Origins of “Songs of Hope”

More than a year ago we applied to the Canada Council for the Arts with the following words:

“We are living through times challenged by pandemic, climate change and political unrest. As a collective of artists working within a creative circle associated with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, we have asked ourselves how artists can and should respond to the times we live in. Our answer has been the one word “Hope”. Drawing on various texts from the classical to the new, and set within our own musical styles, we will jointly conspire to infect our audiences virally with Hope.”

“This project will result in the composition of new works for mezzo soprano, soprano, and chamber ensemble by members of this collaborative. The works are unified by the theme of “Songs of Hope”. 

The project was sparked by and evolved through conversations between mezzo-soprano, Danielle MacMillan and SPO Music Director and composer, Ronald Royer and the working group was expanded to include additional composers, Maghan McPhee, soprano and 7 performer collaborators: These include the four members of the Odin Quartet (Alex Toskov, violin / Tanya Charles Iveniuk, violin / Matt Antal, viola / Samuel Bisson, cello); plus Kaye Royer, clarinet; Lisa Tahara, piano; Gilles Thibodeau, French Horn. 


The scope of work was conceived as a year long creative process developed by a group of composers/librettists, musicians, singers, and recording technicians who have experience working together successfully on various individual and collaborative projects coordinated by Ronald Royer, in partnership with the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra over recent years.

We are exploring a new way of working that is arising out of our practice and we seek to explore further.


Composition is usually a solitary practice. As that solitary state is consistent with the way the pandemic locked us in our solitary lives, artistic practice is mirroring our recent shared history. This project is conceived to involve us in working more collectively, as we explore the theme of “Hope”.

Group creation is part of our organizational DNA. It is perhaps significant that SPO has presented a number of works composed by ICOT (Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto), who work collectively, a model of working arising out of the Persian musical tradition. Also, in recent years, SPO’s New Generation Composer program has “grown up:” attracting composers working at a more advanced level in their emerging careers; offering more workshops and mentorship; and building a multi-generational community of alumni who continue to work within our informal artistic collective. So, as we work on an artistic project with messages of hope for the audience, we also aspire to develop a new and hopeful way of working together.

This project also will bring together composers at different stages of their lives and careers, with a variety of lived experience and cultural perspectives.

Now after months of work we are nearly there on March 30, we will be holding a day-long workshop with composers, musicians and mentors in attendance.

On April 26th the full cycle will be presented at Heliconian Hall, with highlights on our subscription series on April 27th.

Everything Waits for the Lilacs

Saturday March 9 @ 8 pm

Metropolitan Community Church

Alexander Panizza takes the stage to play piano music by Ravel, Liszt, Chopin & Canadian composers, commissioned by Scarborough Philharmonic

Survey Results

We want to thank everyone who participated and share the results and comments from our community.

Let us know what jumps out for you.  We were impressed and encouraged by the many warm comments but also felt that our audience was on the same page as our leadership on the areas where we still need more work. 

While we have made great strides in representing diversity in our programming, we know we need to do more here.  You’ve also told us that you want us to remove barriers to attendance with some lower cost events and free tickets for the disadvantaged. 

We were delighted to see such an interest in innovative programming with mixed media and multi-arts components.  Your support is empowering! 

Please feel free to share your follow up comments on the survey below. 

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Meet our new Board Chair, Dr. Paul Tichauer

Paul Tichauer, Board Chair

SPO is pleased to announce the election of a new Board Chair, Paul Tichauer. Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and skills that will be invaluable as SPO continues to thrive and respond to the challenges of the times. Paul A. Tichauer MA (Oxon), PhD (MIT), MBA, is a Rhodes Scholar and a highly experienced, successful CEO and COO with early roots in materials technology and marketing. He has held senior leadership positions with a broad array of companies – large, small, public, private – in Canada, the United States and Europe. Most recently, he was President of the Langen Packaging Group, a global manufacturer of highly automated packaging machinery systems based in Toronto and the Netherlands.

Since 2012, he has guided numerous CEOs and other senior business leaders to greater success through work as a professional mentor and business coach. The annual revenues of his clients’ businesses range from $3 million to over $1.2 billion and span a broad array of sectors and industries.

Formerly serving as Treasurer on the SPO Board, Paul has stepped up to the challenge of piloting the Board of Directors as they begin their first Strategic Planning Process, renew community connections, and work for sustainable growth responsive to the community who support, enjoy, and collaborate with, our work.

Paul is also a valued member of our cello section!

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From our Partners: Toronto International Dance Festival

Our friends at Dancing Damsels wanted the SPO community to know about the upcoming 10th Annual International Dance festival happening November 19 & Nov 26, 2023

PRESS RELEASE:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Toronto International Dance Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary, Unites Cultures through Dance
and Art


Toronto, ON – The Toronto International Dance Festival (TIDF) is thrilled to announce its 10th-anniversary
celebration, set to take place at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, located at 5183 Sheppard Ave
E., Scarborough, ON. This annual event, organized by the non-profit organization Dancing Damsels Inc., is
dedicated to promoting cultural diversity through the art of dance. The festival is scheduled to unfold over two
exciting days on November 19 and November 26, 2023, from 7pm to 9pm.


TIDF has become a cherished tradition in Toronto, bringing together artists and audiences from various
backgrounds to celebrate their rich heritage through the universal language of dance. Over the past decade,
TIDF has played a pivotal role in fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation for the art of dance.
On November 19, the festival will showcase a vibrant array of cultural dances, hip-hop performances, and
social dances. Audiences can look forward to an exhilarating evening featuring outstanding talent, including
Nirkoda Israeli Dancers of Toronto, Rangara Performing Arts, Elite Chinese Arts Troupe (ECAT), Mimi Batho,
BollySass, Sakura Performers, Sentir Venezuela, Mexican Folklore Group TONATIUH, MM Entertainment,
Portuguese Cultural Centre of Mississauga Inc., Dantitude Elites, Kaleidoscope Chinese Performing Arts
(KCPA), BollySalsa, Ensemble Topaz, Gaana at Mac, and SG Expressions.


The program on November 26 will spotlight classical, contemporary, ballet, and modern dance styles. The
stage will be graced by remarkable performers, including Saugandhikam Dance Academy, Karika – Verses of
Dance, Dance Fachin, Mississauga Chinese Arts Organization (MCA0), UV Movement, Shivani Shivakumar,
Sapna Sehravat and Ayushi Sharma, Prajakta David, Kaleidoscope Chinese Performing Arts (KCPA), Hoor
Dance Team, Roosara Dance, Canada’s Ballet Jörgen, Arte Flamenco, The Candy Shop Dance, Tdot Tdat Thai
Dramatic Dance Troupe and ICONS.


What sets the Toronto International Dance Festival apart is its commitment to making the arts accessible to all.
The festival offers free admission to the community, with an RSVP required to ensure venue capacity is not
exceeded. Audience members can secure their spot by following the Eventbrite link, which will be shared on
the festival’s social media channels closer to the event. Furthermore, there will also be free dance workshops
hosted by TIDF across Toronto and GTA leading up to the festival. Details for the workshops will be
announced on our social media channels as well.
To stay updated with all the latest news and announcements regarding TIDF and related workshops, please
follow @tidfcanada on Instagram and Facebook.


For inquiries and further information, please reach out to:
Parul Verma
Festival Manager
Email: contacttidfcanada@gmail.com

Meet the SPO’s 2023-24 Composer-in-Residence

Ted Runcie was born in Jamaica and grew up in Scarborough where as a teenager he played violin in the Scarborough Schools’ Youth Orchestra and sang in the Scarborough Schools’ Youth Choir as a teenager. Runcie is a graduate of McGill University where he studied composition, voice and conducting. Runcie did further studies in composition studies with Christian Wolff in the U.S.A and further conducting studies in Finland with Jorma Panula of the Sibelius Academy.

Over the years Runcie has composed a varied body of work including chamber music, solo instrumental works, choral works, art songs and symphonic works. He has written two ‘sinfoniettas’ based on Jamaican history. His Jamaica Quartets No. 1 & 2 have been recorded by SPO’s ensemble-in-residence, the Odin Quartet.

Runcie spent more than two decades as a conductor and educator in Taiwan where was Music Director of the Hsinchu Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hsinchu Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and where he taught at Changung University.

SPO to embark on a Resilient Communities Project

SPO was gratified to learn that we had been successful with an application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation in seeking funding for an organizational renewal project during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons. OTF’s Resilient Communities Program offers support to organizations as they recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown period, reconnect with their communities and develop new methods and strategies for greater resilience.