Since the early 1960’s the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching lives through the shared experience of live music. Its early beginnings were a result of the coming together of two string orchestras: the Dunbar Community Centre Orchestra conducted by Jean Glazer and the Jewish Community Centre Orchestra conducted by Jerry Glass. The addition of wind players in the mid-1960’s created a full symphony orchestra. In 1966 the symphony was incorporated as the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra and in 1972 it became the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra.
MUSIC DIRECTOR & ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR
Since it’s early days the VPO has been honoured to work with a number of talented and dedicated Music Directors. In 1965, Leonard Camplin was appointed Music Director and worked with the orchestra until 1972. In the years that followed the VPO had several conductors, notably Jerry Domer who directed the ensemble between 1976-1993. During this time, the VPO established a solid repertoire and presented 4-5 concerts each year.
The Assistant Conductor position was structured as a learning opportunity for aspiring conductors in the early 1990s. One conductor, Wallace Leung, rose to the position of Music Director. Under his inspired direction from 1996-2001, the orchestra grew in strength and moved forward musically. Following his sudden death, the Assistant Conductor position was renamed in his honour as the Wallace Leung Memorial Internship. The internship continues to provide opportunities for emerging conductors to gain experience working with a full-sized symphony while being mentored by the Music Director.
After 2001, the search for a new conductor revealed an impressive range of talent. Filling the position was Juan Castelao who conducted the VPO from 2003-2006. In 2007, Jin Zhang became the new Music Director and he continues to lead the orchestra in exciting and challenging programs today.
Since 1975 the VPO has performed both new and existing Canadian works, supporting the development of Canadian composers. It has premiered and commissioned about a dozen new works over the years. In addition, the VPO has provided opportunities for professional musicians and gifted young performers to work with us as soloists. In 2011 the Concerto Competition for Emerging Artists was initiated, which gives music students an opportunity to rehearse and perform with a full symphony orchestra.
The orchestra has had many exciting partnerships with community choirs, dance studios, universities and colleges, non-profit organizations, and other orchestras in the Greater Vancouver area. From 1998-2004 the VPO collaborated with the UBC Opera Program to mount a fully staged opera each year at the Chan Centre. We partnered with the Jubilate Chamber Choir for performances in 2008 and 2010. In 2011, VPO began an ongoing partnership with the Capilano University Singers to perform full choral works such as opera choruses, Mozart’s Mass in C, the Brahms Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. In 2014, the VPO joined the Music Without Borders Society to provide an opportunity for aspiring musicians to play with a full symphony orchestra.
Today, the VPO is made up of over 50 accomplished amateur and professional musicians of all ages. The orchestra’s longevity can be attributed to the efforts and determination of its founders, members, and many committed individuals who supported the orchestra over the past 50+ years. We look back and applaud their foresight and dedication.