Kingston Community Strings
Kingston Community Strings (KCS) is an amateur community string orchestra located in Kingston, Ontario. Our adult members come from all walks of life and meet Friday evenings to play orchestral music. The origins of KCS go back to 1989 when our founders Jim and Bev Coles and Bob (RJ) Clark gathered a group of like-minded string players at various stages of musical development to learn and perform ensemble music, foster within our players personal growth and satisfaction, and contribute to the community while playing for their mutual enjoyment. The Friday rehearsals and the emphasis on “enjoyment” inspired the original name of the group, TGIF Strings.
Jim Coles and Bob Clark lead the group for its first 25 years and saw the group perform music from the Baroque to the 20th Century. From 2014 to 2020, experienced orchestral musician Wayne Tindale was our Music Director. During Wayne’s tenure KCS performed with many outstanding soloists, performed new works for string orchestra and also performed works written specifically for our group by local composers. In the fall of 2020, Hugh Johnston become our Conductor/Music Director. Now in its 31st year KCS hopes to continue the tradition of enjoyment and challenge that has been our recipe for success.
KCS is proud and fortunate to function under the ‘umbrella’ of the Kingston Symphony Association.
Our group is composed of about 40 musicians who have all levels of ability. Membership in the ensemble is available without audition to players at any level of development past that of a beginner (see below for more details). Principal players in each section are generally very experienced, some are current or former Kingston Symphony members. The Principals include: Concert Master Doug Handforth, Principal Second Violin Emi Nakazawa, Principal Viola Janet Ashbury, Principal Cello Daphne Williams, and Principal Double Bass Doug Rooks. Principals are appointed to their positions by special committee.
We play music that generally challenges us but we realize that setting attainable goals is essential. Our repertoire and extensive library include music from the early Baroque to modern compositions and arrangements. Each season our aim is to expand that library and present repertoire that is fresh and invigorates our members and audiences.
There is a yearly membership fee which partially covers our expenses (see below). We usually rehearse each Friday in Christ Church Cataraqui (CCC) on Sydenham Road from 5:30-7pm.
Generally, KCS presents three concerts per year: fall, winter and spring. Often, we partner with local soloists or other local groups such as Orchestra Kingston or Canta Arya Strings and occasionally we put on extra concerts for charity. Most of our concerts take place in the beautiful sanctuary of Christ Church Cataraqui and last about one hour. Some of the money raised from ticket sales ($15-25/ticket) goes to local charitable organizations and some covers KCS expenses.
From an organizational perspective, we have a Management Committee which oversees the functions and budget of the group. The group is loosely organized into “work groups” that take care of matters like logistics, music preparation/distribution, social opportunities, and so on. The smooth running of the KCS depends on many in the group offering to assist with some organizational role. KCS is under the umbrella of the Kingston Symphony Association.
The KCS music library is extensive and consists of many styles including string classics by Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli and Handel, popular, jazz, Celtic and movie music and also compositions by local/Canadian composers such as H Somers, D Marlatt, Danielle Lennon, John Palmer and Clifford Crawley. Our conductor plans the music for each season using suggestions from KCS members.
BECOME A MEMBER of KCS
We welcome string instrument players (violin, viola, cello and bass) to our group. 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. We play music of a variety of levels. Some pieces are very straightforward while others are symphonic music in its original form. Therefore, this is not the group to learn how to read music or learn basic instrumental technique. However, we’ve 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 encourage 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 people to let us know ahead of time so we can expect you (contact our General Manager, Ted Ashbury at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please note our Membership Fee (annual): $165.
Those who can show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have been meeting weekly on Friday evenings from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at Christ Church Cataraqui, 990 Sydenham Rd, Kingston, ON K7M 3L7. There is plenty of parking for the group. We have had occasional ‘zoom’ rehearsals during the pandemic. On rare occasions, we have a meeting of the group at 5:00 pm before rehearsal. Most people arrive between 5:00 and 5:15 pm. The baton drops at 5:30 and finishes up promptly at 7 pm. Each rehearsal usually focuses on three or four pieces for an upcoming concert, working up to the full programme over the course of a few months.
Our season usually lasts from September to late May.
If you would like to join our group, attend a rehearsal or find out more about Kingston Community Strings, please contact our General Manager, Ted Ashbury, by email email@example.com or by phone at 613-483-8881.