New assistant conductor to lead K-W Symphony’s Christmas concert
KITCHENER — Vancouver-born Alexander Cannon trained as a trumpet player and admits there are not a lot of jobs available for professional trumpet players in classical music orchestras or ensembles.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle,” said the 36-year-old. “Then this opportunity came up.”
That opportunity was as the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s new assistant conductor, a threeyear term designed to give talented young musicians an opportunity to learn and to grow while directing one of the country’s most accomplished orchestras.
Intimidating? Perhaps. But Cannon, who will lead the orchestra Dec. 14-16 for the annual Yuletide Spectacular at Centre in the Square, is keen to learn and share his ideas through this unique program.
“I knew about the symphony as a premier symphony in Canada,” he said, adding with a laugh, “I feel like I’m being paid to learn.”
Cannon’s earliest memory of being involved in music was singing in children’s choirs, and his father was also a trumpet player. His career path seemed destined.
“I never really thought of anything else,” he said. “At 15, I started composing.”
Cannon holds a PhD in music from the University of British Columbia, where he was twice the recipient of the university’s graduate fellowship.
He was the assistant conductor of the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra.
As a trumpet player, Cannon performed with ensembles including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Opera, Vancouver New Music and the Vancouver Chamber Choir.
Cannon was also head of brass at the Vancouver Academy of Music at SK Lee College where he conducted youth orchestras at the Saint James Music Academy.
Cannon’s roles in music have included conducting, composing and adjudication.
There is hardly a role in music he has not explored, and now he has brought all that ambition and experience to the K-W Symphony.
“It’s not about one person’s idea for a group of people,” he said.
“It’s taking the best part of everybody, bringing out the best qualities.
“If you’re a strong musician, it doesn’t matter what instrument is in your hand.”
The instrument in Cannon’s hand for the Yuletide concert will be a baton, and given this is one of the largest annual concerts the symphony presents, he will have his hands full, conducting 200 performers on stage in a tradition that is as much about fun as it is great music. That suits Cannon fine.
“I’m definitely a jokester,” he said, noting the concert will allow him to release his goofy side.
This year, this holiday concert will feature stories about “Scrooge,” the “Gift of the Magi,” “The Nutcracker” plus “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” and there is always a carol singalong which can be quite powerful with nearly 2,000 audience members involved.
Mostly in tune. Always with spirit.
The concert will feature special guests including actress and singer Glynis Ranney, dancers from Carousel Dance Company performing excerpts from “The Nutcracker,” plus the 125-voice Grand Philharmonic Choir and its children’s choir.
K-W Symphony’s new assistant conductor, Alexander Cannon, wiill lead the orchestra Dec. 14-16 for the annual Yuletide Spectacular at Centre in the Square..