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Hallowe’en Masquerade Ball

Savour Our Symphony

For years the PEI Symphony has held an annual dinner fundraiser in late Spring but this year things will be different!

On October 30th the PEI Symphony presents a new annual tradition – a Hallowe’en Masquerade Ball & Roving Feast entitled Savour Our Symphony! The event is open to the public, to symphony supporters and beyond for anyone who would enjoy a fun evening of gourmet food, classical music featuring an ensemble performing a dance macabre, followed by big band and pop dance music.

PEISO Dinner ad Oct 2015

The masquerade ball and dance begins at 6:30pm at the Culinary Institute of Canada with a reception and silent auction viewing, and at 7:30pm the dinner begins, featuring eight food stations staffed by gourmet chefs. Music and entertainment during dinner will be provided by The Singing Strings followed by PEI’s dynamic new string quintet the Atlantic String Machine, along with an ensemble performing a special Dance Macabre treat for Hallowe’en.

Immediately following the dinner, there will be Big Band Dance music featuring nostalgia big band charts of the 1930’s and 40’s featuring the Perry Williams Little Big Band, followed by dance music featuring hits of the 60’s to 80’s performed by Groove Company. It promises to be a fun-filled evening for concert supporters of all ages – gourmet food, a show, and big band dancing!

The event benefits one of the island’s cultural jewels – the sixty-member PEI Symphony Orchestra. For 48 years the PEISO has been performing four concerts a year with orchestral music from classical to pops that are enjoyed by concert goers of all ages. With your help the PEISO will have the necessary funds to “keep the music playing”! PEISO volunteers are out in the community gathering items for a silent auction and donations are encouraged. Every ticket and donation helps the PEISO continue its’ proud legacy of contribution to our community. As a federally registered charity, tax receipts are provided for a portion of each ticket sold and for contributions to the silent auction. We are all very fortunate to have a fine symphony orchestra here in PEI, and support from local music fans make it all possible. This is the PEISO’s most important fundraiser of the year.

Tickets for the Hallowe-en Masquerade Ball are $120 each, $200 for a couple and $800 for a table of eight. Each ticket provides a tax receipt for a $50 donation.

Please call 902-892-5637 to order your tickets now!

For information about the upcoming season or any other inquiries please call 902-892-4333.

Our 2015 – 2016 Season is here!

The PEI Symphony Orchestra announces four extraordinary concerts including guest soloists Suzie LeBlanc, Leo Marchildon, Branden Kelly and Karem Simon, and guest conductor Dinuk Wijeratne.  Don’t miss Prince Edward Island’s best orchestral and contemporary music together on one stage – and help Keep the Music Playing!

On Sunday October 18th the PEI Symphony returns to the beautiful Zion Presbyterian Church for the first concert of its 48th season. Under the leadership of PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro, the PEISO will present “Symphonic Poetry” featuring renowned Canadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc singing Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, and a selection of 4 Songs on poems by Elizabeth Bishop, by Toronto composer Christos Hatzis commissioned by Ms. LeBlanc.

Highlights of the rest of the PEISO 2015-2016 season include a performance of Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique in November at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. In February the PEISO welcomes rising Canadian star Dinuk Wijeratne as guest conductor for a performance of Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, and PEI organist Leo Marchildon will perform Poulenc’s Organ Concerto with the orchestra. The February concert will also feature this year’s Suzanne Brenton winner, percussionist Branden Kelly. In April, PEI’s clarinet master Karem J Simon will perform Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto Op.57, and the orchestra completes the season with Delius A Walk to the Paradise Garden, and Brahms Symphony No.2.

Purchasing a subscription is the best way to support the PEI Symphony and help them keep the music playing. To keep tickets affordable for PEI families and music fans of all ages, the PEI Symphony maintains significantly lower pricing for season subscriptions.   Four concerts for only $110 for adults and seniors, and $50 for students and children, bringing the per concert cost to $27.50 for adults and seniors and only $12.50 for students!

Subscriptions are available by downloading the following PDF form and sending to us by mail or email.   For assistance please call our office at 902-892-4333 and leave a message.

PEISO Subscription Form 2015-2016 Season

For more information about purchasing season subscriptions and concert tickets, please call 902-892-4333.   Tickets to individual concerts will be available through the Confederation Centre Box Office starting in October, or online.   If you have any questions for the box office, please call 902-566-1267.

October 19  –  Symphonic Poetry
Zion Presbyterian Church 2:30pm

  • Four Songs on poems by Elizabeth Bishop – Hatzis
    featuring soprano Suzie LeBlanc
  • Symphony No. 4  – Mahler
    featuring Suzie LeBlanc

November 22  –  Our Fantastic Symphony
Confederation Centre  Homburg Theatre 2:30pm

  • Symphonie Fantastique – Berlioz
  • Special surprise guest performance

February 7 –  Beethoven & Beyond
Zion Presbyterian Church 2:30pm
featuring guest conductor Dinuk Wijeratne

  • Concerto for Marimba & Strings – Emmanuel Séjourné
    featuring 2015 Suzanne Brenton
    Award Winner Branden Kelly percussion
  • Organ Concerto – Poulenc
    featuring Leo Marchildon organ
  • Symphony No. 8  – Beethoven

April 10  – A Walk with Brahms
Zion Presbyterian Church 2:30pm

  • Concerto for Clarinet – Nielsen
    featuring Karem Simon clarinet
  • A Walk to the Paradise Garden – Delius
  • Symphony No. 2 – Brahms

Please note –repertoire is subject to change as required.

This new season is Mark Shapiro’s third as Music Director of the PEI Symphony.  A versatile and talented conductor, Mark Shapiro is one of a handful of conductors in the United States to have won a prestigious ASCAP Programming Award five times, achieving the unique distinction of winning this award with more than one ensemble. He is also the winner of multiple citations for performance and programming from The American Prize. His performances have been praised by the New York Times for their “virtuosity and assurance,” which also remarked on their “uncommon polish.” The New Jersey Star-Ledger characterized his artistic leadership as “erudite and far-reaching.”

Mark Shapiro is all about connection: across cultures, across musical styles, across landscapes, and is deeply interested in creating experiences for audiences wherein listeners can feel in their bones the connections between older and newer music. From one era to another, music is always about human feeling, about yearning and loss and triumph. Mark is especially excited about working with leading artists from Canada.

The concert Sunday October 18th at 2:30pm will be presented at the Zion Presbyterian Church located at 135 Prince Street, at the corner of Grafton Street. Due to the rehearsal schedule for concerts at the Zion Church, the PEISO is unable to host a Pre-Concert Talk. Tickets are available at the door, or through the Confederation Centre Boxoffice: $44 adults, $40 seniors and only $15 for students and children.

For more information about purchasing season subscriptions and concert tickets, please call 892-4333.   Tickets to individual concerts will be available through the Confederation Centre Box Office in October.

PEI Symphony AGM 2015 – November 9

PEISO logoThe Prince Edward Island Symphony Society will be holding it’s Annual General Meeting in October at Park Royal United Church which is located at 11 Christie Drive in Charlottetown, on Monday November 9th at 6:30pm

The agenda will include a review of the audited financial performance from the 2014-2015 season, as well as a set of proposed updates to the bylaws including proposed changes to the length of executive terms.

Please come to the side door off the parking lot, not the sanctuary entrance – and look for the room on the right at the top of the stairs.

Anyone interested in the PEI Symphony is welcome to attend!

Concert August 2 with the Dream Lotus Choir

East meets west on Sunday August 2nd, with a performance of the internationally renowned Dream Lotus Choir with our PEI Symphony Orchestra at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

Billed as a “serendipitous meeting of celestial music that speaks to our hearts”, this concert will feature the Dream Lotus Insightful Praises Choir of Taiwan along with key musicians from the PEI Symphony, all under the director of Taiwanese conductor Wang Tzu-Cheng.

Founded in 2001, the Dream Lotus Insightful Praises Choir began performing across the major cities of their native Taiwan from Taipei to Kaohsiung. As their reputation grew the choir ventured to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, and then across the Pacific Ocean to North America. Their performances have earned positive reviews globally, and their meditative and spiritual messages have succeeded in moving tens of thousands of audiences from all walks of life.Dream Lotus Choir

This concert will be presented by PEI’s Moonlight International Foundation, a local non-profit organization created for the purpose of relieving suffering to bring happiness to all. The Foundation regularly donates to food banks and the local Salvation Army, purchasing unmarketable fresh vegetables from local farmers, and in the winter new winter coats and snow boots from China. The Foundation also maintains and operates the Buffaloland Park and a farm sanctuary here in PEI.

Traditional Chinese music is the essence of Chinese culture, embodying its’ unique cultural and spiritual heritage. The music and lyrics of the Dream Lotus Choir are mostly composed by Master Zhen-Ru, founder of the Moonlight International Foundation. With all her work, Master Zhen-Ru seeks to inspire spiritual growth and unconditional happiness for people of different cultures. “I hope my music is like a bridge that brings cross-cultural harmony and peace,” she explained after her first successful concert here in PEI in 2012. Her compositions are richly expressed through a blend of traditional Chinese and western musical instruments, featuring beautiful melodies articulated by both the choir and instrumentalists; melodies that transmit a deep spirituality imbued with Confucian philosophy.

The PEI Symphony is honoured to perform with the wonderful Dream Lotus Choir from Taiwan, as part of their major North American tour this summer. The choir is also performing in Toronto and New York City. This concert is sure to be a key cultural event in PEI this summer.

All proceeds from this production will support the Moonlight Foundation’s activities and charitable causes. Tickets start from $25.00 with discounts available for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased through the Confederation Centre of the Arts website and boxoffice.

The concert begins at 3:30pm!



PEI Symphony AGM 2014

PEISO logo

The Prince Edward Island Symphony Society will be holding it’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday June 9th at 6pm, at Park Royal United Church which is located at 11 Christie Drive in Charlottetown.

Please come to the side door off the parking lot, not the sanctuary entrance – and look for the room on the right at the top of the stairs.

The agenda will include a review of the audited financial performance from the 2013-2014 season, as well as a set of proposed updates to the bylaws including proposed changes to the length of executive terms.  The AGM for our 2014-2015 year will be held in July this year.

Anyone interested in the PEI Symphony is welcome to attend either or both meetings.

An ‘awe full’ performance in April

“I like Professor Dacher Keltner’s definition of the word: “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” Recent studies have reported that, of all the positive emotions, the experience of awe has the most profound effect on our well-being. Nature is a good source—there’s the ocean, the night sky, mountains, lightning, the northern lights—and art is another, whether visual art, dance or music. Which brings me to the final PEI Symphony Orchestra performance of this season, “The Passion of Sibelius.”  

Ivy Wigmore of our local arts paper The Buzz was at our concert last month at the Zion Presbyterian Church, to hear our Maestro Mark Shapiro lead our PEI Symphony Orchestra through a beautiful performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 the “Jupiter”.   The packed crowd showed their appreciation with the first of two standing ovations that afternoon, on their way to the lobby to reserve their subscriptions for our 2015-2016 season.

As great as the Mozart sounded, our orchestra came back for the second act with a truly breathtaking, emotive and gorgeous performance of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 bringing the audience again to their feat for another ovation.   As Ivy explains:

“Standing ovations are so common these days that they’ve lost currency, but you can still gauge audience response from the speed with which people rise. This performance produced a fast standing O, people clapped hard and there were even some shouts. After the extended applause finally died out, a friend sitting next to me turned to say, “My heart is just pounding!”

There were tears in her eyes—and something else… I think you’d have to call it awe.”

Applause for the PEISO
Applause for the PEISO – April 2015

Read Ivy’s full review in the May edition of The Buzz, or online at

In memory of Dan St. Amand

Our PEI Symphony family along with the entire wider music community here in PEI is terribly saddened by the recent death of our trumpet leader and friend Dan St. Amand.

Dan. St. Amand
PEISO Principal Trumpet Dan St. Amand

Dan was an incredibly talented musician, educator, friend and mentor to so many and his contribution to our music community be greatly missed.

The funeral will be held in the chapel at the Belvedere Funeral Home on Wednesday May 6 at 10am, with a visitation Tuesday May 5, from 4 to 7pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations to UPEI Music Department would be appreciated.  A music student scholarship will be arranged in Dan’s memory.

Not only was Dan our principal trumpet leader for decades but he was equally important to the University of PEI Music Program, to music education here in PEI, the jazz scene and even a prized special guest for pop bands like Paper Lions and so many more.

PEISO Board Member and Orchestra Liaison Maggie Lillo has known Dan for many years:

“Dan’s contribution to music in PEI can’t begin to be measured. So many lives touched, so many students inspired, so many friendships forged and so very many notes played together. His loss leaves a hole in the very centre of our orchestra.”

Dan St. Amand performing with PEISO April 2015PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro conducted Dan with the orchestra just a few weeks ago, as they performed a beautiful rendition of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.  Over the weekend Maestro Shapiro payed tribute to Dan’s great musicality:

“Heartbroken to learn this morning of the sudden passing of Prince Edward Island Symphony principal trumpet player Dan St. Amand. When we performed together in PEI just 3 weeks ago Dan looked great, and was luminous and upbeat. He played beautifully too, with vitality, depth of feeling, and a seemingly effortless technical control. Dan brought such a positive energy to PEISO. He was an ideal musical partner.”

Our principal clarinetist and recent Guest Conductor Karem J Simon also wrote very eloquently about Dan’s passing:

“A passionate musician, his commitment to each and every performance project was total. He mentored many young PEI musicians, including those at UPEI. Indeed, the UPEI Wind Symphony was among those ensembles that he absolutely cherished, taking on lead and subordinate roles as required. During his final performance with that ensemble his flugelhorn solo was compelling and captured the sorrow and anguish of Rufford Park Poachers.

And then, just a week later, his principal trumpet artistry, as a member of the PEI Symphony Orchestra, was critical to the heroic climax in Sibelius Symphony No.2. I count myself among those that came to know and love this kind, generous, complex, multi-dimensional man.

A pillar of the PEI music community, he will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.”

Dan St. Amand with PEISO receiving standing ovation - April 2015
Dan St. Amand with PEISO receiving standing ovation – April 2015

Play Your Part! PEISO Indigogo Campaign

We are your Symphony PEI, and we need your support to keep the music playing.  It’s time to Play Your Part!

The Prince Edward Island Symphony has brought quality orchestral music to our province for nearly 50 years.  Four times a year our orchestra brings together sixty or more musicians including professionals, students, music teachers, business people and community members for an exciting ‘concert weekend’ to rehearse and perform a program of classical music that is appealing to a wide audience.

There’s nothing quite like the power, majesty and grace of a live symphony orchestra, and the PEI Symphony is the Island’s own.

Play Your Part, tile
Click here for our Indiegogo site

Now, we are asking for your support.  The past five years have been a financial struggle for the orchestra.  Increasing expenses, and declining donations and sales are putting the future of our orchestra at risk.

Please help us keep the music playing.  Our community needs the PEISO, and the PEISO needs you –  more than ever.

Just as each individual musician plays their part in an orchestra, we are asking YOU to play a part to help secure the future of our great orchestra.

What We Need & What You Get

We are aiming to raise a minimum of $15,000 to help us reduce our operational debt, to secure the future of the orchestra.   With an annual operating budget of about $170,000 per season, we have been between unable to break even for the past 5 years, and we cannot continue without at least balancing our budget.

We certainly appreciate the generous support of the Canada Council of the Arts, the Prince Edward Island Department of Tourism and Culture, and the City of Charlottetown, and also to our key sponsors including The Joan & Regis Duffy Foundation, Provincial Credit Union,  Hyndman Insurance, The Confederation Centre for the Arts, The Guardian, the Buzz, the Best Value hotels, Kwik Kopy, R. Birt & Associates, and Harvest Wholesale.

Even with their support, we need your help.  Unfortunately our concert expenses have been increasing over the last five years while our individual and corporate donations, and yearly subscriptions have all decreased.  In the last two years our individual donations have decreased by 50%.  We need your support to keep the music playing.

As a thank you for supporting our orchestra, we have a fun range of unique perks available, from a handwritten card from a musician,  an opportunity to play, or a sponsorship – there is a way for everyone to play a part!

Our Impact

Our orchestra has a huge impact on our community here in Prince Edward Island, and is itself a music community with a wide variety of individuals who either perform or appreciate quality orchestral music, and the joy of working hard together to create a beautiful live performance.

As a full symphony orchestra, the PEISO supports our cultural identity in Prince Edward Island and the greater Charlottetown area, at a level that’s commensurate with our status as a province and capital, and the birthplace of Confederation in Canada.

  • Cultural events such as our concerts engage and attract professionals, businesses and educated audiences to our Island and our economy.
  • Our audiences experience the incredible power and beauty of live orchestral music four times a season.
  • Our $170K annual budget is primarily used to purchase supplies and services right here in PEI, reinvesting in our local economy.
  • Four times per year we book twenty five hotel rooms for a full weekend for our travelling musicians.
  • Every concert attracts off-island tourism.
  • Charlottetown restaurants are busy during each of our four concert weekends.
  • Professional PEI musicians have the opportunity to perform with a full orchestra.
  • Young PEI student musicians have the opportunity to perform with an orchestra, as regular members and/or soloists.
  • Islanders experience talented guest soloists and our guest soloists experience the orchestra and our Island community.
  • Established PEI solo artists and groups have an opportunity to perform with a full live orchestra.
  • Island popular music artists and groups can have their music arranged for orchestra for other engagements outside of PEI.

Other Ways You Can Help

The best way to support our orchestra is to come to as many of our concerts as you can!   Our next concerts are Sunday April 12th, and Sunday October 19th.

Season Tickets will be available for purchase on April 12.  Please check back here for details, or call 902-892-4333.

Our annual ‘Serenade to Spring Dinner and Auction’, returns to the Georgian Room at the Rodd Charlottetown on Saturday June 6 this year.   Music will be provided by the Singing Strings. Tickets are $90 – and you receive a $50 tax receipt.   Come enjoy the evening with us and/or consider donating items for the auctions in return for a tax receipt for the value of your donation!

…and listen, perform, share, and get excited about classical music!  These are all the ways you can play your part!

No Pre-Concert Talk April 12 – Tickets at the door from 2pm

The PEI Symphony returns to the beautiful Zion Presbyterian Church for our next concert Sunday April 12th.

Under the leadership of PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro, the PEI Symphony presents “The Passion of Sibelius”, to honour the 150th anniversary of the birth of the famous composer with a performance of his second symphony, along with Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 the “Jupiter”.

Please note, due to the rehearsal schedule for concerts at the Zion Church, the PEISO is unable to host a Pre-Concert Talk for this event.

Doors open at 2pm, and the concert begins at 2:30pm.   We hope to see you there!


Concert April 12 – at the Zion Church

PEI Symphony returns to the Zion Church for our grand season finale April 12th

On Sunday April 12th the PEISO returns to the beautiful Zion Presbyterian Church for the grand finale of our concert season.

PEISO Music Director Mark ShapiroUnder the leadership of PEISO Music Director Mark Shapiro, the PEI Symphony presents “The Passion of Sibelius”, to honour the 150th anniversary of the birth of the famous composer with a performance of his second symphony, along with Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 the “Jupiter”.

Originally scheduled for the Confederation Centre of the Arts, the PEI Symphony has announced that it has switched the concert to the Zion Presbyterian Church. According to PEISO President Dan Rowswell, the last few years have been challenging financially for the PEISO annual budget, and consequently the board is implementing plans to increase revenues and reduce costs in order to keep live orchestral music alive in Prince Edward Island. The PEISO has produced three concerts at the Zion Church to date, and audiences and the orchestra musicians have responded enthusiastically to the beautiful acoustics, and the intimacy of the musical experience. According to Rowswell, the orchestra also loves performing at the beautifully renovated Homburg Theatre and the PEISO appreciates the generous support of the Confederation Centre management team and staff for this change of venue decision. The Confederation Centre continues to manage ticket sales for this concert.

Composer Jean Sibelius
Composer Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was a popular Finnish composer of the late Romantic period. Growing up when Finland was seeking independence from Russia, his music was influenced by and then came to help define the Finnish national movement and identify. Initially influenced by Wagner and later by Bruckner and especially Tchaikovsky, he wrote seven symphonies and many other works including the famous ‘Finlandia’ which became the theme of the Finnish Resistance during World War II.

Composed in 1902, Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 is arguably his most popular and most frequently recorded. Critics at the time remarked on its skilful orchestration where the “ideas of form are more mature and the violent Slavic gloom is replaced by a more classical touch and by the light of the Mediterranean”. The romantic and optimistic heroism were welcomed by the Finnish public in 1902 during a period of Russian oppression, and the composers’ national fame was secured after the first performance. In 1903 Karl Flodin described the work as:

“An absolute masterpiece, one of the few symphonic creations of our time that point in the same direction as the symphonies of Beethoven.”

One of classical music’s most famous stars, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) lived only thirty five years, but made a profound impact on all forms of Western music. An incredible child prodigy and adult genius, Mozart composed over 600 works including many of the most famous of all time, including his Symphony No. 41 the “Jupiter”.  The year it premiered, 1798 was not a happy time for the great composer, who was in serious financial trouble with the failure of his Don Giovanni opera. Still still in grief over the unexpected death of his infant daughter earlier that year, Mozart was worried about his wife’s health, his own, and his position within Vienna’s elite.  Nevertheless, amid all that worry and pain he found the inspiration over a period of only 50 days to compose three incredible masterpieces, his last three symphonies: Numbers 39, 40 and the powerfully joyful No. 41, easily one of the greatest ever.

This concert will be presented at the Zion Presbyterian Church located at 135 Prince Street, at the corner of Grafton Street.  Please note, due to the rehearsal schedule for concerts at the church, the PEISO is unable to host a Pre-Concert Talk for this show.

There are many ways to support the PEI Symphony and keep the music playing. The best is simply to buy tickets for each concert or a subscription series for all four. Subscriptions will be available for sale in the concert lobby, and online after the concert.  Subscriptions are only $50 for students and children, and $110 for adults and seniors, for all our concerts.

In addition, in April the PEI Symphony is seeking community support through a new crowd sourcing IndiGoGo campaign, appropriately entitled “Play Your Part”.

Finally, for all of us here in PEI living through winter storm after storm, come join our musical celebration of both of these joyful composers.  Finnish conductor Simon Parmet described Sibelius’ Second Symphony as:

“A song of praise for summer and the joy of life.”

And so it shall be!


Concert tickets are available at the door, or through the Confederation Centre Boxoffice, $44 adults, $40 seniors and only $15 for students and children.   For more information please call 902-892-4333.