Mozart returns to the mountain and Beethoven hits the bottle

By Daorcey Le Bray

Seven thousand three hundred people at a sold-out show.

Not bad for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, an organization that sat in artistic limbo for months last year as it struggled to keep afloat financially. Musicians had nowhere to play while a skeleton administrative crew worked against time and the odds to prepare a plan for renewal that would encourage regeneration funding from all levels of government.

All their work has paid off.

On Tues., Sept. 9, Resident Conductor and Chorusmaster Rosemary Thomson gleefully announced the CPO’s first show of the year, "Mozart on the Mountain," was sold out. It’s an outcome that didn’t have her too surprised.

"Mozart is spectacular music to play in the mountains," says Thomson. "Our location is beautiful. What better place to play Mozart than in the type of location that inspired him in Salzburg?"

After an eight-year hiatus, the CPO and its funding partners have successfully brought the popular outdoor family concert back.

"It was always a positive event artistically, but we became too successful," Thomson says, alluding to logistical problems that eventually led to the event’s demise–past concert-goers may still remember the traffic jams leading to the old concert-site in Kananaskis.

This time, the concert is set near Canmore, nestled in the picturesque, and accessible, Three Sisters Mountain Village.

Nicole Langton, CPO Marketing and Communications Coordinator, explains that this year’s sold out concert is not just a one-time event. The orchestra has recently signed a contract with Three Sisters Mountain Village to produce "Mozart on the Mountain" for 10 years.

Three years from now, the CPO will have a permanent band shell for "Mozart on the Mountain"–a sign that after years of obstacles, the orchestra plans to be a Calgary fixture in the distant future.

Thomson is also looking forward to bringing the orchestra outside the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

"Even though the hall is our home our focus is outward and we’re excited about being out in the community," she explains, adding that community outreach is just a part of a rejuvenated CPO.

The orchestra is also expanding its mass appeal this year by "making music for everyone," which includes post-secondary students.

Thomson is excited about the CPO’s new cabaret series, in particular, which includes "Beer and Beethoven" at SAIT on Sat., Oct. 18 and "The New Music" in MacEwan Hall on Tues., Jan. 30.

The former is described by Thomson as having "a real Oktoberfest feel" with a selection of Beethoven, a handful of well-known pops and frosty beverages.

The University of Calgary concert will coincide with the campus’ New Music Festival and will feature local compositions. Both promise to be unusual nights out with the orchestra for students.

Also of interest to students are three Sunday matinee concerts at the Rozsa Centre. These uniquely themed concerts, "A Little Taste of Paris," "Mini Mountain Magic" and "Dvorak Encore" are specially designed for an up-close-and-personal afternoon with the orchestra.

"Sunday matinees are geared toward students, families and younger couples who may not want to go downtown for a concert," says Langton."Or perhaps they don’t have as much time to dedicate to great entertainment."

Thomson says the CPO musicians are more excited than ever to start the new CPO season, especially with a sold-out show.

"I think the musicians are chomping at the bit to get things started. We’re going to blow the roof off!"

Tickets for CPO concerts start as low as $13 for students. For more ticket and concert information visit The CPO is also a part of LiveRush, a program distributing cheap tickets to students. To register, visit

Leave a comment