The formally designated Brantford Symphony Orchestra was established in 1919 under the direction of Dr. F. C. Thomas. The symphony’s valued contribution to the cultural community of Brantford continued into the mid 1930s when the onset of the Great Depression together with Dr. Thomas’s retirement saw the gradual decline and eventual disbanding of the orchestra.
Several unsuccessful attempts to reinstate the symphony were made during the war years. Fortunately for the Brantford community, in March of 1948 the symphony “rose from the ashes” under the direction of Fred R. Godden, organist of the Wesley United church and supervisor of music at Brantford Collegiate. They premiered on March 3rd. of that year with vocalist Gwendolyn Lambert as guest artist.
In 1951 Mr. Godden returned to his native England and once again the group disbanded, leaving its members to find work performing in small, local, ad hoc ensembles.
In the fall of 1953, due to the efforts of a group of dedicated local citizens, the current Brantford Symphony was formed. John Gilbert was invited to conduct the new BSO, consisting of 54 members brought together from the aforementioned local groups. Their first concert was performed on May 9, 1954 at Colborne St. United church.
In the 1960s, the BSO moved its venue to the Capitol Theatre on Colborne St. under the direction of Horace Beard, who served as conductor from 1954 to 1962. Subsequent directors included Claude Keast (1962-1967), Walter Babiak (1976-1974), Stanley Saunders (1974-2001) and David Bowser (2002-2005).
At present the BSO continues to be housed in the expertly restored, former Capitol Theatre, known to all as the now celebrated Sanderson Centre. Our permanent home in this richly historical Art Deco structure is well-established.
As an orchestra of approximately 70 professional musicians of the highest calibre, the BSO thrives under the expert tutelage of musical director and conductor Philip Sarabura.
Philip came to us in 2008, bringing with him a wealth of musical experience both in the fields of performance and conducting, not to mention his knowledge, enlightened attitude and engaging personality. A long time choral conductor, in recent years Philip began concentrating on orchestral conducting, directing various ensembles including the Hamilton Philharmonic, Orchestra London and the Canada Pops Orchestra. He now provides the symphony with a mutually constant presence on the podium, and in the public eye. With enthusiasm and dedication Philip has already devoted himself to making important daily and long term decisions that will ultimately continue to bring the public the very best in symphonic entertainment.
Together with Philip Sarabura, the board of the Brantford Symphony invite the people of Brantford and surrounding area to come out and enjoy the music. Click here to read more about Philip Sarabura or click here to go to his web site.
Symphony… Experience it!