Home     Content     Articles      La Scena Musicale     Search   

La Scena Musicale - Vol. 9, No. 1

'Musically speaking', the SNS seems to be on the track

by Billy McDonald / September 3, 2003

Version française...

A combination of innovative programming and emphasis on community involvement is paying off for Symphony Nova Scotia

Halifax's Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS) is re-shaping the model for mid-sized orchestras. The symphony has not posted a deficit for the past five years, had a nominal surplus last year and projects an ambitious $70,000 surplus this year.

On the verge of bankruptcy less than ten years ago the orchestra reversed its fortune by combining a strong emphasis on community participation with innovative and accessible programming.

Following its financial troubles, SNS revamped its concerts series and increased its attractiveness. It introduced a series entitled 'Musically speaking': an interactive encounter with orchestra members where musical pieces are given contextual and historical introductions by Tom Allen, host of CBC Radio Two's morning show. It signed internationally acclaimed conductor Berhnard Gueller this year as its music director, included a Baroque series to capitalize on the growing interest in period–based music, and added special concerts, such as its Beer & Beethoven evening to encourage community involvement,.

Through this community participation, SNS is working to fulfill the part of its mandate to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Nova Scotia. According to the president of SNS executive committee Paul Kent, the public are sometimes asked to help guide the board's strategic decisions: "Last year we asked a focus group with prominent donors 'what would you do differently if you were to do the programming?' We actually adjusted our program with the feedback."

It's this ability to be flexible that is the key. For Stephen Pedersen, music critic for the Halifax Herald, " [SNS] is not trying to be the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Halifax, it has remained small and has adapted to its locale." Billy McDonald

Version française...

(c) La Scena Musicale