The SPOGreatMusic Podcast Series: S01E01

Release Date: September 18, 2020

Episode #1 is an introduction to the series, featuring interviews with artists from organizations involved with the podcast, including Ronald Royer (Music Director of the SPO), William Rowson (Music Director of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra), Derek Spooner (Executive Director of Scarborough Arts), and Tamar Ilana (Executive Director of FabCollab).


Ronald Royer conducting the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra

Mr. Ronald Royer, Music Director and Conductor of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra

Ronald is now in his 11th season with the SPO. As part of our 2020/2021 Digital Content Production Team, Ron serves as Producer for these creative and engaging online series. We greatly appreciate Ron’s efforts and programming for what is definitely not a normal season for the SPO. You can learn more about Ron on our website, or on his newly designed website here.

In today’s episode, you’ll learn why the SPO has taken this approach to our 2020/2021 season. You’ll also learn some of Ron’s history, including the influence of members of his family who have also had amazing musical experiences, growing up and performing in Los Angeles, how he met his wife, Kaye Royer, and more.


William Rowson

Mr. William Rowson, Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra

William is hailed as one of Canada’s most compelling and versatile young artists. He currently serves as the Artistic Advisor and Music Director of the Stratford Symphony Orchestra.  In 2019 he completed a 3-year tenure as the Assistant Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, where he led the Grammy and Juno award-winning ensemble in over 160 performances. To great acclaim, he conducted the VSO’s inaugural Sunset Beach outdoor concert to a crowd of over 14,000. William has collaborated with vocalists Meredith Hall, Rufus Müller, Lawrence Wiliford, Krisztina Szabó and Jann Arden, as well as instrumentalists Sarah Pratt, Nicholas Wright, Sharon Wei and astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Highly regarded in the New Music community, Rowson has conducted the premieres of over 65 new works and is a strong advocate for music by Canadian composers. An active composer as well as conductor, Rowson’s Fanfare for Canada’s 150th was premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Thomas Dausgaard. This performance has been viewed 140,000 times on YouTube.  In August 2018, his Short Variations on Waves was given its premiere by Ensemble Made in Canada at the Festival of the Sound, and has since been performed in every Canadian province and territory. Rowson has also composed the scores to several films including the 2019 Canadian feature film Brotherhood, which is playing in theatres across Canada throughout 2020.

In addition to performances with the Stratford Symphony, upcoming season highlights include appearances with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Regina Symphony as well as return engagements with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and the VSO.

Bill grew up in a musical family, starting the violin at age 3 in his hometown of Saskatoon. He began conducting while studying at the Curtis Institute of Music.  He also holds degrees from the University of Toronto and Western University and has benefited from the mentorship of conductors Bramwell Tovey and Otto Tausk.

Learn more about William Rowson by visiting his website here, or by visiting the Stratford Symphony Orchestra website here.


The Stratford Symphony Orchestra

The Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra has partnered with the Stratford Symphony Orchestra for our 2020/2021 Season.

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra was founded in 2004 by educator and arts manager, Yootha Neller. Her goal was to establish a fine orchestra within the Stratford community to present excellent performances with a broad stylistic range. Since that time, the SSO has presented an annual season of live performances of classical and contemporary music, with a special emphasis on Canadian composers. The SSO has beecome an integral part of the region’s arts community, collaborating with other cultural and educational organizations and participating in community events.

Now in its sixteenth season, the SSO has impressed audiences with its virtuosity and variety of musical offerings. Nothing compares with live music, delivered with the joy, passion, and skill that talented musicians bring directly to their audience. Concert after concert, audiences have given standing ovations to tell the orchestra how much they appreciate the music and the musicians. This season, the SSO will deliver its music and community programs digitally to a global audience.

Behind the scenes, a board of directors and dozens of skilled and dedicated volunteers support all aspects of the SSO”s operations. Funding support for the Orchestra comes from tickets and subscription sales, donations, fundraising events, and sponsorships.

Connect with the SSO by visiting their website, or on Twitter and YouTube. You can also donate to the SSO here.


Derek Spooner, M.A. / Executive Director of Scarborough Arts

Derek Spooner, M.A. / Executive Director of Scarborough Arts

Derek is a non-profit, management and fundraising professional with a strong background in program and fund development, operations, communications, programming, arts and cultural development and advocacy, community arts, networking, and marketing.

Currently, Derek is the Executive Director of Scarborough Arts, one of Toronto’s six Local Arts Service Organizations (LASO) mandated to bring arts and cultural services to under-served communities outside the downtown core. Derek has built dynamic, profitable fundraising teams throughout his career, including $9.04M in fulfilled gifts between 2011 – 2016 for the Toronto International Film Festival, Save The Children Canada, The New England Aquarium, The Boston Museum of Science, The Chicago Memorial Children’s Hospital, and Mirvish Theatre Producations, among others. You can connect with Derek through his LinkedIn profile or by visiting Scarborough Arts’ website here.


Scarborough Arts logo

Scarborough Arts

Scarborough Arts is one of Toronto’s six Local Arts Services Organizations (LASO) mandated to bring arts and cultural programs, services, and advocacy, to neighbourhoods outside the downtown core. A non-profit charitable organization, we develop, deliver, and promote innovative arts programming and cultural initiatives in collaboration with the community. We bring artists to the community and community to the arts. Projects of note include: The Scarborough Sign, COMMUNITY+Connects Online, Scarborough’s New View Photo Contest (#scarboroughphoto), Healthy Arts for Seniors, EAST: Youth Collective, and our Annual Juried Exhibition, among others. For more information, visit their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. You can also sign up for their amazing newsletter by clicking here.


Tamar Ilana with FabCollab Toronto

Tamar Ilana, Singer / Dancer / FabCollab Member

Tamar grew up singing on the road as the daughter of a travelling ethnomusicologist and is of Jewish, Indigenous, Romanian, and Scottish descent. A pivotal presence in the Canadian music community and beyond, Tamar has been producing events for over a decade. She was one of the first Toronto-based artists to seize the opportunity afforded by live-streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic, successfully making the move to online as a presenter, performer, and teacher. Tamar continues to push the Canadian music industry forward as a joyful pioneer of the digital space. Tamar is also a key member of FabCollab Toronto. You can learn more on Tamar’s website and Instagram pages.


FabCollab Toronto

FabCollab is an Ontario-based arts and music organization founded in June 2020 that fosters artistic creation and collaboration at a time when unprecedented circumstances keep us physically apart. FabCollab aims to address some of the challenges facing the music and arts community as a result of the pandemic by offering work to both artists and arts personnel while producing high quality interactive shows for the public. FabCollab also addresses the under-representation of BIPOC, female-identifying and culturally diverse performers on the mainstream world stage by primarily featuring these voices. Learn more on their website and Instagram pages.


Click here to return to our 2020/2021 SPOGreatMusic Podcast Series listings.

Click here to go to our 2020/2021 SPOGreatMusic Performance Series listings.