Announcing Symphony Nova Scotia’s 2023/24 Season, celebrating our 40th anniversary

Halifax/K’jipuktuk, NS – The 2023/24 season is one of celebration for Symphony Nova Scotia. We honour the legacy of a significant 40-year history and look to the future with new compositions, modern twists on familiar favourites, and the first full provincial tour since 2007.

This province is fortunate to have access to a professional orchestra recognized nationally for its innovation and creativity,” says Symphony Board Chair Peter MacAskill.

The community’s support all these years is what has powered its longevity. We couldn’t be more grateful to the citizens of Nova Scotia who have attended our concerts, participated in our special events, and donated their time and resources to sustain this important cultural organization.”

It’s an honour to be leading this prestigious orchestra at this time in its history,” says Symphony Music Director Holly Mathieson. “We follow in the footsteps of wonderful Music Directors and players who devoted themselves to the wider musical and cultural life of Nova Scotia, who provided a nexus between centuries-old European traditions and ‘new world’ optimism and vision.”

In 1986, I started with the Symphony as a young violin player, taking on many administrative responsibilities until my appointment as CEO in 2013,” says Symphony CEO Chris Wilkinson.

I’ve witnessed how the Symphony has established itself as an important cultural anchor in the Province, as well as captivated hundreds and thousands of audiences with symphony music for everyone – from Mahler to Bhangra. It’s been a humbling experience.”

The Symphony’s classical Spotlight concerts take place at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax on Thursday and Friday evenings. The Symphonic and Maritime Fusion concerts, mixing popular music and Maritime artists with a full symphony orchestra, are offered on weekends, also at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. And our Baroque concerts, highlighting the timeless music from the Baroque era, are performed at St. Andrew’s United Church in Halifax.

Detailed information about the 2023/24 season is available on Symphony Nova Scotia’s website. Series and U-Pick ticket packages are on sale now!



In the last 40 years, Symphony Nova Scotia has developed special relationships with many artists who will return to our stage in the 2023/24 season:


We’re also very excited to collaborate with many excellent guest artists for the first time:


2023/24 brings you even more of the fun, exciting, and spectacular special concerts:

  • Baroque specialist Ivars Taurins of Tafelmusik is returning to lead our holiday favourite Messiah, alongside the Symphony Chorus under the direction of Joel Tranquilla.
  • Our beloved Nutcracker is back, in partnership with Halifax Dance and Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia.
  • We’re thrilled for the return of Video Games Live with new music after a six-year absence.
  • And in February 2024, we’ll present a special performance of Shostakovich’s Ninth with the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra to celebrate our 40th Season – and at 1983 prices!



For the first time since 2007, Symphony Nova Scotia and guest artist Canadian cellist Denise Djokic will travel to eight communities around the Province with a program featuring works by Franz Joseph Haydn, Louise Farrenc, and Dinuk Wijeratne, plus a new work by Symphony Nova Scotia bassoonist L. Christopher Palmer. Tour destinations include Amherst, Antigonish, Glace Bay, Lunenburg, Mabou, New Glasgow, Wolfville, and Yarmouth.


Returning in 2023/24 is our Digital Series of livestreamed concerts! This season will feature on-demand access to three full-length, online Symphony Nova Scotia concerts including Bernhard Conducts Beethoven & Mahler, Beethoven Piano Concertos with Jon Kimura Parker (Part 2), and Holly Conducts Ravel & Debussy. Audiences have the opportunity to livestream the concert at home on the evening of the performance, and then they have seven additional days to view it again!


Our beloved Family Series continues in 2023/24 with three performances in January, February, and April. Naomi Woo will conduct a Heritage Day program, and conductor Jennifer Tung leads a nature-inspired Earth Day program. Our Artist in Residence and Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser will also return with a special new program.

We are pleased to introduce a celebration of community volunteers. Starting in September, the first of 23 local non-profit service agencies will bring 40 of their volunteers to enjoy a concert, compliments of Symphony Nova Scotia.

This season, the Symphony will introduce the Bernhard Gueller Conductor Fellowship, a new initiative to provide hands-on training to emerging Canadian conductors. Further details will be shared in the fall of 2023, along with the announcement of the first fellowship recipient.


The Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra will perform three of its own concerts in October, December, and May. They will also team up with Symphony Nova Scotia for a special performance of Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony on February 25, 2024. The youth orchestra is a key Symphony education program that provides young musicians with the chance to enhance their musical as well as leadership skills.


To celebrate and record 40 years of music making, we’re pleased to co-publish with Nimbus Publishing Symphony Nova Scotia at 40: A Milestone of Musical History. This commemorative book, written by local authors and longtime friends of the Symphony Mary Lu MacDonald, Adrian Hoffman, and Jane Gordon, will be available in September 2023.



Treasured works from the orchestral canon that continue to inspire joy, reflection, happiness, and hope make up our premier Spotlight series.

Denise Djokic Plays Haydn
7:30 pm / Thu. Oct. 12, 2023
Featuring: Holly Mathieson, conductor
Denise Djokic, cello

  • Dinuk Wijeratne: Yatra
  • Franz Joseph Haydn: Cello Concerto in C Major
  • L. Christopher Palmer: 40th Anniversary Commission
  • Louise Farrenc: Symphony No. 3

Bernhard Conducts Beethoven & Mahler
7:30 pm / Thu. Nov. 16, 2023
Featuring: Bernhard Gueller, conductor
Brett Polegato, baritone

  • Richard Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
  • Gustav Mahler: Kindertotenlieder
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3

Magnificent Mozart
7:30 pm / Thu. Feb. 1, 2024
Featuring: Barbara Dragan, conductor
Demarre McGill, flute

  • Ljubica Marić: Music for Orchestra
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 1 in G
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C Major, “Jupiter”

Holly Conducts Shostakovich
7:30 pm / Thu. Feb. 15, 2024
Featuring: Holly Mathieson, conductor
Elina Vähälä, violin

  • Sergei Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1, “Classical”
  • Juliet Palmer: Firebreak
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No. 2

Lucas Porter Plays Gershwin
7:30 pm / Thu. Feb. 29, 2024
Featuring: Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, conductor
Lucas Porter, piano
Marie-Josée Lord, soprano

  • Duke Ellington, arr. Collier: The River
  • André Previn: Honey and Rue
  • George Gershwin: My Man’s Gone Now / Summertime / Embraceable You / Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off / Rhapsody in Blue

Beethoven Piano Concertos with Jon Kimura Parker
7:30 pm / Thu. Mar. 21, 2024 (Part 1)
7:30 pm / Fri. Mar. 22, 2024 (Part 2)
Featuring: Holly Mathieson, conductor
Jon Kimura Parker, piano

  • Part 1: Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto Nos. 2, 3, & 4
  • Part 2: Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto Nos. 1 & 5, “Emperor”

Holly Conducts Ravel & Debussy
7:30 pm / Thu. Apr. 18, 2024
Featuring: Holly Mathieson, conductor
Philip Chiu, piano

  • Igor Stravinsky: Danses Concertantes
  • Claude Debussy: Prélude à “L’après-midi d’un faune”
  • Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major
  • Francis Poulenc: Sinfonietta

Ode to Joy: Holly Conducts Beethoven’s Ninth
7:30 pm / Fri. May 3, 2024
7:30 pm / Sat. May 4, 2024
Featuring: Holly Mathieson, conductor
Miriam Khalil, soprano
Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano
Ernesto Ramirez, tenor
Jorell Williams, baritone
Joel Tranquilla, chorus master
Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus with the Halifax Camerata Singers

  • Hussein Janmohamed & Russell Wallace: Gatherings
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9


From rock royalty to folk giants, Hollywood star power to the era of big band, this collection of concerts is an audience favourite.

Big Band Hit Parade
7:30 pm / Sat. Oct. 28, 2023
2:00 pm / Sun. Oct. 29, 2023
Featuring Greg Burton, conductor
Mike Murley, saxophone

The Music of Queen
7:30 pm / Fri. Jan. 26, 2024
7:30 pm / Sat. Jan. 27, 2024
2:00 pm / Sun. Jan. 28, 2024
Featuring Greg Burton, conductor
Jeans ‘n Classics

A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot with J.P. Cormier
7:30 pm / Fri. Feb. 9, 2024
7:30 pm / Sat. Feb. 10, 2024
Featuring: Martin MacDonald, conductor
J.P. Cormier, vocals and guitar

Jim Witter Grooves to Simon & Garfunkel
7:30 pm / Fri. Apr. 5, 2024
7:30 pm / Sat. Apr. 6, 2024
2:00 pm / Sun. Apr. 7, 2024
Featuring Greg Burton, conductor
Jim Witter, piano and vocals

Blockbuster Movie Hits: Heroes and Heroines
7:30 pm / Sat. Apr 13, 2024
2:00 pm / Sun. Apr 14, 2024
Featuring: Lucas Waldin, conductor
Mark Lee, violin
Richard Simoneau, trumpet


Symphony Nova Scotia combines stunning orchestral arrangements with some of Atlantic Canada’s best music.

Natalie MacMaster Opening Night Reunion
7:30 pm / Thu. Sep. 28, 2023
7:30 pm / Fri. Sep. 29, 2023
Featuring: Natalie MacMaster, fiddle
Scott Macmillan, conductor

Afro-Cuban Roots with OKAN
7:30 pm / Fri. Nov. 10, 2023
Featuring: OKAN
Holly Mathieson, conductor
This concert is co-presented with Prismatic Festival, a national, multidisciplinary arts festival that showcases and celebrates innovative work by Indigenous artists and artists of colour from across Canada.

Home for the Holidays with Holly Cole
7:30 pm / Fri. Dec. 1, 2023
7:30 pm / Sat. Dec. 2, 2023
Featuring: Holly Cole, vocals
Greg Burton, conductor

7:30 pm / Fri. Apr. 26, 2024
Featuring: Hillsburn
Trevor Wilson, conductor

Reeny & Mahalia Smith
7:30 pm / Fri. May 10, 2024
Featuring: Reeny Smith & Mahalia Smith
Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, conductor


Enjoy the timeless music of the Baroque era with performances of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and more.

Handel’s Royal Fireworks
7:30 pm / Sat. Nov. 25, 2023
2:00 pm / Sun. Nov. 26, 2023
Featuring: Julia Wedman, leader/violin
Hélène Brunet, soprano

  • George Frideric Handel: Royal Fireworks Music / Chaconne from Terpsicore / “Da tempeste” from Giulio Cesare / “Myself I shall adore” from Semele / “Affanni del pensier” from Ottone
  • Johann Adolph Hasse: Sinfonia in G Minor, Op. 5 No. 6
  • Georg Philipp Telemann: Concerto Grosso in D Major, TWV 54:D4

Bach’s Complete Brandenburg Concertos
7:30 pm / Sat. Jan. 20, 2024 (Part 1)
2:00 pm / Sun. Jan. 21, 2024 (Part 2)
Featuring: Julia Wedman, leader/violin
Symphony Nova Scotia soloists

  • Part 1: Johann Sebastian Bach: Brandenburg Concerto Nos. 1, 6, & 3
  • Part 2: Johann Sebastian Bach: Brandenburg Concerto Nos. 2, 5, & 4

Vibrant Vivaldi & Friends
2:00 pm / Sun. Mar. 17, 2024
Featuring: Mathieu Lussier, leader/bassoon
Magali Simard-Galdès, soprano
Isabelle Fournier, violin
Richard Simoneau, trumpet
Curtis Dietz, trumpet

  • Antonio Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in F Major, RV 569 / Motet in furore giustissimae irae, RV 626 / Concerto for Two Trumpets in C Major, RV 537
  • Plus works by Michel Corrette and Françoise Francoeur


Symphony Nova Scotia shares spectacular productions from holiday favourites to Video Games Live.

The Nutcracker
7:30 pm / Dec. 8, 9, 15, 16, 2023
2:00 pm / Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 2023
4:00 pm / Dec. 14, 2023
Featuring Halifax Dance and Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker

Handel’s Messiah
7:30 pm / Thu. Dec. 21, 2023
7:30 pm / Fri. Dec. 22, 2023
Featuring: Ivars Taurins, conductor
Myriam Leblanc, soprano
Nicholas Burns, counter tenor
James Reese, tenor
Clarence Frazer, baritone
Joel Tranquilla, chorus master
Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus with Halifax Camerata Singers

  • George Frideric Handel: Messiah

40 Year Special: Shostakovich’s Ninth
2:00 pm / Sun. Feb. 25, 2024
Featuring: Holly Mathieson, conductor
The Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra

  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Festive Overture
  • Jocelyn Morlock: Hullabaloo
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9

Video Games Live
7:30 pm / Fri. Mar. 8, 2024
2:00 pm / Sat. Mar. 9, 2024
7:30 pm / Sat. Mar. 9, 2024


*Concert programs and guest artists are subject to change.

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