The past year brought many challenges, but your support and encouragement helped keep the music playing. At the beginning of 2021, with the concert hall closed, we reached out to our partners in the community. The result was City Spaces, a series of free virtual concerts featuring small ensembles of Calgary Phil musicians in iconic venues like The BOW skyscraper, Contemporary Calgary, and Telus Spark Science Centre. Although there was no one in the audience to applause, many of you tuned in and told us how much the music meant to you — and that was all the motivation our musicians and staff needed.
We moved other projects online as well, including school concerts and PhilKids lessons, our music appreciation series, and the annual spring Cork and Canvas fundraising gala and auction in support of our valued education programs. Offstage, our musicians stayed connected with audiences through our popular Notes from Home video series, which offered a glimpse into their offstage lives — from what music they were playing, to their hobbies and passions, to their adorable pets.
After the summer, we hit the ground running with Beat Beethoven, presented in partnership with Run Calgary. This was our first in-person event of the year — and the first ever with new President + CEO Marc Stevens, who joined the Calgary Phil in September and laced up alongside some of our musicians and staff to run in support of PhilKids.
A highlight of the year was the return to live performances for Fall 2021 — we were so happy to see so many of you back in the concert hall. It was incredibly moving for musicians, staff, and volunteers to launch the 2021/2022 Season with a live performance dedicated to frontline workers and their families. Those good feelings continued when Music Director Rune Bergmann returned to the stage a week later, and again when our fabulous chorus members recently took their place in the hall for their first live performance in almost two years. While audiences were smaller due to limited capacity, the applause was mighty.
We also welcomed new friends this year — some viewers who hadn’t been to the concert hall before discovered the Orchestra online. We remain committed to creating quality virtual programming that’s accessible to as many people as possible. This fall we worked with Making Treaty 7 Cultural society to create Napi and the Rock, a family-friendly online program telling this traditional Blackfoot story through music and drama. This performance is available for watch for free and has already been shown in city classrooms.
We know the rollercoaster of highs and lows is not over yet. We also know the arts and artists will be there to provide comfort, hope, reflection, and joy. This difficult period has been a reminder of how much music enriches our lives, and how meaningful it is to share it with others. This was the motivation behind our theme for the 2021/2022 Season: Music Connects Us. Music Moves Us. Music Inspires Us.
Whatever the next year has in store, we remain incredibly grateful for you and for all the encouragement we’ve received from our communities. Thank you — and we wish you all the best in 2022.
Sneak peak behind the scenes: Last Spring, when the concert hall was closed and we were working remotely as much as possible, we all had to adjust our routines. We hope you’ll enjoy these short videos, originally created for our virtual Cork and Canvas gala last spring — you’ll get a glimpse of what our musicians were up to offstage and how our staff kept things running from a (mostly) empty office.