Looking back at the season that’s just come to a close, I feel very proud of how we have celebrated our society’s first 60 years, and very positive about the strides we’re making toward our future.
We celebrated the start of the season in September with a special reception at our first sold-out concert, which showcased the superb talents of our Artistic Director Jeffrey McFadden and Toronto guitarist Michael Kolk. We honoured our donors with a thank-you reception at the October concert with Carlo Marchione, and Thomas Viloteau performed to another full house in November. The New Year began with Paolo Martelli and his 11-string guitar, continued with yet another sellout for the phenomenal Pavel Steidl, and the regular season wrapped up with a concert by Johannes Moller.
The Toronto Guitar Weekend in April brought some memorable moments … and one big surprise! The one of-a-kind Celso Machado kicked things off with a joyous performance on Friday evening. Saturday featured a fascinating lecture by Segovia’s son Miguel Coelho, who told the story of his mother, singer and guitarist Olga Coelho. Steve Cowan’s concert, featuring new and beautiful Canadian compositions, followed the launch of Eli Kassner’s autobiography, with Eli himself in attendance. The surprise came Saturday evening, when the Canadian Guitar Quartet stepped in on two days’ notice, replacing Carlos Barbosa Lima, who had been obliged to cancel at the last minute due to visa problems. The short notice didn’t trouble the quartet in the least: they delighted the audience both with their brilliant, polished playing and their sense of humour! The luthier fair was well attended, and the whole weekend just had a kind of buzz of excitement about it. It concluded with a Sunday master class with all four of the quartet members, after a Sunday brunch with the artists that was attended by 29 people!
Our outreach initiatives included the 5th season of the Guitar Society Orchestra, under the direction of Lindsay Jones. The Kenneth G. Mills Foundation sponsors this programme, as well a community outreach and concert series for aspiring professional guitarists to perform free concerts in hospitals, retirement homes, and schools. The President’s Bursary Award, initiated through the generosity of our former president Harold Levy, was given this year to outstanding young guitarists Shawn Pickup and Emad Bagheri, to help with their continuing studies.
As you know, the Guitar Society of Toronto is a not-for-profit organization, and I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank our donors for their generous support. We are so grateful to our sponsors and partners; we could not do what we do without you! We also depend on the assistance of our many volunteers, several of whom were recently honoured by the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards. Congratulations, and thank you for all you do.
We look forward to continuing the success of this past season with the concerts and events of the 2016-17 season. We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer, and we’ll see you in September!
Heather Morand Clark