Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra - History


The Orchestra has a relatively short history, which began in 1910 with the founding of the First Calgary Symphony by violinist A.P. Howell. In 1947 the New Calgary Symphony was formed by Clayton Hare with members of the Mount Royal Orchestra and the previous Calgary Symphony.

In 1955, the Dutch conductor Henry Plukker created the Alberta Philharmonic, which in the same year merged with the Calgary Symphony. A new name, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra was chosen. Prelude, the orchestra's program magazine, began publication in October 1975 and continues to be their official concert programme. The Orchestra often features the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus, a chorus of over 100 members. On average the CPO performs over 65 concerts per season to over 100,000 people in Calgary and surrounding area.

In 2001, management of the orchestra initiated a lockout and salaries of the players were cut by an average of 20 percent. In 2002, the orchestra had declared bankruptcy. In 2003, the orchestra came out of receivership, and Mike Bregazzi became their CEO and president. He retired from these posts in 2005. Ann Lewis became the orchestra's next CEO.

The current music director of the orchestra is Roberto Minczuk, who was named to the post in July 2005. His initial contract was for 3 years, starting with the 2006-2007 season. Other members of the conducting staff are resident conductor Mélanie Léonard and chorus master Timothy Shantz. Ivars Taurins is Principal Baroque Conductor. Mario Bernardi is the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate and Hans Graf is Music Director Laureate. Czech-born violinist Cenek J. Vrba was concertmaster until 2011 when he retired. The new concertmaster starting with the 2012/13 season is Diana Cohen.

In 2010, Donovan Seidle, the orchestra's assistant concertmaster, drew international attention when he served as the associate music director of the Vancouver Olympics, under Dave Pierce, the music director during the games and whom he had worked frequently for. He wrote some of the instrumental music used during the opening ceremony, among them an arrangement of the Olympic Hymn, which was performed in English and French.

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