Since the early 1960s, 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
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 of 4-5 concerts each year.
In the early 1990s, the Assistant Conductor position was structured as a learning opportunity for aspiring conductors. One assistant conductor, Wallace Leung, rose to the position of Music Director in 1996. Under his inspired direction, the orchestra grew in strength and moved forward musically. Following his sudden death in 2002, the Assistant Conductor position was renamed in his honour as the Wallace Leung Memorial Internship.
After 2002, the search for a new conductor revealed an impressive range of talent. Juan Castelao 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.
EMERGING ARTIST INITIATIVES
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. Since the 1990s, VPO has supported emerging conductors through the Wallace Leung Memorial Assistant Conductor Internship, which provides an opportunity for emerging conductors to gain experience working with a full-sized symphony while being mentored by the Music Director. 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.