New beginnings for the TBSO

September 2017

Maestro Paul Haas will make his first appearance as Music Director of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra (TBSO) on October 20. It is fitting that the first concert he will lead features Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, as it is a piece that evokes themes of new beginnings and rejuvenation. This October, the TBSO heads into its 57th season propelled by these same themes. With a new Music Director and a new Executive Director at the helm for the upcoming season, it is very exciting times for the TBSO.

Paul Haas’s musical career was set in motion at the age of five, when he tagged along to his sister’s violin lesson and insisted that he, too, wanted to learn. He is a graduate of Yale University and The Juilliard School, where he studied orchestral conducting.

Since 2010, he has been the Music Director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas and he constantly shows himself to be an innovative and highly skilled musician, composer, and conductor. As a composer, Haas has been commissioned by iconic venues like the Park Avenue Armory and Rubin Museum in New York, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and the Anchorage Museum of Art in Alaska.

He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Sympho, a New-York based contemporary music ensemble dedicated to the creation and performance of radically engaging musical experiences and unusual venues and unexpected contexts.

“I always strive to bring audiences into the present moment, into the here and now,” explains Paul. “When I design site-specific musical installations, as I do for Sympho, I’m aiming to use a marriage of music and architecture to coax the audience member into a very personal and meaningful relationship with space and time.”

As Music Director of the TBSO, Paul is passionate about forging a meaningful connection with Northwestern Ontario audiences: “I think one of our biggest opportunities lies in developing a real love affair with our audience. People always talk about ‘audience engagement’, but to me it goes far beyond that. Our audiences want to be a part of something real, something visceral: something that grips them and makes them truly feel. There’s a real two-way street going on energetically in a great performance. The musicians are creating a work of art, but they are absolutely fed by the energy given off by the audience.”

“I want us to make a real difference to this community, giving wherever we can,” Paul goes on to say. “The way Gerald and I are striving towards this initially is by brainstorming ways we can meaningfully connect with Thunder Bay’s aboriginal community. It’s hugely important to me that we also provide opportunities to Thunder Bay’s youth, through concerts, workshops, and lessons.”

Along with Dvořák’s New World Symphony, this season’s Masterworks series will feature a brilliant selection of the greatest in classical music. On April 6, the lights will dim in the beautiful Thunder Bay Community Auditorium for the third Masterworks concert, and the magnificent, awe-inspiring, sounds of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, one of the most celebrated pieces of music in existence, will utterly enrapt you, move you, and undoubtedly leave you with chills. It is a can’t miss experience.

Working alongside Maestro Haas is new TBSO Executive Director, Gerald McEachern. Gerald is an unabashed music lover who has a long marketing association with the TBSO. He has previously been General Manager of Development at St. Stephen, Director of Business Development at Huntsman Marine Science Centre, St. Andrews, N.B., Executive Director of the Alberta Liberal Party, and Manager of Creative Services for The City of Edmonton. He is also CEO of Sage Integrated Marketing based in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. He returns to the city after 13 years away and he feels very positive about the budding waterfront entertainment district and how a more progressive attitude has emerged in the city. Gerald has been with the TBSO since July, and he is very excited for the 2017-2018 season to get underway.

The season is sure to be spectacular. Along with performing Handel’s Messiah in December, one of classical music’s most cherished choral works and a truly grand holiday tradition, the TBSO is introducing a new series called Northern Lights. Reminiscent of the Cabaret series, Northern Lights will highlight Thunder Bay’s superb and diverse range of local talent. The Pops series will see Thunder Bay favourite Jeans ‘n Classics return in March for an unforgettable night of pop/glam/rock that will spotlight two artists who changed the face of pop music – David Bowie and Prince.

Tickets for every series concert can be purchased at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, Tuesday to Saturday 11:30am to 5:30pm, 807-684-4444 and single-ticket sales open on September 20. For more information about the TBSO visit, find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@TBaySO).

Cassandra Blair has a Masters of Arts in English Literature and is a regular contributor to Bayview.

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