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  • Writer's pictureCorey Gemmell

Concertmaster Silver Anniversary

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

25 Years ago I received a phone call from what was then called Symphony Hamilton Orchestra, currently the Burlington Symphony Orchestra.Their concertmaster had just left and they needed someone right away...I was only, ahem, cough, 27 years old at the time and working in Toronto playing in the sections of the National ballet, COC, various musicals, all the usual activities one does to start earning a living playing the violin. As a teenager I had played in some local musicals and Michelle Fawcett, french horn player with Burlington Symphony Orchestra and a colleague and friend from my musical days in Hamilton, recommended me to then music director James Mackay, and arranged for us to meet and thus started me on my path. Up to that point I didn't really have a career plan, just a "let's see where this takes me" approach. As it turns out I was very fortunate because the opportunity to lead as concertmaster of this orchestra allowed me to learn and earn skills and opportunities I never would have developed otherwise.

The Burlington Symphony Orchestra is an amazing group of dedicated professional and amateur musicians whose passion for music is truly humbling. They gave me the chance to grow and learn to lead and develop as a soloist and concertmaster and violinist that now, looking back, makes me realize how little my university studies really prepared me for what I really needed to know. I have learned so much from these wonderful musicians and I appreciate how lucky I am to have worked with them for so many years.

A colleague and friend, Glenn Welbourn, a violist with the BSO, put me in touch with a former colleague and friend, cellist and pianist Lianne Tan, VP of the Dundas Valley Orchestra, with whom I had the pleasure of performing Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto a year before Covid. She wanted to host a recital in celebration of my 25 years with the BSO at West Plains United Church in Burlington, where she is the music director and runs a concert series. I leapt at the opportunity and now find myself preparing for our concert on April 2nd at 3pm at West Plains United.

I contacted the amazing pianist Benjamin Smith, a native of Chatham-Kent and a former student of BSO's own Andrea Battista, and we put together this program of exciting music for violin and piano. I can't express how much I am looking forward to this concert on my "home turf". This concert is also in advance of my performance of Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy as soloist with the Burlington Symphony Orchestra on May the 14...a great Mothers' Day gift by the way...hint...hint!

Please join Benjamin and myself on April 2 2023 at 3pm at West Plains United for what we hope will be a delightful afternoon of some of our favourite solo violin and piano music. Our program includes Mozart's Violin Sonata in B Flat Major K.454, Fauré's Violin Sonata in A Major Opus 13, Bach's Partita #3 for Solo Violin BWV 1006 and Sarasate's Serenata Andalasia. This concert is also being live-streamed in case you are unable to drive in person.

Tickets can be had at or by calling 905-529-4871 or by email

We look forward to seeing you there!

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