(photo: Orchestra London on tour, 1977)
Orchestra London Canada has been sharing the
magic of live, orchestral music for more than 60 years.
Founded in 1937 by conductor and violinist Bruce Sharpe, the London
Civic Symphony Orchestra began as a community-based ensemble
comprised of business people, teachers, homemakers and students.
Under Sharpe, they presented many works by contemporary Canadian
composers, including Barbara Pentland, Gerald Bales and Wayne
The orchestra was reorganized in 1950. A goodwill donation of $500
from the local Kiwanis Club led to the formation of a Board of
Directors and the Woman's Committee. The orchestra also hired its
first professional conductor, Martin Boundy, who would remain at the
podium until 1969. Under Boundy's tenure, the ensemble played
concerts in regional centres, introduced children's concerts and
performed its first Pops concert.
The renamed London Symphony Orchestra was incorporated in June 1957
but did not achieve fully-professional status until the
mid-seventies, under the baton of Clifford Evens (1969-79).
A $100,000 grant from the Richard and Jean Ivey Fund enabled the
orchestra to hire 30 full-time musicians in 1975, making it eligible
for Canada Council funding for the first time. Toronto Star music
critic, William Littler described the LSO as "an orchestra capable
of serving an entire region of the province."
Viennese-born cellist, composer and conductor, Alexis Hauser, was
appointed conductor of Orchestra London Canada in 1981. His
programming included large-scale works by Mahler and Bruckner,
beginning our ongoing collaboration with the Kitchener-Waterloo
In 1982, Orchestra London represented Canada at the International
Festival of Music and Architecture in L'Aquila, Italy. By the
1986-87 Season, Orchestra London offered nine subscription series,
special concerts and a Beethoven Festival.
After Hauser's departure in 1988, Orchestra London was led by Uri
Mayer (1988-94), Mark Laycock (1995-1998), Brian Jackson (1999-2000)
and Simon Streatfeild (1999-2000). We have been honoured to share
the stage with such renowned guest artists and conductor as Jon
Vickers, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Glenn Gould, Jessye Norman, Maureen
Forrester, Robert Goulet, Anton Kuerti, Shirley Jones, Moe Koffman,
Louis Lortie, James Ehnes, Robert Silverman, Mario Bernardi, Scott
St. John, Gustave Meier, Diana Krall and Jann Arden.
Orchestra London's current conductor, Timothy Vernon, joined the
ensemble in 2000.
We currently present seven series, ranging from the classical
Ovation and Cathedral to the Pops and electrified
Red Hot Weekends. Our revamped Education Concerts have introduced
more than 30,000 local schoolchildren to live classical music since
2000, and our Community Concerts have taken the orchestra out of the
concert hall and into local community centres, markets and school
In 2003, Orchestra London received a Lieutenant Governor's Award for
the Arts for having "maintained a high level of artistic excellence
while demonstrating exceptional community and private sector
The 2004-2005 season saw the formation of the Orchestra London
Philharmonic Choir and the production of London's first,
fully-staged professional opera, Tosca. Presented at the Grand
Theatre and performed in collaboration with Pacific Opera Victoria,
a company founded by Maestro Vernon, the five-day run played to a
capacity house. Orchestra London has performed three operas since then,
Verdi's Rigoletto, Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Puccini's Madama
Butterfly. Mozart's The Magic Flute will be performed in the
spring of 2009.