Twenty years after establishing the Thompson Valley Orchestra, founding music director Norris Berg has now retired. I have some thoughts on the future of TVO that I’d like to share.
First, I’d like to say to Norris, “Congratulations!” Back in 1997, Norris took stock of the situation here in Kamloops and came to the realization that this city needed a community orchestra. Thus, the Thompson Valley Orchestra was born as a small string orchestra. As time moved on the orchestra grew in size, adding in winds, brass, and percussion, providing an excellent opportunity for numerous amateur classical musicians to continue playing their instrument in an orchestral setting.
Over the years I’ve come to learn just how vitally important a community ensemble like TVO can be. Not everyone who picks up a musical instrument becomes a professional musician, and that’s fine. Having music in our lives has numerous benefits, regardless of whether it’s our source of income. You can research the benefits of making music to the brain, as well as our physical and mental health, but to put it in a nutshell, it’s great for us. That’s why a community ensemble like TVO is so important; large numbers of people can continue to keep music in their lives, develop their skills, make new friends, and have wonderfully positive experiences.
With Norris’s well-earned retirement, comes the “passing of the baton” to a new director. Or, at least for next season anyways, three new directors. Thompson Valley Orchestra had previously put out a call for applicants to be a guest conductor for one of their performances next season. I think this is a really smart way of moving forward in searching for a new music director. This approach can help to ease everyone into the change, and ensures the new director is a good fit. The TVO has now officially announced the three guest conductors for next season: Don Bennet, John Franks, and Steve Powrie.
I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Franks, so I can’t say very much about him. I have had several conversations about the TVO guest conductors recently, and I’ve heard positive things about him.
I have, however, had the pleasure of working closely with both Don Bennet and Steve Powrie. I’m very happy to see that two of the candidates for ultimately taking on the role of Music Director for the Thompson Valley Orchestra are very talented and well respected music educators in Kamloops. I believe that if the TVO’s new music director has a solid background in music eduction, this can be extremely beneficial for the ensemble. Someone who knows how to work with people on the technical issues of any instrument can be just the thing to help propel the members of the orchestra ahead in their skills.
Congratulations again to Norris Berg; he started with the very humble beginnings of a 12-person string orchestra and built it into a 50+ member symphony orchestra over the last twenty years. This is a wonderful achievement, and your retirement is well earned, sir!
I’m very excited to see how Thompson Valley Orchestra continues to grow in the future. I know it will remain to be an excellent place for amateur musicians to keep making music in Kamloops for years to come.
To learn more about the orchestra, go to the TVO’s website.