Community Engagement & Social Change

The VSO is committed to Truth and Reconciliation and building stronger relationships with local indigenous communities. In seeking reconciliation, we have established an Indigenous Council made up of the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh), and Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilwətaɁɬ) nations, as well as an elder, youth, Metis, and Urban Aboriginal representative.

This season the VSO and Indigenous Council will premiere Carnival of OUR Animals, a multi-movement work developed in collaboration with the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh), and Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilwətaɁɬ) nations. The Carnival of OUR Animals concept and concert is co-created with the Indigenous Council, with a goal of sharing indigenous stories, culture, and knowledge on our shared stage.

The season also includes symphonic works by four indigenous Canadian composers that showcase the breadth and diversity of indigenous voices in classical music. Odawa First nation composer Barbara Asiginaak, one of the “very best composers of her generation,” writes in a style informed by both her distinguished European mentors including Peter Maxwell Davies and Helmut Lachemann, and her indigenous roots. Accomplished opera composer Ian Cusson writes new songs for mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo. Cellist, composer, and creator Cris Derksen opens the regular season with a new setting of her powerful work “War Cry” for orchestra and cello solo. Andrew Balfour journeys inside Tchaikovsky’s mind with his work Pyotr’s Dream, an original commission from Tafelmusik.

With the guidance of the Council, we hope to continue working together to further our commitment to truth and reconciliation.

‘Women’s Voices’ is an initiative highlighting the multi-faceted work that women do in the world of classical music. Celebrating the growing equity and influence of women in the symphony, the 2021-2022 season includes music by composers Anna Clyne, Linda Caitlin Smith, Cris Derksen, Barbara Assiginaak, Florence Price, Cécile Chaminade, Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger, as well as first visits from conductors Anna Rakitina, a Dudamel Fellow and assistant conductor at the Boston Symphony, and Speranza Scappucci, one of the most interesting conductors on the international scene and a regular at Opera Houses in Vienna, Rome, Barcelona, Zurich and Los Angeles.

In our Giving Back initiative, the VSO supports numerous charitable organizations in the region through the donation of concert tickets for fundraising efforts. The VSO also offers complimentary tickets to organizations such as Big Brothers, YWCA, and United Way for distribution to members of their communities.

The VSO Youth Council brings together a diverse cross-section of young people who are passionate about bringing youth and youth voices into the many events and innovations of the VSO and VSO School of Music.

The Youth Council also demonstrates the value of music and music education through various projects within the community. The council’s first digital project, The Musical Mosaic, collected responses from youth across British Columbia, highlighting the impact of music mentorship on young people.