Welcome to the start of an ongoing series of blog posts where we chat to a representative of an ensemble who are taking part in the Commonwealth Community Music Initiative. This month, we are speaking to Dean Williams, Special Events Planner and bassoonist at the L’Orchestre Philharmonia Mundi de Montreal (OPMM) in Canada.
Hi Dean. How did you get involved with OPMM?
I have always loved classical music, although I stopped playing for many years due to my growing family and day job as a high school English teacher! I restarted playing in 2010, so a couple of years later, when I saw that OPMM needed an amateur bassoonist to join the orchestra, I jumped at the chance. Since then, I have just got more and more involved….
What is the history of OPMM?
We started out in 2000 as part of another amateur organisation, and 11 years ago we decided we would rather go independent – and OPMM was born. Before coronavirus, we built up an ensemble of around 80 members – we have a few professionals, but everyone gets treated exactly the same. We are completely self-financed – one of the more interesting ways we raise funds is through a special raffle with [National Hockey League team] the Montreal Canadiens!
Have you done any international events before?
We actually did some exchange events with The People’s Orchestra a couple of years ago; we visited Birmingham in 2018 before TPO came to Canada in 2019. I first had the idea several years ago, before we realised what was possible – and then, once I became [OPMM’s] Special Events Planner, we decided to keep pushing those boundaries. We are currently looking to do further international exchanges in the future.
Our exchange helped give us the idea for the Commonwealth Community Music Initiative….
Absolutely. I remember when Sarah phoned me and told me about the idea – which at the time, the project was much smaller! Since then, it has turned into a massive global celebration. We jumped at the chance to collaborate once again. I truly believe that one of the biggest things which can bring people together is music – and it’s a belief that is right at the heart of this project.
How much are you looking forward to CCMI?
Massively. The previous exchange with The People’s Orchestra was a huge success and a lot of fun. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to do a project like this before, so this is really exciting. The exhibition event weekend and gala concert is a brilliant idea – I can’t wait to see it succeed! For me, the best thing about playing in an orchestra is the amount of good friends you make through it – and I can’t wait to make even more.
Where do you see OPMM heading in the future?
Long term, I think simply participating in this could lead to even bigger things. We would love to participate in the World Amateur Orchestra festival and even one day see it hosted in either Birmingham or Montreal. The sky’s the limit.
You can find out more about the L’Orchestre Philharmonia Mundi de Montreal by visiting their website: https://www.philharmoniamundimontreal.com/orchestre/.
If you would like to be featured as our ‘Ensemble of the Month’, please let us know. Email email@example.com, or message +44 7786 629531, so we can organise an interview.