Symphony Nova Scotia reports strong sales and donations, ongoing Music Director Search at AGM


For Immediate Release
October 2, 2018

Halifax, NS – Symphony Nova Scotia’s 2017/18 Annual General Meeting, held October 1, 2018 at the Dalhousie Arts Centre, reported a very successful season with strong ticket sales and donations, a new summer series, and increased funding from the Canada Council for the Arts. It also reported on the orchestra’s ongoing search for a new Music Director, after the much-loved Maestro Gueller moved into the role of Music Director Laureate in summer 2018.

“The 2017/18 season was a great success for Symphony Nova Scotia and a wonderful celebration of Maestro Bernhard Gueller’s 16-year tenure as Music Director,” says Gail Morris, Chair of the Symphony’s 2017/18 Board of Directors.

“Our Education and Community Outreach activities continue to blossom and engage new audience across the province, and our ticket sales continue to break records throughout the year. These great successes and the continued support of our patrons and donors have laid a solid foundation for the search for our new Music Director into 2018/19.”

Gail Morris will continue to serve as Chair of Symphony Nova Scotia’s Board of Directors throughout the 2018/19 season. At the AGM, the orchestra also welcomed five new members to its volunteer Board of Directors:

Jennifer Angel, President and CEO, Develop Nova Scotia (formerly Waterfront Development)
Dr. Jane Gordon, Professor Emeritus, Mount Saint Vincent University
Brian Rendell, VP Finance and Commercial, Emera Newfoundland and Labrador
Bob Widdowson, Partner, KPMG
David Wilson, President, Wilsons Security

The orchestra also said thank you and farewell to two outgoing Board members: Mary Lu MacDonald and Grant Machum.

2018/19 Activities and Highlights
At the AGM, Symphony Nova Scotia reported on some major highlights in 2018/19, including:

Audience support: In 2017/18, Symphony Nova Scotia ticket sales increased by 14% in ticket revenue over 2016/17, following previous annual increases of 14% and 6%. Throughout the 2017/18 season, which ran from September through May, the orchestra sold over 45,000 tickets, an increase of 9% over the previous season. The orchestra also presented a record 61 ticketed performances, with 38 concerts at over 90% capacity. The season’s most popular concerts included highlights like Matt Andersen, the Music of ABBA, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Ben Caplan, The Nutcracker, Video Games Live, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Private sector support: Donations from individuals to the Symphony also saw continued strength in 2017/18. Thanks to the generosity of the Symphony’s many supporters, as well as thoughtful stewardship from the Symphony’s fundraising team, private sector donations continued to provide 29% of the Symphony’s annual revenue. The orchestra also welcomed eight new members to its Legacy Circle, a group of committed donors who have indicated their wish to leave gifts in their estate plans.

Artistic success: Symphony Nova Scotia saw a high level of artistic success throughout the 2017/18 season. In celebration of Maestro Gueller’s final season as Music Director, the orchestra presented his “Bucket List” – a lineup of artistically exciting concerts featuring music and guest artists dear to Maestro Gueller. The orchestra also premiered its first commission through the groundbreaking Maria Anna Mozart Award, a fund established in 2016 to support the work of Canadian woman composers. Another artistic highlight was made possible through a special donation from Symphony supporters and local philanthropists Margaret and David Fountain, whose generous gift allowed the orchestra to perform a rare concert with the acclaimed Viennese soprano Daniela Fally, a top-tier performer and international star.

Summer season: In 2017/18, Symphony Nova Scotia presented its first-ever summer season, thanks to support from the Province of Nova Scotia. This lineup of free summer concerts included a diverse “Celebrate Nova Scotia” program, featuring Mi’kmaw drummer Trevor Gould and vocalist Reeny Smith; a charming outdoor performance with Halifax Pride; and a blockbuster Tall Ships performance with Natalie MacMaster on the Halifax Waterfront, reaching more than 10,000 residents and tourists.

Education and community outreach: The orchestra continued its wide variety of community outreach programs throughout Nova Scotia, including its popular student matinees, the Classical Munchkins program, and free community concerts. The free Family Series saw another highly successful year, with almost 3,500 attendees creating filled-to-capacity audiences for each of the seven performances, and the continuation of the free Berkeley Seniors’ Concert series, which welcomed over 500 seniors to free performances on Tuesdays.

Symphony Nova Scotia Foundation: The orchestra’s arms-length Foundation continued to grow, and is currently valued at over $14 million. Thanks to careful management by the Foundation Board, including Chair Dale Godsoe, treasurer Alan Barkhouse, and secretary Tim Matthews, the Foundation’s transfer of $633,103 in 2017/18 was a crucial factor in the overall financial success of the season.

Bernhard Gueller Young Conductor Fellowship: In spring 2018, the Symphony Nova Scotia Foundation received an extra boost from the orchestra’s special “Farewell, Bernhard” event, held in honour of Maestro Gueller and his many contributions to Nova Scotia’s cultural life. The event welcomed many loyal donors and supporters, and thanks to their generosity, the orchestra raised $47,000 to establish the new Bernhard Gueller Young Conductor Fellowship, which will provide support and mentorship for young Canadian conductors.

Musicians: In 2017/18, the orchestra said a fond farewell to several of its excellent long-term musicians: Janet Dunsworth and Peter Stryniak (violin); Norman Adams (cello); and Ivor Rothwell (bassoon; will appear throughout 2018). The entire organization also keenly felt the passing in November 2017 of Jim Eager, who served as orchestra librarian and trombonist for over 25 years. Jim was a delight to be around, a pleasure to work with, and a dedicated, accomplished musician.

Symphony Nova Scotia’s full Annual Report and financial statements are available for viewing on Symphony Nova Scotia’s website at

About Symphony Nova Scotia
Symphony Nova Scotia is Nova Scotia’s orchestra. With a home base in Halifax and performances across the province, Symphony Nova Scotia reaches more than 50,000 Nova Scotians of all ages each year with a diverse mix of concerts, free community programs, and educational outreach. Symphony Nova Scotia is the largest employer in Nova Scotia’s cultural community, and has won many awards, including five East Coast Music Awards for classical music. Visit to learn more, listen online, or get tickets today!