The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony was founded out of necessity; in 1945, the Grand Philharmonic Choir was preparing a recital and needed tuneful accompaniment for the harmonic voices. Once its backup duty was over, however, the newly convened orchestra quickly established itself as an independent source for both classical and pops concerts performing more than 100 concerts annually in the Waterloo region. Now home to 52 on-staff musicians, the orchestra continues its decades-long tradition at venues around Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, and Cambridge. From his position as music director, Edwin Outwater oversees the joyful noise, which ranges from baroque to Beethoven to the Beatles and Broadway. Since assuming the role in 2007, Outwater has been one of the orchestra's most vigorous boosters, arranging the group's first commercial recording in a decade, engineering an exploration of prog rock in collaboration with the Institute for Quantum Computing, and knitting sweaters for each musician's instrument.
Initially conceived as a one-off event in 2010, The Smoker's Club has since expanded, presenting fans with tours that unite skilled rappers and expert beat makers. One of the original members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Grammy-winning wordsmith Method Man spouts off dexterous rhymes in a gravely voice obtained by chugging asphalt smoothies everyday for breakfast. Curren$y gently cradles ears with laid-back flow, and frequent Smoker's Club collaborators such as Smoke DZA and Fiend buoy the evening with additional verbal fireworks. The Kool Haus provides a vibrant environment for the musical proceedings, ensconcing guests in a hip nightclub atmosphere with music mixed by Toronto-bred DJ Agile. An enormous dance floor proffers guests with ample space for unabashed rug cutting and wind sprints between marching bands.
Made up of amateurs, students from Wilfrid Laurier University, and seasoned professionals, the 34-member Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra is truly a community ensemble. And the group takes its cultural responsibility seriously—each season, they delve into the lesser known works of beloved 18th and 19th century composers to unearth and play forgotten gems. Before presenting pieces by such luminaries as Beethoven and Mozart, the orchestra invites audiences to pre-concert performances from a small ensemble.