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SSO introduces new character

Every piece played by an orchestra has a story — just like the orchestra itself. In the case of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, a new character has come on the scene, and she's got some big ideas on how to make the songs even sweeter.
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Every piece played by an orchestra has a story — just like the orchestra itself.

In the case of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, a new character has come on the scene, and she's got some big ideas on how to make the songs even sweeter.

Dawn Cattapan became part of the SSO team this September, and is already hard at work. The young executive director wants the Orchestra to be more accessible; Something anyone can enjoy, no matter how versed they are in classical music or how much money they have to spend on a ticket.

The stuffy, “sit-up-straight” theory often associated with the art couldn't be further from the truth, Cattapan said.

“It's not how classical music started,” she said.

In fact, classical music was once the “bar” music of its day. People would laugh, talk, play cards and gamble as orchestras played in the background. While that's not quite the mood the SSO is going for, Cattapan said she wants people to feel comfortable at concerts. After all, the entire point is to simply be entertained by the music.

“You're there to enjoy it,” she said. “It's important to make the concert experience as enjoyable as possible.”

After all, it's audiences that make the show. Without them there, the Orchestra has no one to play for.

“Without our audience, we are nothing,” Cattapan said.

In the coming seasons, Cattapan said she'd like to make it easier for everyone in the community to be able to enjoy what the professional music group has to offer.

“It's important to make the experience affordable,” she said, while still ensuring the SSO is profitable. Cattapan would like to acquire sponsorship, to help supplement ticket costs, making it easier for students and others without disposable income able to attend concerts.

Cattapan has seen it work when she was part of other artistic groups, and believes it could happen here. After graduating from arts management at the University of Toronto, Cattapan went on to work for Reel Canada, bringing festival films to classrooms, before moving on to marketing at the National Ballet of Canada.

Her next venture saw her at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, until she was hand-picked for an arts and culture position under a Toronto city councillor. Having held a variety of positions in her short professional career, Cattapan has been able to come to terms with where she wants to be, and how to best do the job.

“My heart is in the arts,” she said. Now that she's in the right field, in the city she grew up in, she can focus on her duties.

“The job of the executive director is balancing a lot of priorities,” she said.

When she was hired, the SSO was looking for “a dynamic leader with strong experience in the arts and a good business sense,” according to Dave Petryna, SSO board president and chairman.

“We definitely found that in Dawn,” he stated in a media release. “We selected from a strong pool of candidates from across North America and found that our best candidate just happened to be a native Sudburian. Dawn will make an excellent addition to an already strong organization and superb symphony orchestra.”

Along with making SSO more accessible, Cattapan said she has plans to up fundraising ventures to ensure the organization stays in the black and has the resources to move forward.

“The more money you have, the more cool things you can do,” she said.

Outreach is a something she'd like to see happen “on a bigger scale,” and ensuring the performers in the SSO are adequately challenged is important to her, too.
“(I want to) remind them why they love doing this,” she said.

If she gets to “dream big,” the director said she'd also love a new piano to replace the one that is currently “ailing.”

The upcoming season has quite a few highlights, including a new year's celebration show, classical shows and a piece written specifically for the SSO about Sudbury by composer Jason Noble.

For more information about the SSO, visit sudburysymphony.com.


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