Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra
The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony has been in continuous existence since 1945, when Dr. Glenn Kruspe, director of the local Philharmonic Choir, suggested that an orchestra be formed to accompany an upcoming choir concert. The concert's success prompted the orchestra to become a permanent entity, with William Clement, a Kitchener lawyer and violist with the orchestra, serving as president of its first executive committee. Kruspe remained the orchestra's conductor until 1960, when Frederick Pohl assumed the post for the next decade. Boris BROTT, then conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, was named music consultant for the 1970-71 season. He assisted in the selection of Raffi Armenian as the new music director in 1971. Under Armenian's direction, the orchestra was transformed from an amateur organization into a fully professional one. As music director of the STRATFORD FESTIVAL in 1974, Armenian saw an opportunity to share the wealth of talented musicians in the area. He created a professional chamber music ensemble, known as the Stratford Ensemble, and hired its musicians to fill the first chair positions in the KSWO. Many members of this core group of musicians remained even after the Stratford connection ceased, and since the 1980-81 season it has been known as the Canadian Chamber Ensemble. On its own and as part of the KWSO, it has been widely acclaimed for its recordings and concerts throughout North America and abroad. It was also under Armenian's tenure that the KWSO moved into its permanent home in The Centre in the Square, which was completed in 1980. Chosei Komatsu succeeded Raffi Armenian as the orchestra's music director in 1993. Today the KWSO comprises 52 professional musicians who perform over 80 concerts during its 38-week season to a combined audience of over 90 000.