It’s the end of an era: Bruce Dunn has retired as the Music Director of the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra. Through his 27 year tenure, the KSO has gone from being an amateur ensemble to a highly respected professional orchestra. I want to take a moment and congratulate him on a well earned retirement.
When Bruce first took the position of Music Director with the Kamloops Symphony, I was all of 10 years old. He is therefore the only KSO director I’ve ever known. I first had the pleasure of meeting Bruce when I was nearly 18, when the University College of the Cariboo Chorus joined with the KSO to perform… uh… well, something for chorus and orchestra. Ok, I don’t remember which was the first concert that the UCC Chorus and KSO did together when I was in the choir. I was involved in four performances, but recalling which was first is eluding me. Highlights include a program of opera choruses, and my first ever bucket-list performance; Beethoven’s 9th.
At the same time, I found myself involved in the KSO’s production of The Pirates of Penzance, as a member of the Police Chorus. Having finally had a proper opportunity to hear me sing on my own, Bruce decided he was impressed, and began strongly encouraging me to take voice lessons. (talk about preaching to the choir…)
These were seminal experiences in my life, among the many that helped guide me to my eventual path of studying music in university. These are also a drop in the bucket of stories people in Kamloops can tell about the positive experiences they have had with Bruce over the years. Just a small part of the Bruce Dunn legacy.
But perhaps the best indicator of what Bruce Dunn’s legacy is can be found in the search for his replacement. The four candidates who were selected as finalists to be the next Music Director of the Kamloops Symphony are incredibly talented musicians and conductors. The extremely high calibre of applicants for the position, to me, speaks volumes about what has been accomplished with the Kamloops Symphony over the last 27 years. As I said earlier, the KSO was described by many as a rag-tag amateur ensemble when Bruce first took on the Music Director position. Under his leadership, the symphony grew and evolved artistically into a successful professional ensemble – one of only a handful of professional orchestras in the BC Interior.
The Kamloops Symphony’s reputation spread farther than just throughout our corner of the province. After I had moved away to begin my post-secondary music education, I was meeting musicians from all around the country. Often times people would remark, “Oh, you’re from Kamloops. I hear you have a pretty good orchestra there.” The Kamloops Symphony has been regarded as one of the more successful smaller orchestras in the country for some time, thanks very much in part to Bruce’s efforts.
This is why I believe that one of the best indicators of Bruce’s accomplishments is the high calibre of people applying to take over the role of Music Director of the KSO. People with this level of talent don’t apply to positions that will be a step backward. If the Kamloops Symphony is seen as a legitimate option to conductors of this stature, that means Bruce has done a tremendous job over the last 27 years.
Bruce Dunn leaves the KSO having significantly elevated the quality of programming and performing, and transformed it into a well-respected, successful professional ensemble over the course of his tenure. His dedication and commitment to orchestral music, music education, and the arts in the community has been honoured with a new title: Music Director Emeritus of the Kamloops Symphony. The symphony has also created an endowment fund in his name, the aptly named Bruce Dunn Legacy Fund.
Bruce, congratulations on your well-earned retirement! You’ve done a lot for the arts community in Kamloops, and you deserve much praise for it. I know that you will continue to be a supporter for the arts and public figure here in Kamloops, and I look forward to seeing what you get up to in your retirement.