Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) is a Canadian orchestra based in Edmonton, Alberta. As the professional orchestra of Alberta's creative capital city it presents over 85 concerts a year of symphonic music in all genres, from classical to country. Currently in its 67th season, the orchestra is composed of 56 core professional musicians who perform 42 weeks per season and who play an active role in the musical life of Edmonton and elsewhere as performers, teachers and recording artists. The ESO also performs as the orchestra for Edmonton Opera and Alberta Ballet productions, and its recordings are regularly heard across Canada on CBC Radio 2.

Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Founded1952; 68 years ago (1952)
LocationEdmonton, Alberta, Canada
Concert hallFrancis Winspear Centre for Music
Principal conductorAlexander Prior


The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra at the Winspear Centre

The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra was initially formed as Edmonton's community orchestra and gave its first concert on November 14, 1920. The orchestra suspended operations in 1932, but was revived on October 31, 1952, when it was incorporated as a registered not-for-profit organization (the Edmonton Symphony Society), and gave its first performance on November 30, 1952. It made the transition to a fully professional orchestra in 1971. In 1973, it was decided to restrict the orchestra to "classical" size. Today the ESO's budget is over $10 million, and its players are the highest paid Canadian orchestral musicians west of Toronto.

Music directors, conductors, concertmasters, and artistic leadersEdit

Music and Artistic Directors


  • Cosette Justo Valdés 2019- (Assistant Conductor)
  • Lucas Waldin 2009-2012 (Resident Conductor)
  • Petar Dundjerski 2006-2008 (Assistant Conductor in Residence)
  • Kazuyoshi Akiyama 2004-2005 (Principal Guest Conductor)
  • Franz-Paul Decker 2003-2004 (Principal Guest Conductor)
  • David Hoyt 1985-2002 (Resident Guest Conductor, Resident Conductor), 2002-2003 (Artistic Director)
  • Peter Nero 1984-1985 (Pops Music Director)
  • Daniel Swift 1983-1984 (Assistant Conductor)
  • Yuval Zaliouk 1980-1981 (Interim Principal Conductor)
  • Mitch Miller 1979-1982 (Principal Guest Conductor for Pops)
  • Peter McCoppin 1978-1980 (Assistant Conductor)
  • John Barnum 1975-1977 (Assistant Conductor)
  • Tom Rolston 1960-1964 (Associate Conductor)


  • Robert Uchida 2013-present
  • Eric Buchmann (interim) 2010-2013
  • Martin Riseley 1994-2010
  • Eric Buchmann, Richard Caldwell, Virginie Gagné, Broderyk Olson (interim, in rotation) 2009-2010
  • John Lowry 2002-2003 (interim)
  • James Keene 1972-1994
  • Charles (Karol) Dobiáš 1970-1972
  • Marguerite Marzantowicz 1960-1964 (interim), 1964–1970
  • Tom Rolston 1958-1964
  • Walter Holowach 1957-1958 (interim)
  • Alexander Nicol 1952-1957

Performing venueEdit

The Francis Winspear Centre for Music

In September 1997, the Edmonton Symphony Society and the Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation successfully completed a two-decade, $45 million capital campaign, and the ESO moved from the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (the orchestra's principal performing venue since 1957) into its new concert hall, the acoustically superb, 1716 seat Francis Winspear Centre for Music. The inaugural gala, at which the ESO performed Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, took place on September 13, 1997.

Community commitment, programming and tours, special concertsEdit

Community commitment The ESO is committed to serving its entire community, through eclectic programming choices and innovative education and outreach activities. Each season, almost 30,000 students experience the orchestra's music at the Winspear Centre. The Young Composers Project, with local composers as mentors, allows select high school students to compose orchestral works and hear them in performance. The orchestra's annual outdoor Symphony Under the Sky Festival is a popular destination for Edmontonians on Labour Day weekend.

Programming and tours

"Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra"

The ESO's history and the varied nature of its programming reflect its imaginative commitment to its community.

Special concerts

Special ESO concerts drawing sold-out houses have featured, among others, k.d. lang in 1985, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider in 1989, The Arrogant Worms in 2002, Corb Lund in 2005, Paul Brandt in 2006, Video Games Live in 2007, Nikki Yanofsky in 2008, reunion concerts with Procol Harum in 1992 and 2010, Ben Folds in 2012 and 2014, and Ian Tyson on the 100th anniversary of the Province of Alberta on September 1, 2005. In March 2011, the ESO presented a memorable concert devoted exclusively to the music of Frank Zappa, and in December 2005, the orchestra returned to the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium to present two sold-out Christmas concerts with Christian singer/pianist Michael W. Smith. The orchestra continues this tradition of working with musicians from a variety of musical genres. In December 2012, the orchestra performed two Christmas concerts with the Barenaked Ladies. In December 2017, the orchestra performed four Christmas concerts with Jann Arden.

Composers in residenceEdit

John McPherson was appointed the orchestra's fourth Composer in Residence in August 2016.

Robert Rival, the orchestra's third Composer in Residence (2011-2014) wrote six major works for the orchestra during his residency:

  • Delights & Discords (2014)
  • Northwest Passage Variations (2014)
  • Symphony No. 2 "Water" (2013)
  • Achilles and Scamander (2012)
  • Lullaby (2012)
  • Whirlwind (2012)
Allan Gilliland

Allan Gilliland, the ESO's second Composer in Residence (2000–2004) composed nine major works for the orchestra, as well as a colorful new orchestration of Canada's national anthem. Before his residency, Gilliland had been commissioned to write two works for the ESO. Following his residency, he was commissioned to write two jazz-flavoured works: a rhapsody for piano and orchestra, and a suite for trumpet and orchestra.

  • Dreaming of the Masters III (2010) (funded by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts)
  • Dreaming of the Masters II (Rhapsody GEB) (2008) (co-commission with CBC)
  • Above the Fold (2004)
  • Calixa Lavallée O Canada (new orchestration) (2004)
  • Dreaming of the Masters I (2003)
  • Gaol's Ruadh Ròs – A Celtic Concerto for Two Harps (2003)
  • Always Be True (2002)
  • Violin Concerto (2002)
  • A Wild Symphonic Ride (2002)
  • Loch na Beiste (2001)
  • On the Shoulders of Giants (2001)
  • Shadows and Light (2000)
  • Winspear Fanfare (1997)
  • Trumpet Concerto (1994)
John Estacio

John Estacio was the ESO's first Composer in Residence (1992–1999). He also produced nine major works for the orchestra during his residency:

  • The Twins and the Monster (2001)
  • The Brass Ring (1999)
  • Frenergy (1998)
  • Concerto for Piano, Violin and Cello (1997)
  • Wondrous Light (1997)
  • Borealis (1997)
  • Victims of Us All (1996)
  • A Farmer's Symphony (1994)
  • Alegria (1994)

Canadian commissionsEdit

Composers Allan Gilliland, Malcolm Forsyth, Allan Gordon Bell, John Estacio, and Jeffrey McCune following the Edmonton Symphony's performance of their music in April 2005

The ESO has a long tradition of commissioning and performing works by Canadian – and particularly Albertan – composers. On April 29, 2005 the ESO presented a highly acclaimed concert of music by five contemporary Alberta composers – Allan Gordon Bell, John Estacio, Malcolm Forsyth, Allan Gilliland and Jeffrey McCune – in Southam Hall at Ottawa's National Arts Centre as part of the Alberta Scene festival. In May 2012, the ESO performed the US premieres of music by its first three Composers in Residence at Carnegie Hall's second annual Spring for Music festival.

Works commissioned by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra include:

  • Louis Applebaum Concertante / Prelude / Incantation / Sinfonia / Evocations for Two Pianos and Orchestra
  • Violet Archer Prelude - incantation / Sinfonia
  • Allan Gordon Bell Symphonies of Hidden Fire
  • Patrick Cardy Trobadores
  • George Fiala [uk] Overtura Buffa
  • Malcolm Forsyth Symphony No. 2 '... A Host of Nomads...' / Requiem for the Victims in a Wartorn World / Siyajabula! We Rejoice! / A Ballad of Canada
  • Allan Gilliland Dreaming of the Masters II
  • Stewart Grant Symphony ("Et in Terra…")
  • Ronald Hannah Suite of orchestral dances: the common air that bathes the globe
  • Jacques Hétu Concerto for Organ
  • Yuri Laniuk Palimpsesty
  • Raymond Luedeke Tales of the Netsilik
  • Rod McKuen The Ballad of Distances - Symphonic Suite, Opus 40
  • François Morel Neumes d'espace et reliefs
  • Jeffrey McCune Aquamarine / Dance Suite / Overture Sauvage
  • John McPherson Walk in Beauty
  • Kelly-Marie Murphy Utterances
  • Cha Ka Nin Memento Mori
  • Randolph Peters WildFire
  • Laurie Radford a tangle in the throat
  • Manus Sasonkin Musica post prandia
  • Robert Turner Shades of Autumn

Commercial discography and videographyEdit

Procol Harum Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

(Procol Harum, Da Camera Singers, Lawrence Leonard conductor, 1972)

Conquistador / Whaling Stories / A Salty Dog / All This and More / In Held 'Twas In I / Luskus Delph / Simple Sister (Rehearsal Version) / Shine on Brightly (Rehearsal Version) / A Salty Dog (Rehearsal Version) / Luskus Delph (Rehearsal Version)
Music by Haydn, Debussy, Wirén

(Boris Brott 1 and John Avison 2 conductors, 1973)

Haydn Symphony No. 99 1 / Debussy Petit suite: En bateau 2 / Wirén March 2
McKuen The Ballad Of Distances: Symphonic Suite, Opus 40

(Tommy Banks conductor, 1973)

Scarlet and Gold / L'Escarlet et L'Or - Alberta R.C.M.P. Century Celebrations, 1874-1974

(Tommy Banks conductor, 1974)

Dere Overture / Rebellion / Tribute to the R.C.M.P.
Music by Wolf, Purcell, Adaskin, Warlock

(Pierre Hétu conductor, 1975)

Wolf Italian Serenade / Purcell The Married Beau Suite (Arr. Holst) / Adaskin Diversion for orchestra (an entertainment) / Warlock Six Italian Dances
Music by Ibert, Françaix, Rameau

(Pierre Hétu conductor, 1976)

Ibert Suite symphonique: "Paris" / Françaix Sérénade / Rameau Les fêtes d'Hébé
Orchestral Suites of the British Isles

(Uri Mayer conductor, 1983)

Vaughan Williams English Folk Song Suite / Warlock Capriol Suite / Harty A John Field Suite
Great Tenor Arias

(Ermanno Mauro tenor, Uri Mayer conductor, 1984)

Bizet "La fleur que tu m’avais jetée" (Carmen) / Massenet "O Souverain, ô juge, ô père!" (Le Cid) / Puccini "Che gelida manina" (La bohème) / Leoncavallo "Recitar!...Vesti la giubba" (Pagliacci) / Verdi "Niun mi tema" (Otello) / Gounod "Ah! lêve-toi, soleil" (Roméo et Juliette) / Massenet "Pourquoi me réveiller?" (Werther) / Puccini "E lucevan le stelle" (Tosca) / Puccini "Nessun dorma" (Turandot) / Giordano "Un dì all'azzuro spazio", also known as "L'improvviso" (Andrea Chénier) / Verdi "Ma se m'è forza perderti" (Un ballo in maschera) / Verdi "Ah si, ben mio...Di quella pira" (Il trovatore)
Great Verdi Arias

(Louis Quilico baritone, Uri Mayer conductor, 1984)

"E sogno o realtà?" (Falstaff) / "Morir! tremenda cosa...Urna fatale de mio destino" (La forza del destino) / "Cortigiani, vil razza dannata" (Rigoletto) / "Vanne! la tua meta già vedo...Credo in un Dio crude!" Otello) / "Perfidi!...Pietà, rispetto, amore" (Macbeth) / "Tutto è deserto...Il Balen del suo soriso" (Il trovatore) / "Di Provenza il mar, il suol" (La traviata) / "Alzati! là tuo figlio...Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima" (Un ballo in maschera)
Music by Forsyth and Freedman

(Uri Mayer conductor, 1985)

Freedman Oiseaux exotiques / Forsyth Atayoskewin (Juno Award: Best Classical Composition)
Canadian and Russian Overtures

(Uri Mayer conductor, 1986)

Forsyth Jubilee Overture / Ridout Fall Fair / Morawetz Overture to a Fairy Tale / Shostakovich Festive Overture, Opus 96 / Borodin Prince Igor: Overture / Kabalevsky Colas Breugnon: Overture / Glinka Russlan and Ludmilla: Overture
Fiala The Kurelek Suite

(Uri Mayer conductor, 1987)

Harp Concertos

(Gianetta Baril harp, Uri Mayer conductor, 1987)

Ginastera Harp Concerto, Opus 25 / Morawetz Concerto for Harp and Chamber Orchestra (Juno Award: Best Classical Composition)
Great Orchestral Marches

(Uri Mayer conductor, 1988)

Fučík Entrance of the Gladiators / Alford Colonel Bogey / Sousa Stars and Stripes Forever / Elgar Pomp & Circumstance No. 4 / Farnon State Occasion / Papineau-Couture Marche de Guillaument / Beethoven Turkish March (from The Ruins of Athens) / Schubert Marche Militaire / Johann Strauss I Radetzky March / Healey Willan Centennial March / Delibes Cortège de Bacchus / Tchaikovsky Jurisprudence March / Michael Conway Baker March (Evocations, Movement II) / Adaskin March No. 2 / Halvorsen Triumphal Entry of the Boyars / Grieg "March of the Dwarfs" (from Lyric Suite / Herbert March of the Toys (from Babes in Toyland) / Rodgers March of the Siamese Children (from The King & I) / John Williams The Imperial March (from The Empire Strikes Back)
Works for Cello and Orchestra

(Shauna Rolston cello, Uri Mayer conductor, 1989)

Morawetz Memorial to Martin Luther King / Bruch Kol Nidrei, Opus 47 / Fauré Élégie for Cello and Orchestra, Opus 24 / Dvořák Silent Woods, Opus 68 No. 5 / Bliss Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
The Symphony Sessions

(Tom Cochrane, Red Rider, George Blondheim conductor, 1989)

Light in the Tunnel / Human Race / Can’t Turn Back / Napoleon Sheds His Skin / White Hot / Big League / Calling America / Avenue "A" / Bird on a Wire / Boy Inside the Man / Lunatic Fringe / Good Times / The Next Life
Music by Britten and Willan

(Uri Mayer conductor, 1993)

Britten Canadian Carnival, Opus 19 / Britten Peter Grimes: Four Sea Interludes, Opus 33a / Willan Symphony No. 2 in C minor
Russian Sketches

(Uri Mayer conductor, 1997)

Ippolitov-Ivanov Caucasian Sketches, Opus 10 / Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin, Opus 24: Polonaise / Tchaikovsky The Sleeping Beauty, Opus 66: Waltz / Shostakovich The Age of Gold: Suite, Opus 22a: Polka / Borodin In the Steppes of Central Asia / Rimsky-Korsakov The Golden Cockerel: Suite
Electra Rising: Music of Malcolm Forsyth

(William Street saxophone, Amanda Forsyth cello, Grzegorz Nowak conductor, 1998)

Valley of a Thousand Hills / Tre Vie / Electra Rising (Juno Award: Best Classical Composition)
Music by Smetana and Janáček

(Grzegorz Nowak conductor, 1999)

Smetana Má vlast (original 1875 version) / Janáček Moravian Dances
P.J. Perry and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

(P.J. Perry, saxophone, David Hoyt conductor, 1999)

Django / Charlie Parker Medley / Bossa Nova Medley / They Kept Bach's Head Alive / Ballad Medley / Hand In Hand / Harlem Nocturne / The Old Castle / Strike Up The Band
Semi-Conducted (CD) / Three Worms and an Orchestra (DVD)

(The Arrogant Worms, David Hoyt conductor, 2003)

Overture / Big Fat Road Manager / Canada's Really Big / Rocks and Trees / Log In to You / I am Cow / Last Saskatchewan Pirate / Gaelic Song / Me Like Hockey / Carrot Juice is Murder / Dangerous / Billy the Theme Park Shark / Celine Dion / We are the Beaver
Frenergy: The Music of John Estacio

(Mario Bernardi conductor, 2004)

Frenergy / A Farmer's Symphony / Bootlegger's Tarantella / Such Sweet Sorrow / Solaris / Borealis / Wondrous Light
Steve Bell in concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (DVD)

(Steve Bell, vocalist, Rei Hotoda conductor, 2008)

Here By the Water / Deep Calls to Deep / Waiting for Aidan / Burning Ember / Lord of the Starfields / Even So / Wellspring / Holy Lord
Carl Czerny - A Rediscovered Genius

(Jolaine Kerley soprano, Joy-Anne Murphy alto, Benjamin Butterfield tenor, Paul Grindlay bass, André Moisan clarinet, Grzegorz Nowak 1 and Leonard Ratzlaff 2 conductors, 2011; recorded in 2002)

Grand Overture in C minor, Opus 142 1 / Overture in E major 2 / Offertorium: "Benedicat nos Deus", Opus 737 2
Logos Futura

(Antonio Peruch accordion, Grzegorz Nowak conductor, 2011; recorded in 2001)

Forsyth Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra
A Concert for New York

(Angela Cheng piano, Denise Djokic cello, Juliette Kang violin, Jens Lindemann trumpet, William Eddins conductor, 2013)

Robert Rival Lullaby / Estacio Triple Concerto / Gilliland Dreaming of the Masters III / Martinů Symphony No. 1 / Bernstein "Mambo" (from Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story")
True North - The Canadian Songbook

(Eleanor McCain vocalist, Denise Djokic cello, Paul Pike native flute, Pro Coro Canada, Martin MacDonald conductor, 2017)

McLachlan Angel (Arranged by Darren Fung) / Robertson Broken Arrow (Arranged by Don Breithaupt) / MacLellan Snowbird (Arranged by Don Breithaupt)


  • Henighan, Tom (2000). The Maclean's Companion to Canadian Arts and Culture. Raincoast Books. ISBN 1-55192-298-3.
  • "Resonances, Reminiscences & Repercussions: The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra at Fifty" by Jerry Ozipko in The Alberta New Music and Arts Review, pp 100-115, Vol. III/IV, No. 4/5, Fall 1999/Fall 2002.

External linksEdit

See alsoEdit