Tim and Allison at the Core Shopping Centre
Tim and his daughter Allison are much alike: committed, focused, and wonderfully straightforward. Their Calgary Philharmonic story reflects who they are and how they have lived since the Onyett family moved to Calgary almost 26 years ago.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Tim and his late wife Ruth relocated their young family from the nation’s capital to Calgary in 1995. Allison, who was nine years old, remembers that Ruth’s contagious enthusiasm helped her and her younger sister Courtney embrace the experience as a “great big adventure.” “We moved to Calgary in the middle of Stampede and for us it was quite a cultural shock,” says Allison. “I still remember our first day here. My dad was working at his new office, and we were living downtown at the time — my mom immediately took me and my sister to Eatons to buy a pair of jeans. She was adamant that I have a pair in order to fit in!”
As Ruth and Tim settled into life in Calgary, they began what would become a long and mutually rewarding relationship with the Calgary Philharmonic. “Ruth and I started to attend Calgary Phil concerts many years ago,” Tim recalls. “Initially we were mainly interested in pop concerts, but as we started to appreciate the artistic value of these fantastic musicians, the classical series became our favourite.”
Today, Tim Onyett is Senior Manager, Business Development at Deloitte, one of the largest global professional services firms, with over 325,000 employees, and offices in more than 150 countries. The Calgary branch alone counts more than 1,000 team members.
In his role as Account Executive for more than 23 years, Tim has combined his passion for the Orchestra with his work serving clients and his desire to give back to the community. “I am thrilled to be a volunteer member of the Calgary Philharmonic Development Council, especially right now. As we recover from the pandemic the Orchestra will play a huge role in drawing people back into the city.”
Tim realized some time ago that his personal interest in the Calgary Philharmonic could be shared with business colleagues and help the Orchestra as well. In 2017, when Rune Bergmann became the Music Director, Deloitte hosted a welcome party for the newly appointed conductor and for friends and clients of Deloitte at the Petroleum Club. As it happens, Rune’s wife, Jorum, works for Deloitte in Norway.
Ruth’s sudden passing at the beginning of this year left a void in the Onyett family that is impossible to fill. Nevertheless, Tim’s commitment to the Orchestra hasn’t wavered. As in years past, Tim served on the Cork and Canvas Gala Committee this year — bringing sponsors on board, soliciting donations, selling table tickets — and was instrumental to its enormous success.
“Five or six years ago I became more involved with fundraising volunteer roles within the Orchestra, focusing on special events like Cork and Canvas. I was fortunate that Deloitte was supportive since arts and culture aligns with our commitment to the community and clients,” he says. In the last couple of years, Tim also sat on the Lunar New Year Committee, promoting the event and bringing sponsors to the project thanks to his strong connections to the Hong Kong Canada Business Association, where he was a board member for 10 years until 2017, when he passed the torch to his daughter Allison.
(Left to right): Allison’s husband Randy Witty, Allison, Ruth, Tim with little Charlotte, and Courtney.
While Courtney’s career in politics took her back to Ottawa, where she now works in the House of Commons, Allison has pursued a career in marketing in the same city that welcomed her when she was nine. She studied sociology at the University of Calgary with the intention of becoming a teacher, but decided to follow her passion and add a minor in business. From her first entry-level job in the oil and gas industry, she migrated to more creative fields that took her to positions at Where magazine and RedPoint Media & Marketing Solutions with Avenue magazine, where she was also introduced to the Calgary Philharmonic. Allison is now Marketing Director of the Core Shopping Centre with Cushman & Wakefield Asset Services ULC, a role that allows her to helm exciting projects in support of Core retailers’ ideas and goals. “It has been a challenging year, of course; traffic is inevitably down during the week, with many people working from home. But we’re constantly working on new strategies to welcome people to the Core — from Mother’s and Father’s Day, to the Stampede activation, to the traditional Fall and Christmas projects,” she says.
Like her father, her enthusiasm and positive attitude have been tremendous assets to the Orchestra. Allison is responsible for the Calgary Phil’s partnership with the Core: the Orchestra has a box office location on the third floor of the shopping mall (currently closed due to Covid-19), and performs there regularly every year. “The Calgary Phil performances add sparkle to the mall and everybody is so excited and thankful to be given the opportunity to attend such an amazing music event,” Allison says. She has big shoes to fill, and her role in supporting Cork and Canvas is also key — she helped secure one of the most popular items of the Gala auction, the ‘Core’ experience with gift cards from some of the top retailers of the shopping mall, including Simons and Holt Renfrew. “It’s great coordinating a collaborative effort with likeminded retailers who supports the arts,” she says. “We share the same vision and the same values, and we came together with a large donation that would be appealing for the auction and demonstrate our support for the cause.”
Allison’s love of the Orchestra started when she was young and her mom and dad brought her along to concertsNow, as soon as the Jack Singer Concert Hall is open again, her two-year-old daughter Charlotte will be in the audience for the Symphony Sundays for Kids series. For now, Charlotte is busy practising on her toy baby grand piano — a gift from her grandpa Tim.