up, James David Conquer (saxophone) and Veronika Manchur (violinist)!

Special thanks to our charming Emcee, Jay Samuel and to our wonderful adjudicators, Pateris Zarins and GSO Concertmaster, Jose Molina.

Click here for more details.

New Year’s Day Contest

Congratulations to the five winners of the GSO’s New Year’s Day “Count the Lightning Strikes” Contest! How many times did the cymbals strike? 204. (Our first place winner guessed 202- impressive)!

1st A. Rauser

2nd (tie) A. Hug & A. Turner

4th J. Lefler Rosenberg

5th A. Margosian

GSO receives an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant

$18,700 OTF Grant Gives Elementary School Music Program a Lift

Guelph – On Friday, the River Run Centre welcomed members of the public to an Open Rehearsal and presentation ceremony. Local MPP Mike Schreiner and Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) volunteer Susan Leuty were on hand to congratulate the Guelph Symphony Orchestra on the work done after receiving an $18,700 OTF Seed grant this past June, and to hear more about how the new program is already making a difference in the community.

• Students will experience narrated, live music with musicians, in an intimate classroom setting, and up-close exploration of the Symphony’s “instrument petting zoo”.
• Students will acquire basic music skills through critical listening, theory fundamentals (melody, rhythm, harmony).
• Classroom sessions will serve as a stepping-stone to experiencing music in their community.
• Teacher training workshops will be a vital component of the program.
• For more information, please visit the website or Facebook page. Follow Guelph Symphony on Twitter @GuelphSymphony
• The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.


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