Calgary Phil News

Virtual Concert Update

2 February 2021

Due to the most recent restrictions on gatherings and venues, we’re not able to record performances the same way we did for our Fall Virtual Concert Series. But we’re busy working on new virtual concert experiences that meet current Alberta Health Services guidelines, so stay tuned!

For regular email updates as well as news about our musicians and other online projects, subscribe to our newsletter here and follow us @calgaryphil on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

November 2020

Dear friends,

Thank you for your support in recent months as we continue to deal with the challenges created by COVID-19, keeping everyone’s health and safety as our top priority. Due to ongoing limits on the size of indoor gatherings, and travel restrictions affecting our guest artists, we’ve decided to cancel the in-person concerts originally scheduled from January to June in our 2020/2021 Season.

Instead, we’re carefully monitoring the situation and as health and safety guidelines permit, we hope to start opening our doors to small, physically distanced audiences. We will also continue with the new virtual concert series we launched this fall, with regular online performances featuring Calgary Phil musicians. We had many great concerts planned, which we know you were looking forward to. Rest assured — if we are able to reschedule any of these concerts by June 2021, previous ticket buyers will get first priority. If you are a subscriber we want you to know we are holding your seats from last season (2019/2020) until we’re able to welcome full audiences back to the concert hall.

For subscribers who purchased tickets to any scheduled Calgary Philharmonic concerts from January to June 2021, we will return the full value of those tickets through your choice of a refund or a credit to your account. We’ll send you an email with instructions, or you can contact us at [email protected] or at 403.571.0849 if you have any questions or need assistance. For those with tickets to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert and/or Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert, which were originally postponed, those performances have now been cancelled and you will receive an email from Ticketmaster outlining the automatic refund process.

We realize this news is disappointing, but as we’re sure you understand, we need to give our audience members, musicians, guest artists, staff, and volunteers the time they need to plan ahead. We hope you will join us for our virtual concerts online at

As I reflect back on the last eight months and the immense challenges our community has faced, I am heartened by the way music continues to bring us together even when we are forced to be apart. Thank you for watching and listening and showing your support during this time.

Stay safe,

Paul Dornian
President + CEO

Calgary Philharmonic capital campaign to build a solid foundation kicks off with major donation

15 October 2020

We have launched a capital campaign that will build a secure future for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and its contributions to the cultural fabric of Calgary. Ad Astra: Building to New Heights focuses on pursuing artistic excellence, strengthening our community, and ensuring a sustainable future.

We’re sending a special thank you to longtime supporter and honorary campaign chair Dr. John Lacey, who kicked off our campaign with a $1 million donation to the Calgary Philharmonic Foundation. Dr. Lacey said he promised his late wife, Naomi, that he would do his best to ensure Calgary always has the orchestra it needs to be a truly vibrant city. His extraordinary generosity will benefit generations of music-lovers for years to come.

The Calgary Philharmonic Foundation, which established an independent endowment fund in 1984 to support the orchestra’s long-term operations, has become our largest annual funder, exceeding all levels of government support. The goal of the Ad Astra Campaign is to increase the endowment by $25 million from almost $40 million over the next five years.

Read the full media release here.

15 September 2020

Today the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra revealed a new fall series of free weekly concerts that will be shared with the community online to give as many people as possible a chance to enjoy them. The series starts Saturday, October 3 with solo and duet performances by two Orchestra musicians who grew up in Calgary. A new concert video premieres each weekend with the number of musicians increasing one performance at a time, from trios, quartets, and quintets, up to larger ensembles — eventually, once COVID-19 guidelines permit, the goal is to bring all 66 musicians together again onstage.

“We have heard over and over again how much comfort music has brought people over the past six months and how much they appreciate our virtual performances,” says Paul Dornian, President + CEO of the Calgary Phil. “In return, we have received tremendous support from our loyal audience and the community, which has helped make it possible for us to create new experiences online.”

“We want to honour that contribution by making these concerts accessible to everyone — we don’t want anyone to miss out due to financial hardship or because they have to remain in isolation,” says Dornian. “This is also a great opportunity to reach Calgarians and others who haven’t yet discovered our amazing Orchestra.”

Concert details will be released one month at a time to allow for flexibility as guidelines related to COVID-19 evolve. Viewers will need to register in advance starting Tuesday, September 22 at, and those who are financially able will be encouraged to support this initiative through a donation to the Orchestra. In the weeks ahead, the hope is to slowly bring audience members back into the concert hall, starting with a handful of patrons and growing from there.

“I’m extremely excited that we’re finally back onstage,” says Music Director Rune Bergmann from his home in Norway. “Since it’s not possible for everyone to be together in the concert hall right now, we’re using the top-quality streaming platform we developed over the last five years to reach all of you at home. “This series will be very interesting for our audience — you get the opportunity to hear some of the greatest chamber music ever written, as well as some pieces you may not have heard before. These smaller concerts also shine a spotlight on the talent we are so lucky to have in Calgary.”

The first concert on Saturday, October 3 features two members of the Orchestra with strong local connections — Calgary Phil Assistant Concertmaster Donovan Seidle on violin, and Principal Cellist Arnold Choi. Seidle attended junior and senior high school in Calgary, and studied at Mount Royal Conservatory. He went to the University of Calgary for his undergrad, where he doubled in performance and composition, before being accepted into the masters’ program at Northwestern University. He has served as Calgary Phil’s Assistant Concertmaster since 2003. Choi grew up in Calgary and also studied at Mount Royal Conservatory, where he spent many summers in the internationally acclaimed Morningside Music Bridge program. He left the city to pursue postsecondary degrees and has performed concerts around the world. He returned in 2017 after he won his position at the Calgary Philharmonic.

The fall season is a continuation of Calgary Phil’s commitment to providing the community with rich musical experiences. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Calgary Phil has engaged audiences online, launching Calgary Phil All Access ( with virtual concert recordings, and producing high-quality videos, including the educational children’s series An Orchestra Adventure.

October 2020 concerts are listed below, and the November lineup will be revealed in mid-October. For more information visit our Virtual Concerts page.

September 2020

In June of 2020 the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra took a public stand in the fight against systemic racism, with a goal to foster and create space for artists who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. Shortly after, we were saddened to learn of allegations posted on the Instagram platform @OrchestraIsRacist involving one of our musicians, Slavko Popovic. While it was an anonymous post, we take such allegations seriously and launched an independent, third-party investigation within 24 hours. For the past two months, the investigator has interviewed all witnesses who agreed to come forward, as well as reviewed videos and further correspondence.

In keeping with our commitment to transparency, we wanted our patrons and the public to know the following:

  • The evidence was inconclusive as to the authenticity of the original post on @OrchestraIsRacist. The investigator worked with @OrchestraIsRacist to have the original poster come forward, but unfortunately this did not happen. As a photograph or screen shot can be doctored in this day and age, we chose to give Mr. Popovic the benefit of the doubt.
  • In addition, regarding the comments that Mr. Popovic sexually harassed individuals in the past, there were no further comments, evidence or witnesses to support this accusation.
  • The investigation did find that Mr. Popovic has used racist and misogynistic language, which Mr. Popovic admitted to. At this time, we have every indication that he is taking ownership of this behaviour and understands that it is not in alignment with the values of our organization.

There are two options when it comes to judgment in our world: punitive or restorative justice. Given that the Calgary Philharmonic is committed to learning and unlearning, we have made the decision to jointly invest in Mr. Popovic and his journey towards breaking down racist ideologies. We believe that Mr. Popovic has taken ownership for the mistakes of his past and not only commits to making a change today, but also knows that the future of our industry relies on it. It’s never easy to admit to doing something wrong, but we support the initial steps Mr. Popovic is taking. He will be working with an organization called Equity Leaders to dig deep and do the work required to unlearn hurtful ideologies and practices.

In addition, our entire organization will be setting aside time and energy to invest in our growth as a whole. Our staff (musicians and administration) will be attending experiential training programs throughout the year to ensure we understand our biases and stay accountable to our commitment to build a more inclusive organization. We are forming a joint committee to create safe spaces for tough conversations and, perhaps more importantly, we are examining our recruitment practices to ensure Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have equal opportunities at the Calgary Philharmonic.

The time is now to make a difference in our industry. We are committed to doing the work. Please feel free to ask questions and hold us accountable on our own journey.

Finally, we want to thank @OrchestraIsRacist for the work they are doing in the fight against oppression and racism. Your voice has been heard.

25 June 2020

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your support in recent months as we all adapt to a new and constantly evolving situation. We’re encouraged by the progress our community has made in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and continue to support that effort with everyone’s health and safety as our top priority.

As the province begins the reopening process, arts groups like ours are facing the reality that we won’t be able to enjoy a full house in our venues for some time. We remain committed to performing music for you, but for now we need to change the way we present it.

After careful consideration, we’ve decided to cancel the more than 35 performances we originally scheduled from September to December 2020, including regular, education, and outreach concerts, as well as open rehearsals. Instead, we are reinventing our fall performances to fit within health and safety guidelines, whether that means we present them live or online. We hope to return to regular concerts starting in January 2021.

We realize this news is as disappointing for you as it is for us, especially as the province has started reopening, but the timeline remains uncertain and we need to give our audience members, musicians, guest artists, staff, and volunteers the time they need to plan ahead. Several factors were involved in this decision: recommendations from government and public health officials; ongoing restrictions on large gatherings and non-essential travel; and potential policies and procedures at Jack Singer Concert Hall as required by Arts Commons.

In keeping with the recommendations surrounding choral performances, we are also replacing any repertoire featuring the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus at other concerts during the 2020/2021 Season, including Mozart’s Requiem (5 + 6 March 2021) and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony (30 April + 1 May 2021). We will be finding other ways to engage and showcase our wonderful Chorus during this time. Our performances with Calgary Opera and Alberta Ballet at the Jubilee Auditorium have also been cancelled.

For subscribers who purchased tickets to any scheduled Calgary Philharmonic concerts from 11 September 2020 up to and including 16 December 2020, we will return the full value of those tickets through your choice of a refund or a credit to your account. We’ll send you an email with instructions, or you can contact us at [email protected] or 403.571.0849 if you have any questions or need assistance. Please note that our box office hours have been reduced to Monday to Friday from 10AM to 3PM and our staff is dealing with a high volume of inquiries.

We’re working hard on new plans for the fall and will send you the details as soon as possible. We also want to assure you that as soon as the concert hall shut down in March, we started planning for a safe return that prioritizes everyone’s health and well-being. When the time is right to bring the full Orchestra back onstage and welcome a full house back into the concert hall, we will be ready. Until then, we’ll continue to find other ways to keep the music playing — stay tuned.

Take care,

Paul Dornian

Single ticket sales for the 2020/2021 Season are postponed until further notice as we work to finalize our new lineup for the fall and continue to monitor evolving health and safety guidelines related to COVID-19.

The postponement of our single ticket sales means there is no firm renewal deadline for subscribers — we’re happy to work with you individually to find a solution to fit your needs. We highly recommend contacting our sales team by phone (403.571.0849) or email ([email protected]) to discuss any performances you may be interested in attending from January onward. Subscriber seats can be held without deposit and upon request. More information on our pro-rated Curated Series Subscriptions and flexible Compose Your Own Series pricing can be found here.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all concerts from 12 March 2020 to the end of the 2019/2020 Season were postponed or cancelled. In addition, as of 25 June 2020, all concerts originally scheduled from 11 September 2020 up to and including 16  December 2020, including regular, education, and outreach concerts, as well as open rehearsals are cancelled.

We’re still working to confirm new dates for two concerts at the Jubilee Auditorium that were postponed last spring due to COVID-19: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ in Concert and Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert. Thank you for your patience. We’ll keep you posted about new dates, so hold on to your tickets. Should you require a refund, please go to Ticketmaster online, where a refund link will be visible under the order in your Ticketmaster account.

For any cancelled Calgary Philharmonic concerts, we will return the full value of tickets purchased through your choice of a full refund or a credit to your account. All those who purchased tickets to a cancelled performance have received an email or will be contacted by phone about their ticket options. Please allow 10 business days for refunds to be processed. Our Sales Team is also available by phone (403.571.0849) or email ([email protected]) to answer any questions or offer assistance.

Thank you for your patience as we reinvent our fall performances to fit within new health and safety guidelines, whether that means we present them live or online. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for updates.

Please note that our box office hours have been reduced to Monday to Friday from 10AM to 3PM and our staff is dealing with a high volume of inquiries.