Connecting Communities with Music

Just a few short years ago, Carlos Bastidas approached Humber Valley United Church with an inspired idea: connect the community with light classical and popular music while providing students and recent graduates with opportunities to build skills and experience in an orchestra.  From this simple beginning, The Ontario Pops Orchestra grew to one of the most lauded music organizations in Canada.
Carlos Bastidas is the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Ontario Pops Orchestra and Music Director of the Durham Chamber Orchestra.
Carlos is an influencer in the music business, having close ties to many musical, choral and orchestral organizations, including the Etobicoke Centennial Choir, Ave Choir Toronto, Durham Girls' Choir, The Young Singers, The Taylor Dance Centre in Ajax, and the Swansea School of Dance in Toronto. His conducting appearances include Doors Open Toronto, Classical 96.3 FM, and the official opening of the “Canada 150” Celebrations at the Ajax City Hall in 2017.  In June 2019, Carlos received the Heritage Award from the Transformation Institute for Leadership and Innovation.
When Carlos approached the Humber Valley United Church for support for his idea of a community orchestra, he didn't know how quickly things would develop.  The Church agreed to provide rehearsal and performance space in exchange for a split of the ticket proceeds in 2014.  Within a couple of years, the ongoing sold-out success of the Ontario Pops events meant that the orchestra could afford to pay rent, which meant surplus proceeds could be dedicated to bursaries and scholarships for young musicians.  It was at around this time that the Orchestra also received charitable organizations status.
The orchestra consists primarily of volunteer musicians, ranging in age from 15 to 76.  Seven musicians will be joining for the 2019/20 season, having been awarded bursaries.  Student interns from Humber College assist with marketing, public relations and event management.
Each show is preceded by 30 hours of group rehearsal, plus the additional time spent on an individual basis to prepare.  Rehearsals are held every Monday for three hours at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute.  The Orchestra features the music of local composers as well as the talents of guest conductors.  Tickets are affordable: $25 per event or $65 for the season.
The community involvement extends to fundraising.  Ongoing support is provided by The Rotary Club of Toronto West, The Rotary Club of Etobicoke, The Kingsway Humber Kiwanis Club, Dolphin Gaming and FACTOR Canada, among others.
Information about how to sponsor a young musician for a bursary is available here.