Against the odds, the show goes on in Antigonish

By Phil Stephens, Interim Associate Director of Philanthropy

Visit St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and you’ll find a small performance space named Immaculata Auditorium, said by CBC producers to be one of the best chamber music spaces East of Quebec. One of Canada’s oldest universities, St. Francis Xavier was founded in 1853, and the auditorium itself was built on campus in 1917. Home to performances and community events for the university and the town for a century, Immaculata remains a significant contributor to the arts and the cultural life of Antigonish.

Over the past year, the Antigonish Performing Arts Series (APA) staff, who program in the space, learned that the funding base provided by the University since 1973 would be entirely withdrawn, effectively ending the performing arts offered on stage there.

APA responded by launching a fundraising appeal to their subscriber base, with the goal of building the resources required to keep the series running for the 2017/18 Season.

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra has played in Immaculata Auditorium as part of the Series in the past, but for our upcoming Eastern Canada tour this fall, it fell off our schedule, for a reason that was not clearly defined during the time that the tour was being built. The rest of the dates filled up, and everything was scheduled out for the orchestra.

Fast forward to March 2017, and the inspiring generosity of the community around APA had successfully raised a phoenix from the ashes, and has bravely embarked on producing one more season in the hall.

Dr. Michael Steinitz

APA Director and St. Francis Xavier physics professor Dr. Michael Steinitz reached out to Tafelmusik’s Director of Artistic Operations and Administration Beth Anderson, with a request to have Tafelmusik participate in a season made possible by the strong bond of community spirit.

“Under normal circumstances, we would have said that the tour was full, but in this case I was touched by their story of resilience and determination. I felt that we could do a lot of good in this situation,” says Beth. “When we approached some of the Tafelmusik musicians (a few of whom will travel with their families) to add one more performance to an already intense tour, their answer was a resounding yes. At this critical moment of re-starting the series, we want to participate in the rally for ongoing support.”

When Dr. Steinitz heard back from Tafelmusik about the decision, his reaction was notable. “YES, YES, YES! We’re flying high since we saw your email, and will do everything to make your stay wonderful. We are very, very excited.”

Tafelmusik performing J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation. Photo credit: Glenn Davidson

Part of the 2017/18 Antigonish Performing Arts Series, Tafelmusik is proud to bring Alison Mackay’s J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation to Immaculata Auditorium on Friday, November 24, 2017, as part of an Eastern Canada tour that also includes Montreal, Sackville, Charlottetown, Wolfville, and Halifax.

To contribute to the APA campaign, please send a cheque made out to “The Governors of St. Francis Xavier University”, with a notation on the bottom saying “for the Performing Arts Series”, to Michael Steinitz at the Physics Department, St. Francis Xavier University, PO Box 5000, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5. Donations will receive a tax receipt.

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