June 15, 2024



Jill Summerhayes, ambassador of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, wants to teach people about music. Because the orchestra’s concerts are pay-as-you-can, she hopes people will bring their children along, so they can learn that some of their favourite rock songs originated from classical music.

“When children hear this, it piques their interest,” Summerhayes said. “One of the long-term goals of the orchestra is not only to engage audiences, but also to educate them.”

In order to meet this goal, the orchestra introduced a new series called Explore the Score, run by music director Sabatino Vacca. These sessions are designed to provide concert-goers with a deeper understanding of the music played by the orchestra.

The most recent Explore the Score session was held on Feb. 24 at the Clemens Mill Library in Cambridge. Vacca provided background on a concert that was being held on March 2, which included the Schumann Piano Concerto and the Organ Symphony by Saint-Saens.

“The sessions make for a more gratifying concert-going experience when people know the meaning of the music,” Vacca said. “Our audience was interested in the idea and we’re hoping to start bringing live performers to the sessions.”

The orchestra has already made an impact on the community, particularly on music students. One student who played for the orchestra when she was in university now plays for the Vienna State Opera in Austria, and another student who played his first solo at age 11 has been offered scholarships in the U.S. and Canada.

“When students study music in university, we want to provide a platform where they can come to play,” Summerhayes said. “After they finish their program, there’s no telling how far they’ll go.”

One challenge the orchestra faces is fundraising. Since there’s no administrative office, it relies on its website to receive donations. Summerhayes is planning on adding PayPal to the website, so people can donate directly from their credit cards.

“I want to make it as easy as possible to receive funding for the orchestra,” she said. “Raising funds can be a very difficult task, especially for a project as large as this.”

The Cambridge Symphony Orchestra maintains a strong following, with a large number of people attending the concerts.

“Some people who have never seen us tend to think of us as a ‘Mickey Mouse’ orchestra because we’re in Cambridge,” Summerhayes said. “But once they see us perform, they’re so inspired by what they saw that they want to come back.”

To learn more about the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, visit www.cambridgeorchestra.ca.