When I started Guelph Musicfest in 2007, there was never a thought about how long the journey would take. The Guelph Spring Festival had just disappeared, and it seemed like the right thing to do. And there was always a direct connection with the beautiful Recital Hall of the Guelph Youth Music Centre which the festival continues to call home. The hall really was designed with chamber music and recitals in mind—the acoustics are wonderful for small ensembles, it had an excellent grand piano, and the space is small enough that everyone can have a direct connection with the performers.
From the beginning, people thanked me, and encouraged me to keep it going. At a certain point, ten years seemed like a nice target. That came and went. There have been many individuals who have added a little extra to their subscription cheques. That has helped, since I basically do everything myself—unpaid administrator, graphic designer, advertising manager, as well as pianist. It’s nice to have a bit in the till when the season is over.
There have been really significant backers along the way. Bob Desautels at the Wooly is one of them. He’s a guy who wants good things for the community to happen, and he lends his support. Another was Rick Davis (Dr. Richard Davis). I didn’t know he was a Doctor. He was just this enthusiastic music lover that I kept seeing at concerts. Then after one Musicfest concert, he came to me with an offer of sponsorship. Tragically, he became very ill and passed away, but before that, he made sure his sponsorship continued for years through his wife June and family.
It comes down to sensing a need for something good, that people appreciate, and being able to do something about it. I don’t know how long the festival will continue, but that’s not an issue now. It is a question of putting together the finest series possible, and with a personal touch that reaches out to the lovers of fine music.
The letters and emails make a difference, too. One of them from last year was especially moving, and I’ve copied it below.
So I hope you love Musicfest, and know that I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know you over the years, and that I welcome the opportunity to meet new people each year. We all share a common bond through music.
Ken Gee, founder/director