As the Prince George Symphony Orchestra (PGSO) gets ready to celebrate its 50th season, it's still looking for a forever home in the community.
During a delegation to city council last night (Sept. 14), PGSO general manager Teresa Saunders noted this fact when she presented the orchestra’s 50th season plan, which has been adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We come tonight to ask you to consider how important it is for the Prince George Symphony Orchestra to have a home,” said Saunders.
“For the past 50 years, we have played in venues rented from the city, the university, churches, community halls, hotels and the school district.”
She said the PGSO’s largest venue, Vanier Hall, is no longer considered a community concert hall as programming for Prince George Secondary School is a higher priority.
“This leaves us in a somewhat precarious position when it comes to scheduling rehearsals and concerts,” said Saunders, regarding finding a permanent home.
She adds because none of those halls are available, Prestige Treasure Cove Resort stepped up to offer the PGSO its main ballroom at no charge.
“Acknowledging the financial challenge the city is facing at the present time, we beg you to consider building a city concert hall that will serve our needs and that of many other organizations including the city of Prince George in its desire to increase its convention facilities overtime,” said Saunders.
The PGSO is asking city council to include consideration for building a concert hall in this fall’s strategic planning.
“If not a short term goal then at least a midterm goal,” added Saunders.
“We see it as critical for the development of our city as a place for all people to enjoy a robust and rich array of leisure activities for all citizens.”
Councilors Cori Ramsay and Kyle Sampson responded by saying they would put the PGSO’s request on their list of things to discuss.
“Thank you for your candour and your honesty when you plead for a concert hall,” said Sampson.
“I see the importance of that in our community as well. Whether it’s in the near future or the long future, we can have those conversations and hopefully, at some point, make something like that happen in our community.”
As for the 50th season, PGSO fall concerts will be held in the ballroom of the Prestige Treasure Cove Resort and each program will be performed four times on the concert weekend.
There will only be 50 attendees at each concert, as per the B.C. Health Ministry's regulations.
Concert goers are asked to bring a mask and wear it upon entering or leaving or when not seated. If anyone forgets a mask the PGSO will provide one.
The concerts will be 60 to 70 minutes long with no intermission, but refreshments will be available prior to the concert.
“Our plan is to plan the seasons in two parts. If all goes well - if we can ensure people we can keep them safe, and if our musicians desire to play as they do now, then we will have a winter and spring season as well,” explained Saunders.
The first two fall concerts will be presented by the PGSO’s Core professional musicians, joined by community bass musician Susan Kelly and Vancouver violist Thomas Beckman.
In November, the PGSO will welcome Maestro Michael Hall back to Prince George to conduct two “small orchestra” concerts.
For many, the highlight of the fall classics series will undoubtedly be the return of Les Dala as guest pianist for the Autumn Revival IV concert.
To close the season, the PGSO will present the children’s concert "Winter Wonderland" on Dec. 5.
During the PGSO’s anniversary year, the orchestra will also be launching a legacy fund drive as donations will go towards the PGSO’s endowment fund through the Prince George Community Foundation.
“Our goal is to increase the principal of the endowment fund and grow the interest revenue to create a savings fund that will see us through the financial ups and downs for the next 50 years and cease the begging that we have done to city council’s in the past,” explained Saunders.
You can buy tickets and see the full PGSO fall season schedule online, or pick up tickets at Studio 2880 on 15 Avenue.