June 7, 2023

Since 2004 the Love of Music Marathon has brought the community together to celebrate local musicians at every skill level. Performances range from members of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony to politicians playing duets with volunteer musicians and recitals for music students.

The marathon has raised approximately $13,000-$15,000 each year through the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Volunteer Committee to support the K-W Symphony.

Catherine Duval-Russell, who has been the event convener and program coordinator for the past five years has taken up the mantle from founder Joanne Bender, who “wanted to do something that would help the symphony come together with the community.”

While the event is open to everyone, Bender highlighted how “people who wouldn’t be able to go to the symphony can come hear symphony musicians play here.” It also allows symphony musicians to be able to share their instruments in a more intimate way with the public.

While the marathon does raise valuable funds for the K-W Symphony, the focus is more on bringing the community together to celebrate all types of music.

Joanne Bender (left) and Catherine Duval-Russell (right) in front of one of the craft tables at the Love of Music Marathon.
Photo by Jeff Halcrow.

When Bender conceived of the event, she had a vision of how the greater community could support the symphony. Deciding on a marathon format, the event has grown to have performances in Hilliard Hall, the sanctuary and the chapel of First United Church.

Similar to a marathon race, the concerts run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and participants are encouraged to raise money, with sponsors providing instruments and other services for the event. While the marathon has not seen an increase in attendance in recent years, Duval-Russell said the purpose of the event isn’t to make more money for the symphony.

“It’s more to help people to connect with the symphony and it’s made for the symphony,” Duval-Russell said. “They have fun performing and we give money to the symphony, the symphony can perform for them. So it’s kind of a one day connection between the symphony and the community.”

The marathon has continued to garner support from politicians at every level of government who show their support by performing with musicians or reading poetry set to music. This year saw such varied performances as an organ and trumpet duet featuring regional chair Ken Seiling, and the first Canadian performance of Sibelius’ “The Lonely Ski Trail” performed by Councillor Angela Vieth and pianist Tim Louis.

Top row, left to right: Councilor Angela Vieth, Councilor Karl Kiefer and pianist Tim Louis.
Bottom row, left to right: Regional Chair Ken Seiling, Marwan Tabbara MP, Laura Mae Lindo MPP and Raj Saini MP. Photo by Jeff Halcrow.




















Bender said that watching the event grow to include more performers and community involvement has been amazing over the years.

“I got it started, but since then there have been so many people who had so many brilliant ideas, how to make it more organized, get the word out there, do the advertising.”

The K-W Symphony Volunteer Committee has also been reached out to by other orchestras who have been inspired by the marathon to host their own similar fundraisers. 

“One year our K-W Symphony Volunteer Group was asked to present this idea at an international orchestras fundraising conference, because they thought it was a cool idea,” Bender said. “And one or two orchestras have tried to emulate it since, so people think its a good idea.”

This year’s Love of Music Marathon took place on November 10. If you’re interested in attending or performing at next year’s marathon please visit the Love of Music Marathon Official website.

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