Kingston Community Strings
Kingston Community Strings

2023-2024 Season

Our 2023-24 Season will explore the relationship between music and drama. For a complete list of concerts, visit Kingston Community Strings Concerts.


Kingston Community Strings is composed of musicians of all levels of ability and membership in the ensemble is available without audition. That being said, our Principal Players are experienced musicians with some being current or former Kingston Symphony players, retired professional musicians or local music educators.

Kingston Community Strings play music from early Baroque to modern compositions and arrangements. Each season our aim is to expand our library and present repertoire that is fresh and invigorates our members and our audiences.

Rehearsals take place Fridays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Christ Church Cataraqui on Sydenham Road. Our season usually lasts from September to late May. Generally, we have three concerts each season - November, March and May – and occasionally we collaborate with other local organizations or bring in guest soloists.

Kingston Community Strings is proud and fortunate to function under the umbrella of the Kingston Symphony Association.

Become a Member

Kingston Community Strings welcome string instrumentalists (violin, viola, cello and bass). There are no auditions, but in order to keep up with the group, it is best to have a firm grasp of musical notation and preferably at least a few years of study on your instrument. The ensemble plays music of a variety of levels. Some pieces are very straightforward while others are string orchestra music in its original form. Therefore, this is not the group to learn how to read music or learn basic instrumental technique. However, we have had novice players successfully join, playing as much as they are able at the beginning, and, being immersed in the full string orchestra environment, improve tremendously in a short amount of time.

Interested musicians are encouraged to attend two or three rehearsals in order to self-assess whether Kingston Community Strings is right for them. While you can just show up at one of our rehearsals, we encourage you to let us know ahead of time by contacting Stephen Yates, General Manager.

The annual membership fee is $150.

Music Director

Hugh Johnston was a regular player in the Kingston Symphony trumpet section from 2001 to 2012 and is an award-winning music educator. He won the MusicCounts Teacher of the Year Juno Award in 2012. Hugh has trained as a musician and conductor at Queen’s University, University of Calgary, and University of London, U.K. His expressive and communicative conducting style, as well as his work in music education, has enabled him to conduct performances at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Cadogan Hall in London, home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In addition to orchestral work, Hugh has conducted numerous musicals, operettas, choirs, bands, and brass ensembles and is currently also Conductor and Musical Director of The Kingston Youth Orchestra.


In the early 1980s Jim and Bev Coles, both violinists in the Kingston Symphony, started a small string group for anyone with the love of string ensemble music. This new group was informal and consisted of eight violins, two violas and two cellos and as they met on Friday evenings, they called themselves the TGIF Strings. One original member, KSO violinist Bob Clark, taught music at LCVI so rehearsals were in his music room at the school.

At first there was no intention to play concerts, however, as more people joined the group it was decided that concerts would provide a good focus, and any money that was raised would be given to charity. Concerts were originally presented at St. Andrew’s Church and thanks to Jim’s dynamic and inspirational leadership and Bev’s organization as General Manager the group thrived and grew.

When Jim retired, the baton was passed to Wayne Tindale, a high school music teacher and trumpeter in the KSO. His wife Jennifer lead the cello section and took on the role of manager. The group moved to Christ Church Cataraqui and it was clear that a more formal organization was needed to run the larger group and increased number of concerts. The name of the group was formalized into The Kingston Community Strings (KCS), but the same principles were carried on: an inclusive group with no auditions and profits going to a designated charity. A committee to help with the organization of the group was formed and the liaison with the KSO was formalized. KCS is now an umbrella group of the Kingston Symphony Association.

In 2019 Wayne retired and the baton was passed once again to our third and current conductor Hugh Johnston.

Many original members still play in KCS, now almost 40 years later and they continue to love playing in a string orchestra on Friday evenings.

KCS from the beginning has embodied inclusivity and joyful quality music making, and this unique ensemble is forever indebted to the vision of Jim Coles.