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Looking Backward / Moving Forward

The QSCM ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING was held June 3, 2019 at St. Paul's United Church, Stirling ON 3 pm. A link allowing all members access to the Minutes from that meeting will be available soon. Meanwhile, I will share my remarks, addressed to all the membership here for those who could not attend:

Annual Report from Chair, Bonnie Sallans

Artistic Director, Sebastian Sallans opened the meeting remarks with a performance of the Partita in D minor for Solo Violin by J.S. Bach. Allemande & Courante.

Thank you Sebastian for that excellent example of early Chamber music in the form of music for unaccompanied violin.

Chamber Music as a term arises historically sometime in the 17th century, appearing first in the Italian form, Musica di camera,meaning “house musician”, as distinct from musica di chiesa, meaning church musicians. This term would refer to a musician who was hired by a rich nobleman to provide music for his household. The key word here is “rich” -i.e. Chamber music has its roots in the ability of the wealthy to provide for musicians to devote themselves full time to writing and performing to the best of their ability for the pleasure and enjoyment of a small group of highly privileged individuals.

That music initially might consist of a cantata da camara - i.e. songs. the developed form of which is the focus of QSCM’s Vocal Chamber Music planned for Nov. 1,2,3 2019. But the evolution and growing popularity of the violin engendered a growing interest in purely instrumental music, an example of which is such as the Partita for Solo Violin, from which Sebastian just played two movements, and led to the development of the String Quartet, which QSCM happily introduced to audiences in the townships of Madoc Centre Hastings last year.

The music Sebastian played today was written in the 17th century. It has without a doubt stood the test of time. What has not endured is the exclusivity of exquisite music making. The ongoing support for QSCM and the growing interest in our performances is proof positive that you do not have to be a wealthy member of the cultivated nobility to appreciate, enjoy and benefit from beauty.

Everyone is capable of beauty. QSCM exists to make classical music, specifically chamber music, accessible to all.

This last year we made that happen by way of launching the All Terrain Tour in the northern part of our catchment, and a stunning fall event, featuring baritone Peter McGillivray and Pianist Petya Stavreva. In addition to these performance events QSCM created the QSCM blog and the QSCM e- newsletter issued each fortnight and I thank volunteers Sharon and Cynthia Young for their ongoing help making this part of our program work.

In an attention-economy, getting the word out is highly challenging. The QSCM website is a powerful tool towards not only publicizing our events and activities but also towards fulfilling our educational mandate. In 2018 our platform provider upgraded many of the elements, including the blog function. Moving forward, volunteers are hard at work learning how best to use this technology towards accessing a wider audience, engaging a community of supporters, and providing educational materials to make the music accessible and interesting as well as raising the profile of QSCM in the local community and beyond. In a similar vein we are continually upgrading our Social Media presence, and with the help of volunteer Jeanette Arsenault have made some progress in raising our on-line profile.

QSCM is growing as an organization. In 2018 we began working on a membership program which has been well received and will be pursued more vigourously in the coming months. Developing this program will allow us to increase local community support both in terms of financial contributions and volunteer work.

In 2018 the Federal Government granted QSCM the status of a registered charity. The implications of this achievement have already been felt in the size of donations made by individuals and may or may not have had an impact on our succesful application in the fall of 2018 to the OAC, a government agency, for grant funding. QSCM is grateful to the OAC as this kind of grant support is essential to being able to provide quality experiences of classical music performance in our community. We cannot stress too often the importance of government based funding in sustaining the arts in Ontario and Canada as without it our cultural footprint would be overshadowed and obliterated by the American market which operates from a much larger population base.

Receiving OAC grant funding also raised the credibility of QSCM in the artistic community, indicating to all that we are to be taken seriously as presenters of quality performances. Musicians of a very high performance caliber, both emerging and established want to be on the QSCM program.

Networking in the Artistic Community in 2018 led to an invitation to participate in a day long symposium presented by the Art Song Foundation of Canada in Toronto. Three QSCM volunteers attended. We returned with much to think about in terms of new ways to make classical music accessible and interesting to new audience, as well as excellent contacts with musicians and funders who make the music possible.

2018 saw an influx of volunteer activity from leaders in the classical music world ready to support our work with advice and active engagement to help us establish our credibility. Names on that list include Jonathan Crow, TSO Concert master, Andrew Wan, MSO Concert Master, James Norcop, Director of the Canadian Art-Song Project, and Prof. Annamaria Popescu, erstwhile La Scala principle, currently a McGill University Vocal coach and instructor, and highly respected international operatic soloist and recitalist. We are happy to announce that Anna-Maria Popescu has agreed to assume the role of Artistic Advisor on Vocal Performance to our organization.

Similarly, although in an informal personal way, as he is well past retirement, James Norcop has proven a helpful mentor and guide as we develop programming initiatives. Norcop has been doing artistic management since before I was born. Coming to Canada to manage and build the Vancouver Opera in 1965, he among other things was part of the team that build and managed the newly formed the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras, and served as founding executive director of the Coordinated Arts Services.

QSCM is very well connected. These are stellar names in the classical music world. But without the work of local volunteers none of it would matter. 2018 saw an increase in local volunteer activity that not only allowed us to get more work done, but also increased our profile in the local musical community.

Looking forward, we are working on various initiatives to increase that vlunteer base,including ongoing networking with other local arts organizations, QSCM thanks all our volunteers for all the boots on the ground work you do. Volunteer service is the backbone of QSCM. Without you, we have nothing.

At the end of the day the key difference between QSCM’s chamber music activity and that of the wealthy noble houses of 17th century Europe is the audience. QSCM audiences include everyone who might want to listen regardless of education and socio-economic status.

What remains the same however, is the commitment to quality professional performance. At a time when fandom is replacing expertise, and popularity is prioritized over competence, QSCM remains committed to elevating the listening experience expectations of all through exclusively delivering programs featuring musicians who have achieved the standards of excellence the effective performance of classical music demands.

The other factor that remains the same across the centuries is the cost of such professional music making. To be a professional classical musician requires a lifetime commitment to study, practice and performance. Professional Classical music performances are expensive. To encourage and foster professional classical music making in Canada we must continue to work a building audience through delivering high quality performances in an inviting and educational format.

QSCM does not have the resources of a Venetian nobleman, but what we do have are local donors. These ongoing support of these donors is essential to ensuring we operate in the black as well as lending credibility to applications for government and corporate funding. Despite our commitment to low ticket prices ad inexpensive and/or free community outreach we are doing just that. We are also grateful to the concert artists who perform most generously on terms we are able to meet. Fundraising remains a primary concern of course. Going forward we are working towards augmenting local support with contributions from the corporate sector as well making further applications for government funding.

Classical music may have had an elitist beginning, but classical music making is about community. The intimacy of small rooms elicits a musical response that is intimate, compelling and dramatic in a deeply personal way. It also encourages amateur involvement both in developing discerning musical tastes and exciting an interest in taking up the

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music making itself. Amateur music making is the seed-bed of professional music making. Without it, young people who might move on to professional commitment simply do not get started! Without it the appreciative audience for classical music does not exist. For this reason QSCM supports local students and amateur music making even as our performance events involve only professional performances by accomplished concert artists. 2018 saw an increase in exchanges and sharing between QSCM and local arts organizations, both amateur or student and professional towards improving audiences for all.

Chamber music is music made by friends, for friends. I think we can see that we have accomplished this tone in all of our events to date. Maintaining it remains the guiding principle behind all our programming. As we prepare to launch our fifth season in the fall of 2019, QSCM can definitely say that we are changing the local landscape in terms of opportunities the hear professional performances of live classical music, and making that music accessible to all. 2018 was a very good year!

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