Ottawa Symphony Orchestra receives major donation from Neoteric Developments CEO

The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra performed at Southam Hall Monday night.

The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra is celebrating, what it calls in a media release, the largest single donation in its history. At the request of the donor, Shneur M. Bielak, of Neoteric Developments, the amount is not being disclosed, but it is sufficient to fund the OSO’s concertmaster’s chair in the orchestra for two years, a spokesperson says.

The current concertmaster of the OSO is Mary-Elizabeth Brown, who also holds the same post with the McGill Chamber Orchestra. The role of concertmaster is the second most important job in any orchestra, after that of the conductor. The concertmaster sits front and centre in concert to the conductor’s left in what is considered the “first chair.” 

Bielak will also take up a lead role with the OSO’s Community Ambassador’s Circle as it reaches into the community to expand the visibility and sustainability of the ensemble.

His company provides homes that feature integrated technologies. He is also a trained liturgical and professional singer and music aficionado. Bielak was a cantor for nine years at Ottawa’s Kehillat Beth Israel synagogue. He has recorded and his album Gratitude is available on iTunes. He has also received the Robert E. Osborne Memorial Award for the study of religion at Carleton University where he obtained his BA. Music has a central place in Bielak’s upbringing and it is also present in his home today, the OSO said in media release. 

“A named chair is a tremendous honour in any orchestral musician’s career,” Brown said in the release. 

The sponsorship will also cover a master class for orchestra members, led by Olivier Thouin, the associate concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, on Saturday.

This has been a busy year for the OSO. They have opened up a concert series at the Shenkman Centre in Orléans, along with their regular performances at the National Arts Centre. They have also announced a prize for young instrumentalists, the first of which was awarded at the start of this season, sponsored by former senior federal pubic servant Nicole Senécal.

The OSO will also premiere a new piece of music by the legendary Canadian composer Howard Shore on Monday called L’Aube as part of a concert honouring the legacy of the Canadian mezzo-soprano, Maureen Forrester. This performance will be at Southam Hall. For tickets: ottawasymphony.com.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.