Friday, January 28, 2022

Hallelujah…The Symphony Is LIVE Again

The Georgian Bay Symphony, fondly referred to as the GBS, is back performing live. This classical music gem sparkles right here in Grey Bruce County, bringing classical music favourites and innovative Canadian compositions to Grey Bruce. On December 4, over 600 people flocked to the Harmony Centre in Owen Sound to hear the orchestra in action.

Strict COVID protocols were followed to keep everyone safe: a shorter concert program, proof of vaccination for both patrons and musicians, and masking. The only exception being the woodwind and brass players who were behind protective Plexiglas.

Under the baton of Dr. Francis Koh, the audience was delighted with pieces from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Corelli’s Pastorale, and selections from the Messiah. The audience was on their feet for an instrumental version of the Hallelujah chorus – humming could be heard from behind many a mask! As always favourite Christmas carols were on the program. David Adair, the symphony’s business manager, was thrilled by the turnout saying,”It was great to see the orchestra back together, playing for a very appreciative audience. We are all excited to start rehearsing again in January for the February concert.”

The musicians were also very relieved to be back live after months of Zoom rehearsals; submitting sound tracks and video footage; trying to deal with technology. Owen Sound resident and orchestra member Alisa Van Alphen said: “I feel privileged to have worked with so many talented musicians and conductors over my 32 years with the GBS. Performing challenging music and playing with amazing guest artists like Jonathan Crow, Mark Fewer, and Alain Trudel is an experience few community musicians have. It’s good to be back with our audience.”

Hopefully folks new to Grey Bruce County and long-time residents who have yet to dip their toes into classical waters will head to the symphony this year. New GBS patron Brent Hodgson commented, “I wasn’t sure what to expect and was blown away by the quality of the music, it was fantastic!”

The past 20 months has been tough on the arts and culture sector. In fact, community orchestras everywhere simply stopped presenting music. Undaunted, the GBS was the only community orchestra in Canada to deliver a full virtual season in 2020-2021. Meaford resident and violinist Victoria Yeh acted as technical consultant, project manager, and sound engineer in 2020. Rob Davidson, a viola player for the orchestra, took on the enormous role of video editor for the entire project. These performances can still be viewed on Youtube for anyone who missed them.

Virtual concerts definitely helped to fill the void but the ‘real thing’ is back, ready to delight and transport the audience again in February. Don’t miss out. The orchestra needs its audience supporters and Grey Bruce needs the music.

For the information on upcoming concerts in 2022 visit

Submitted by Jen Burak

Jen Burak is a proud new member of the GBS violin section, a new resident of Meaford, and a strong advocate for the Arts.

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