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Smithers House inaugurated as recital venue

Orchestra North chooses to support the museum in its tour of northern BC
Orchestra North musicians, Left to Right: Judith Souman, Andrea Pedro, Simon Gidora, Leah Froyd, Nicholas Denton-Protsack, Roxi Dykstra. Bottom row: Alex Chernata. Photo submitted

The Vanderhoof community received a gift last week Tuesday evening August 15, and at a new recital venue at the Vanderhoof Community Museum.

Seeing the potential in the Smithers House for intimate chamber music concerts, Orchestra North suggested the concert venue. It was the concert group’s idea to suggest entry-by donation to generate proceeds towards repairs and tuning for the Vanderhoof museum’s heritage piano, recently moved into the beautiful Smithers Building.

And so it was that the wood-clad space of Smithers House, with its incredible hand-laid floors, saw its inagaural concert with pinache.

Orchestra North background

Orchestra North is an annual summer program that takes place in Smithers every August. The program was started five years ago by Program Director, Roxi Dykstra, and Sebastian Ostertag, Academy member.

The program offers an opportunity to bring together the musical talent from throughout Northern BC for a week of music making under the direction of world class faculty. This year brought together around 125 musicians, allowing four string orchestras of varying abilities, a winds ensemble, brass, percussion and composition programs.

A big part of the Orchestra North Summer Program is the Academy program which brings together several emerging your professionals from BC and beyond to give them a chance to make music together and tour Northern BC to help share that music with various communities. This year’s Academy was made up Leah Froyd (Denver, Colorado) and Simon Gidora (Sunshine Coast) on violin, Judith Soumann (Prince George/Waterloo) on Viola, Nicholas Denton-Protsak (Kelowna) on Cello, Alex Chernata (Russia/Burnaby) on Clarinet, and Andrea Pedro (Terrace) on Piano.

Alongside Roxi Dykstra, the Academy performed a concert in the Vanderhoof Museum on Tuesday evening as part of our 7-concert tour.

Diverse repertoire

The music performed spanned various centuries and genres, from classics by Dvorak and Brahms to Tangos and even video game music. The concert was a great success, with an audience overflowing out the doors of the museum. Proceeds from the concert paid for a tuning of the museum’s piano, something that will benefit the Vanderhoof Arts Community for the coming months and years. The reception in Vanderhoof was incredible, and audiences enjoyed everything from Vivaldi to Prokoffiev. Everyone in the Academy had a wonderful time in Vanderhoof, and we all hope to return to play more music in the near future. Thank you to all of Vanderhoof for the wonderful reception and hospitality!

Geographical challenge

We have so much talent in the north and strong interest in the arts. Our challenge is a geographical one: most of our communities are small and isolated, and many of our music professionals and students end up feeling isolated with a very limited group of colleague and mentors to interact with.

Orchestra North offers a resource to music professional and students to meet with one another, be inspired, and network with others like them. Artists (musicians) need collaborative working relationships with colleagues to thrive, and our communities need thriving artists to teach, initiate projects, and share the beauty of their profession.

Founder and director Roxi Dykstra, grew up in the north and has seen first-hand both the challenges in growing up as a musician in isolated areas, as well as working as a music professional in the north. Orchestra North provides one way of networking to overcome this, connecting musicians with one another as well as setting a stage for northern musicians to perform for their own audiences.

Connecting communities through music

Collaborative music-making can be such a positive catalyst for our communities!

The Academy program provides a resource for emerging professionals, connecting young northern professionals to those from other areas, inviting them to share of their talent with northern communities, and allowing them to discover the opportunities that the north has to offer.

Our website is, and you can find the Orchestra North Academy on facebook.

The Academy was quite involved in a 3-day festival, called Spirit of the North Classical Music Festival, which offers 30 concerts and events in Smithers just prior to tour- the website

- with files submitted by Roxi Dykstra and Simon Gidora.