Our Story

The Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra is a community orchestra, dedicated to enriching lives through the highest quality musical performances. We’re committed to offering a very affordable, fulfilling, and convenient live-entertainment experience.

We’re also dedicated to supporting, encouraging and mentoring young musicians.

SPO concerts sometimes feature professional soloists and young artists, drawn from our community.

The SPO has a long, rich history in Scarborough.

Conductor Clifford Poole founded the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra in 1980. In 1985, he went on to form Scarborough’s second orchestra, the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony.

The SPO grew and revitalized under the leadership of Christopher Kitts. Christopher was succeeded by Véronique Lacroix, Jerome Summers and John Barnum.

Three of the SPO’s former Music Directors led the orchestra as guest conductors for the 30th anniversary season in 2009/2010. That same season, the orchestra welcomed Ronald Royer as its new Music Director.

The SPO has a long-standing tradition of commissioning original Canadian work. In 1994, we introduced our very successful Composer-in-Residence (CIR) program. This has enable us to commission new Canadian compositions form Donald Coakley, BarbaraCroall, Chan Ka Nin, John Estacio, Omar Daniel, Ronald Royer, Vince Gassi, Alex Eddington, Jim McGrath and more.

During Mr. Royer’s time, the orchestra has grown to be one of Ontario’s finest.

Just a few years ago, the SPO introduced the New Generation Artists program and the New Generation Composers Workshop, which mentors talented younger people and includes a special segment at one of the current season’s concerts. Not only do we do justice to the great music of the past, we help ensure classical music lives well into the future.

In 2017, the SPO proudly introduced the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra Women’s Choir, under the guidance and direction of Yiping Chao.  Ms. Chao also plays cello with the Orchestra.  Her talented son, Kevin Zi-Xiao He, has original work and arrangements performed with the SPO, as does her husband, Eugene He. A talented family and the most strong supporters of our Orchestra.  Ms. Chao, also a teacher, has helped introduce our great music to her students and audiences and has included us in her own adventures, as well.

During the 2018/2019 Season, the SPO will also perform original music to incredible animated short films, created by talented students of Sheridan College. SPO composers will imagine new music, which the orchestra will perform live to the films. Our audience will have front row seats to what it’s like to be on a sound stage, maybe even in Hollywood, complete with dialogue and sound effects playback. Different, modern and bold. You won’t want to miss it!

The SPO also gratefully acknowledges the support of our patrons. People like Dr. Jack Wylie, his wife Lyn and their families, for the decades of support. During the 2017/2018 Season, the SPO was able to honour Dr. Wylie’s memory, and his family and friends (many who still support the orchestra to this day) with a special music composition and performance. There are many like them, who have shown tireless support through attendance and donations, a big part of any not-for-profit organizations longevity.

One of our primary goals for this season is to try and introduce even more people to the SPO. In Ontario, there are many classical orchestras, each at different stage of development. Some have been around for a long time, some are new. Letting Scarborough know that we have one of the finest groups in all of Ontario, according to our patrons and industry, has been a bit of a “best kept secret”. Well, the secret’s out and we’re pleased to invite you and yours to come enjoy excellent musicians performing at the top of their game – RIGHT HERE in Scarborough!

We hope you enjoy our 39th Season (2018/2019) very much!

As we look forward to our 40th Anniversary and beyond, we have some big ideas, and some even bigger dreams. As always, we invite you and yours to be a part of this “history in the making” and appreciate your support of the SPO!


Clifford Poole