When I was first invited to Kitchener-Waterloo as a candidate to be their next music director, I was definitely checking this place out. Did I want to put down roots in this community? Would people here understand my artistic vision and the role an orchestra can play in their lives? I was a big city person, raised in Los Angeles, and had living in San Francisco at the time. Was KW a place I could call home?
A few things sealed the deal for me. In Waterloo, it was the corner of Caroline and Erb. I loved the modern architecture of the Perimeter Institute, the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, CIGI, the Seagram Lofts … these visual cues told me that Kitchener-Waterloo was modern, forward-thinking place. In Kitchener, the incredibly diverse population at the Market on Saturdays, and the incomparable acoustics of the Centre in the Square (one of the best places to make music in the WORLD) drew me in. In Cambridge, Langdon Hall and the School of Architecture blew me away. Finally, the people I met seemed to reflect their surroundings. They were engaged, good listeners, and excited about making their community a better place.
Now that I’ve been here for a few years, I find that the KW Symphony and I are part of this community more than ever, drawing in others who may want to make this place their home.
At the KW Symphony we try to present the same vibe that I encountered when I first came here. The music we present is not in any way “small-town.” Our classical guest artists are the same people you’d hear at the Toronto Symphony (James Ehnes, Measha Breuggergosman, Kirill Gerstein, Yuja Wang), our Pops offerings tour the world (Bugs Bunny, Cirque de la Symphonie), and our Intersections Series is so innovative we’ve been invited by Koerner Hall in Toronto to present them there!
What sets us apart from the big cities is how easy it is to hear all of this great music. This orchestra is designed to connect with our community. Our new facility on King Street, the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts, is an unprecedented community arts hub, and a great way to get to know the Symphony. Just walk in the door and a whole world of music will be available to you in an instant. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and even have our own social network (www.kwsocial.ca)! Our education programs are truly comprehensive and engaging. Our ticket prices are a steal!
In this way, the KW Symphony adds to the quality of life here, and I’m happy to have joined the pro-KW team! I think we all share the same goals: to make KW world-class, while maintaining a feeling of a small, close-knit community. I’m happy to be here.