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, Barbara Croall, Chan Ka Nin, John Estacio, Omar Daniel, Ronald Royer, Vince Gassi, Alex Eddington, Jim McGrath, Chris Meyer, Sergei Kofman, Alexander Rapoport, Elizabeth Raum, Bruno Degazio, Catherine Magowan and Spy-Denomme-Welch, the Iranian-Canadian Composers of Toronto (ICOT), and many 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 SPO.  Her talented son, Kevin Zi-Xiao He, has had original work and arrangements performed with the SPO. A talented family and strong supporters of our Orchestra.  Ms. Chao, also a teacher, has helped introduce our orchestra to her students and audiences as far away as China.

The SPO 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 organization’s longevity.

For our 2021/2022 Season, the SPO will continue to adapt to Covid-19 restrictions, offering an award-winning SPOGreatMusic Podcast series, as well as online pre-recorded musical performances which you can enjoy at home or on the go.

We’ve also made new connections, including a partnership with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra, the Brantford Symphony, the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra, and more. We also appreciate the support and collaboration of community partners, like Scarborough Arts, Scarborough Community Renewal Organization, Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, and FabCollab Toronto.

While we wish we could be on stage, performing live for an audience, we believe everyone will love our podcasts and online content while we work to stay healthy and safe.

Through our 2021/2022 digital offerings, we hope to continue introducing even more people to the SPO, not just in Scarborough, but around the world.

There are many classical orchestras in Ontario, each at different stage of development. Some have been around for a long time, some are new. We hope that you will help us spread the good word about the SPO and share our links and content with your friends and family.

According to many of our patrons and our industry, the SPO is one of the finest groups in all of Ontario. We are pleased to invite you and yours to check out and enjoy our excellent musicians performing at their best!

Many thanks to our 2021/2022 funding partners, including the Toronto Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the SOCAN Foundation, for helping us keep the SPO moving forward, especially during this historic and difficult time in our shared history.

We hope you enjoy our 42nd Season (2021/2022) very much!


Clifford Poole

Upcoming Concerts