The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1884 as The Hamilton Orchestral Society and grew to become one of Canada’s major professional orchestras.
Today, the HPO is a leader in Hamilton’s robust arts community where it provides professional orchestral services and music education programs to address the needs of the community. The HPO continues to commission and premiere works and is one of the artistic jewels of the Hamilton/Burlington area. The combined musical talents of its artists continue to enrich the community and enhance the quality of life for its residents.
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is committed to enriching and serving the cultural life of the region. In addition to our mainstage concert series at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place), new programming such as the annual What Next Festival of New Music and Concerts in the City bring the live orchestral experience to a broader range of people. As a key contributor to the development of a vibrant downtown, and a resource for the city in attracting and retaining the creative class, the HPO is an important part of this community.
Since its opening in 1973, the Great Hall at FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place) has been the home of the HPO. With a tradition of reaching out to the community, the HPO has performed at a number of other venues, including the Mohawk College Theatre, McMaster University, Gage Park, Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, and perhaps most famously, in Hamilton’s trademark steel mills. Other unique venues include Central Presbyterian Church, Christ Church Cathedral, the Baltimore House, the Pearl Company and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
The HPO established itself as a major force through its association with former Music Director Boris Brott and through the contributions of other artistic leaders including Lee Hepner, Mario Bernardi, Victor Feldbrill, Timothy Vernon and Daniel Lipton. Most recently, the leadership of former Music Director James Sommerville ushered in a new era at the HPO, heightening the calibre of performance and service to the community. Following James Sommerville’s tenure as Music Director (2007-2015), the HPO hired New Zealand-born Gemma New as Music Director in 2015. A number of HPO musicians have gone on to major careers – perhaps most famously, the Canadian Brass. Members of the HPO perform with many other ensembles including the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the Orchestra of the National Ballet and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
To enrich the wellbeing of the greater Hamilton region by engaging, educating and inspiring the community through outstanding professional orchestral music.
In May 2018, the HPO adopted the following Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Declaration (IDEA) provided by Orchestras Canada:
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is committed to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Because we care about the vitality of our art form, we seek to better understand, reflect, engage, and celebrate our diverse community.
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is situated upon the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas. This land is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, which was an agreement between the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek to share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes. We further acknowledge that this land is covered by the Between the Lakes Purchase, 1792, between the Crown and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Today, the City of Hamilton is home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island (North America) and we recognize that we must do more to learn about the rich history of this land so that we can better understand our roles as residents, neighbours, partners and caretakers.
Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Commitment
Given the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the HPO is committed to reading a land acknowledgement at the beginning of our events to give time for reflection and to demonstrate recognition of Indigenous lands, treaties and peoples.
Action 79 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action calls upon the arts community, in collaboration with the federal government, survivors and Aboriginal organizations, to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration. We regard the land acknowledgement as a first step in this direction with the goal of future artistic programs and collaborations to address this call to action.