Making beautiful music - Hamilton City Magazine Skip to main content
Celebrating all things Hamilton / Welcome Message
Arts + Culture

Making beautiful music

The Incite Foundation for the Arts supports the contributions of the Burlington Symphony Orchestra and Bach Elgar Choir. 

The Incite Foundation for the Arts has contributed more than $6 million to 30 Hamilton-area organizations, through grants from $2,500 to $150,000, since it was founded in 2011. It is the legacy of the late Carl and Kate Turkstra who believed the arts are key to quality of life and critical to the future of Hamilton. And they believed anyone, regardless of circumstance, should be able to enjoy and pursue music, theatre and visual art. HAMILTON CITY Magazine is showcasing the incredible, creative and talented recipients of Incite grants. Here we share the work of the Burlington Symphony Orchestra and Bach Elgar Choir.

Read all about the legacy of Carl and Kate Turkstra here!

The Burlington Symphony Orchestra

The Burlington Symphony Orchestra. PHOTO: Dave O'Donnell

The Burlington Symphony Orchestra was established in 1973 as the McMaster Symphony but separated from the university and became the Hamilton Symphony in 1988. Then in 2011, it was renamed Symphony on the Bay and finally, in 2019, it became the Burlington Symphony Orchestra. It has found a permanent home in the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Conducted by Denis Mastromonaco, the BSO performs five concerts a year, along with outreach and youth programs and community performances. 

Young bursary performers are mentored by more experienced players. The BSO also runs a youth competition each year. 2023 winner Eric Guo will perform Mendelssohn’s “Concerto No. 1” with the orchestra at its first concert of the season in November.

Ticket sales cover less than 40 per cent of the BSO’s annual budget, meaning that external funding is necessary to keep high-quality musical experiences affordable and accessible for all.

“Incite is such a special and important organization,” says Karen Stothart, manager of operations. “In a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain operating funds from government and municipal sources, Incite is a beacon of light. Their statement that they believe in the power of the arts to enrich communities gives us hope and strength to move forward with our artistic and community goals knowing that we are valued and supported.” 

Last year, thanks to an Incite award and a special gift from the Turkstra family in memory of Carl and Kate Turkstra, BSO did not run a deficit this past financial year. 

“Our depth of programming and our ability to provide music to audiences of all ages is directly attributed to support from the Incite Foundation. It is almost impossible to grow artistically if financial difficulties are a constant challenge. One of Incite’s goals is to allow groups to thrive without fear of monetary encumbrance and this is what Incite does for the BSO. We are so grateful.”

Bach Elgar Choir

The Bach Elgar Choir.

The Bach Elgar Choir has been a cornerstone of choral music in Hamilton for more than 115 years. The ensemble is Hamilton’s auditioned, mixed-voice community choir numbering approximately 65 singers, led by the professional team of artistic director Alexander Cann and accompanist Krista Rhodes, both in their 14th season with BEC. The choir is known for its high-calibre performances, innovative productions and the celebration of Canadian choral music. 

The Bach Elgar Choir has a vision to grow its presence in Hamilton, adding to the city’s vibrancy. BEC has launched innovative and creative works including “Space Journey” which premiered in May, featuring a film of images from the James Webb and Hubble telescopes and the Voyager Spacecrafts, created by Cann and local filmmaker Mark Boschsler, set to live choral music directed by Cann. This performance will be relaunched in 2024 and taken on the road to new audiences in London and Toronto.  

BEC regularly collaborates with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Brott Music, Hamilton’s leading orchestras. A choral scholarship program is in place at the BEC to nurture up-and-coming choral leaders and the choir regularly celebrates Canadian choral music with commissions and special features. 

“Hamilton is so lucky to have Incite,” says Cann. “They connect what we do with an ever-expanding audience and they make great music possible right here in our city.”