The SPOGreatMusic Podcast Series: S01E06

Release Date: November 27, 2020

Discover the 40-year history of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra in depth. The triumphs and challenges, as well as the passion and love for great music that has sustained the orchestra through the decades. This episode features interviews with musicians, SPO Music Directors and other members from the SPO community. This is a great way to rediscover our fantastic history as told by those who experienced it first-hand.

Special thanks to our 2020/2021 Music Director, Conductor, and podcast Producer, Ronald Royer, and Executive Director and podcast Executive Producer, Devin Scott, for all their hard work keeping our history moving forward.


Here’s some additional information and pictures on our special guest interviewees for this historic episode:


Allan Shantz, Cellist

Allan Shantz is our first speaker who will share memories of SPO founder, Clifford Poole. Allan performed at the inaugural concert of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, Saturday November 8, 1980. Allan currently plays with the Cathedral Bluff Symphony Orchestra, also founded by Clifford Poole in 1985. The SPO appreciates the current CBSO administration and Board who were so helpful in us research and tell the story of the early years of the SPO. Scarborough is fortunate to have two orchestras in our community, each founded by Mr. Poole.


Clifford Poole, Founder of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra, 1980 – 1985

Article by Betty Nygaard King.

Clifford Poole. Pianist, teacher, composer, b Reddish, near Manchester, 25 May 1916, d Toronto 16 Jul 2003. He was taken to Canada as a child and settled in Toronto, where he studied piano with Mona Bates. With another Bates pupil, Gordon Hallett, Poole formed the Poole-Hallett Duo, which gave concerts 1936-42 in Toronto and Montreal and on CBC radio. In 1938 Poole made his solo debut at Eaton Auditorium, Toronto. He served in the RCAF during World War II and occasionally, while on leave, performed with the Bates Ten-Piano Ensemble. With his wife, Margaret Parsons, he formed the Parsons-Poole Duo and toured Canada and the USA extensively 1954-65. (See Parsons for discography.)

Poole taught 1938-41 and 1943-8 at the TCM (RCMT). In 1948 he joined the staffs of the WOCM and the Music Teachers’ College, both in London, Ont. In 1956 the conservatory and college became constituent parts of the University of Western Ontario, and Poole served 1957-60 as principal of both. In 1963 he rejoined the piano department of the RCMT and began teaching piano at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He taught until the 1990s. Chia Chou, Beverley Diamond, Zenovia Kushpeta, Marjan Mozetich, Halyna Mychalczuk, and Raymond Pannell were among Poole’s many pupils. Between 1949 and 1962 Poole and Margaret Parsons composed, compiled, and edited much piano music for young players, including their Parsons-Poole Festival Piano Series, and Poole continued to contribute to RCMT-Harris publications. He used the pseudonyms Charles Pierson and Ernest Marsden for some of his music publications. Poole’s many pedagogical piano pieces have remained favourites among the festival repertoire. Clifford Poole: Piano Highlights (HPA70) is available from Frederick Harris.

Poole was music director 1968-81 at St Anne’s Anglican Church in Toronto where he also directed the St Anne’s Music and Drama Society, which specialized in productions of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Poole was conductor of the York Regional Symphony Orchestra (York Symphony Orchestra) 1973-89, of the East York Symphony Orchestra 1978-84, and of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra 1980-5. He founded the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra in 1985 and conducted it until 1999. Mr. Poole passed in 2003.


Robert Ketchen, Trombone, SPO musician since 1981.

Bob joins us to speak more about Clifford Poole, and the early years of the SPO. Bob continues to perform with the SPO (and waiting for this pandemic to cool down, so he can play with us once again).

Click here to see a list of personnel from 1981 (courtesy of Tom Kelimbet).

Chris Kitts, SPO Music Director, 1985 – 1993

Maestro Kitts has enjoyed an outstanding career as a conductor, violinist, recording artist, and educator. He has conducted the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble, recorded music for films of Donald Sutherland, Diane Lane, and Jon Voigt. He was the Music Director of the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts, Conductor of the Vancouver Pops Symphony, and has conducted The West Coast Symphony, Burnaby Symphony, Brantford Symphony, Brampton Symphony, and Mississauga Symphony. His conducting accolades include conducting the first professional Orchestra in Bermuda, The University of Toronto Orchestra, and the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto Orchestra . For 8 years he was Music Director of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a violinist, he was a member of the first National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Concertmaster of the University of Toronto Orchestra, and Concertmaster of the North York Symphony. In the U.S., he played two summers in the Orchestra for the Festival in Monterey California, five summers in the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, and also in the New York Festival Orchestra.

As an educator, his groups have performed on C.B.C., B.B.C. , West German Radio, and Caribbean Broadcasting, played the anthems for the Blue Jays in Toronto and the N.Y. Mets at Shea Stadium on N.B.C., played for the opening ceremonies of both Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre, performed for Premier Peterson of Ontario and Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and played concerts at the United Nations in N.Y.C., Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and at the New Orleans World’s Fair.

Mr. Kitts also has served as adjudicator for the Kiwanis Music Festival and fourteen years for the Toronto International Music Festival.

In 2017 Mr. Kitts published his memoir titled, “I Shouldn’t Even Be Here”. Connect with Chris on his Facebook page.

Check out these pictures courtesy of Chris Kitts.

Click here for a concert programme from March 30, 1985 (courtesy of Tom Kelimbet).

The SPO performing at Roy Thomson Hall in 1992.

ELWY YOST joined the SPO for a special “Saturday Night at the Movies” program.

1993 – 1994

Conductor search.


Véronique Lacroix, SPO Music Director, 1994 – 1996

Article by Nicolas Gilbert.

Véronique Lacroix, conductor b Chicoutimi, Que 4 Jul 1963; Dip (Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal [CMM]) 1988.

Véronique Lacroix initially studied flute at the Conservatoire de musique de Chicoutimi. She completed her studies in 1988 at the CMM receiving prizes in conducting, chamber music, and compositional techniques. After leaving the conservatoire, she formed the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+), where she has remained the artistic director in 2011, and embarked on an active conducting career.

Between 1987 and 1994, she successively held positions as artistic director of the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Opéra Comique du Québec, the CAMMAC Orchestra and the Orchestre symphonique de Lanaudière. From 1994 to 1996, she was principal conductor of the Scarborough Philharmonic (Ontario). Beginning in 1995, she has been in charge of the contemporary music performance class at the CMM.

As of 1988, Véronique Lacroix has appeared as a guest conductor with the CBC Radio Orchestra (Vancouver), the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), the Kiev Camerata ensemble (Ukraine), the orchestra of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec, the ensemble Barcelona 216 (Spain), Ensemble Arc-en-ciel de Winterthur (Switzerland), the Orchestre Symphonique du Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean, the Orchestre symphonique de Laval, the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Saskatoon Symphony.

Acknowledged as a leading specialist in contemporary Canadian repertoire, Véronique Lacroix has conducted the premieres of nearly 200 works by Québec and Canadian composers. She has also directed the ECM+ in recordings on the labels SNE, Port-Royal, Phonovox, Atma, Oxingale and Centredisques.

Véronique Lacroix has received the Prix du Domaine Forget (1987), the Jean-Marie- Beaudet Award from the Canada Council for the Arts (1990 and 1991), the Heinz Unger Award from the Ontario Arts Council (1994), the Prix Opus for Artistic Director of the Year (2007), and the Friends of Canadian Music Award (2009) from the Canadian Music Centre and the Canadian League Of Composers.


Wendy Frey, Violinist with the SPO for many years

Wendy speaks on the 1995 – 1997 years.

Click here to see the program from the Scarborough Bi-Centennial Orchestra concert on June 16, 1996 (courtesy of Tom Kelimbet).

1996 – 1999

Conductor search.

Lesley Duff, Flutist with the SPO for many years

Lesley speaks about the years 1997 – 1999 and the process of finding a new conductor.


Jerome David Summers, SPO Interim Music Director 1998 – 1999, Music Director 1999 – 2004

Jerome Summers has enjoyed a distinguished professional career as a renowned Canadian conductor, composer, clarinetist, and education.

Prior to locating in Ontario in 1974, he performed as a member of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Opera and CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra. Jerome’s subsequent conducting career flourished, as he became increasingly in demand as a music director of thriving orchestras in Ontario. These include the International Symphony of Sarnia/Port Huron, Woodstock Strings, New Aeolian Chamber Orchestra, Stratford Symphony, (founding Music Director), Ontario Festival Symphony Orchestra, (which toured China in 2011-12) and the Scarborough Philharmonic. As well, he frequently appeared on the podium for many of Canada’s leading orchestras, such as those in Edmonton, Victoria, Ottawa, Manitoba, Windsor, London, Niagara, and Brantford.

As a clarinet performer, Jerome Summers has appeared as principal or soloist with numerous orchestras and chamber collaborators throughout the country. He has broadcast frequently on national CBC and NPR radio and has released four solo recordings in his series of ‘Nightingale’ discs (all have received widespread critical acclaim in North America and Europe).

Jerome’s affiliation with the Scarborough Philharmonic began with guest conducting appearances in 1997 and 1998. From and 1998. From 1999, he was pleased to serve as Music Director until 2004. Jerome Summers is currently a conductor emeritus with the International Symphony, and Professor Emeritus at Western University in London.

Learn more about Jerome on his website,

2005 – 2006

Conductor search.

Paul Bolton, Board Member 2002 – Present, President 2006 – 2016

Paul speaks on the two year search for a new conductor.


Rennie Regehr, SPO Interim Music Director, 2004 – 2006

Conductor Rennie Regehr quickly established himself as one of Canada’s leading violists after beginning his professional career with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. His career has taken him throughout Canada and abroad as chamber musician, and soloist. Highlights of his performance collaborations include artists such as Leon Fleisher, James Campbell, Andrew Dawes, Desmond Hoebig, and the Shanghai String Quartet. Mr. Regehr’s performances have been broadcast on the CBC Radio networks and National Public Radio in the US. In 1992 Mr. Regehr became the Dean of the Glenn Gould School, a position he held until 2006. In addition to performing and teaching Mr. Regehr is an active conductor. He led the Royal Conservatory orchestra on a 3-week, 11-concert tour of China in 2004, and has returned on numerous occasions to conduct the Zhejiang Symphony in Hangzhou. He is the principal guest conductor of the University of Ottawa Orchestra and also conducts the chamber orchestra for the uOttawa Opera Company’s performances. Rennie Regehrwas honoured by the Canadian Viola Society (CVS) with the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award.


John Barnum, Music Director 2006 – 2008

John Barnum, Music Director of the Scarborough Philharmonic 2006-08 started his career as violist after graduation from the University of Toronto. He gradually transitioned to life as a full-time conductor. He held positions of Resident Conductor of the Thunder Bay Symphony and Assistant conductor of the Edmonton Symphony while also making guest appearances with orchestras across the country.

He was Music Director of the Mississauga Symphony, Sinfonia Mississauga, and Mississauga Philharmonic from 1978 until 2013. He taught conducting at the University of Toronto for ten years and was Director of the Orchestral Training Program and Royal Conservatory Orchestra 1986-92. From 1993 until 2015 he was Music Director of the Georgian Bay Symphony. From 2001 until 2009 he was Director of the Huronia Symphony. He had many opportunities working with youth orchestras through positions in Edmonton, Mississauga, and Kitchener-Waterloo.

John gradually retired from the baton to return to his first instrument, the voice, and now sings in a number of choirs, particularly the Guelph Chamber Choir. Every year John tries to discover the relationship of Golf to Music when looking at hard work and talent. It is the second element that has yet to show up in his visits to the links.


Ronald Royer, SPO Interim Music Director 2008 – 2009, Music Director 2009 – Present

Ronald Royer is a multi-talented musician who is active as a conductor, composer, cellist, educator, and music producer. Born in Hollywood, he began his career as a cellist, performing with the Utah, Pacific, and Toronto Symphonies, as well as working in the motion picture and television industries in Los Angeles during the 1980s. He is presently serving as the music director and conductor of the Scarborough Philharmonic. He has conducted the Winds of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra for the Canadian Panorama recording, and Sinfonia Toronto for the recordings Premieres, with violinist Conrad Chow, and The Hollywood Flute, featuring flutist Louise DiTullio.

As a composer, his concert works have been performed worldwide by 70 orchestras. The Gryphon Trio, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, cellist Shauna Rolston, and flutist and conductor Patrick Gallois are a few of the prominent musicians who have performed his compositions. Performers on recordings featuring his music include Sinfonia Toronto, 13 Strings of Ottawa, Los Angeles Studio Orchestra, the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, iPalpiti Orchestra, HornPipes Duo, Triofus, cellist Simon Fryer, and trumpeters Barton and Steven Woomert. Mr. Royer is married to Kaye Royer, principal clarinetist of the SPO.

Ronald Royer has been the longest serving Music Director in our SPO history.

You can learn more about Ron here, or on his fantastic new website,


Devin Scott, SPO Executive Director, 2018 – Present

A successful orchestra also needs quality administration and the SPO is pleased to have Devin in his role as Executive Director. With years of experience as a performer, teacher, music director, composer, product specialist with Yamaha Canada Music, graphics artist, publisher, web designer, webmaster, video editor, and sound editor/designer, Devin has been a great part of our team behind the scenes, and a strong leader as we adapt to digital content and platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SPO appreciates the efforts of all General Managers over the last 41 years.

The SPO also appreciates the efforts and support of all of our Presidents, Board members, and volunteers who have worked hard to keep the SPO viable and going forward.

We feel blessed to have had so many wonderful musicians, soloists, ensembles, guest artists, and performers who have joined us on stage for our concerts and special events. An orchestra is only as good as its musicians. As this podcast episode demonstrates, the SPO has always strived to present high quality classical music performances. Some of today’s current members have played since day one. Many have played with the SPO for decades.

Even under current pandemic conditions, the SPO is working to present opportunities for all of our musicians to be involved with our podcast and music performances series.

Finally, we appreciate you, our audience and supporters. We can’t wait to return safely to the stage, to see our amazing friends in person, and continue to offer a top-notch cultural opportunity in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

Thank you to funding partners, including the Toronto Arts Council, SOCAN Foundation, and funds raised through charitable gaming activities at Delta Bingo & Gaming Downsview.

If you can help with a donation to ensure the SPO can keep up the great work, please consider a montly or one-time donation through You’ll also receive a tax receipt issued by It’s easy, safe, and secure.

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