A low brass colleague of mine found this very odd piece of CPO history at a garage sale.
Read on to find out what Albertans (and people who wish they were Albertans) who hate classical music apparently enjoy listening too, I promise, it only gets more interesting.
So, in 1972 the Calgary Philharmonic, in the early stages of its professional status released this very oddly titled album with somewhat hilarious cover photography. Here’s the thing, look carefully at the back cover…
Yes, the orchestra performing on the record is not the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, it is the somewhat more famous Boston Pops under the baton of Arthur Fielder, who according to the jacket “is the favorite guest conductor in the history of the Calgary Philharmonic.” (Emphasis not added.)
For those with weaker eyes, here is the jacket text in it’s entirety:
The Calgary Philharmonic Society had an idea: to create a Variety Album containing samplings of highly appealing classics, to select music that would, in particular, delight the ears and hearts of the people of Alberta; to arouse the Interest of non-classical music buffs in this province; to win these people over to the ranks of symphony enthusiasts; to Inspire a genuine desire for concert-going.
The Idea was splendid. And so was the man chosen to do the job. Arthur Fiedler is the favorite guest conductor in the history of the Calgary Philharmonic. Under his baton the orchestra has enjoyed enormously enthusiastic audiences. The rapport between Maestro Fiedler and the people of Calgary is very special indeed.
The quality of selections and the calibre of performance in a Fiedler Concert verify the exceptional communication and understanding between the conductor, his musicians and the Alberta audience. The range in this album extends from ever popular melodies to lesser known movements. And while the mood is generally light and lyrical, there are serious and dramatic selections as well. The gamut runs from Strauss’s Roses from the South to Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King … from Prokofieff’s Love for Three Oranges to Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Little Swans. The combination Is irresistibly appealing, the presentation thrilling and the listening pure pleasure from beginning to end.
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra which Fielder has conducted on five occasions dates back to 1910 in one form or another with the exception of a break caused by the First World War. Since 1928 the city has had a continuous symphony season. The ten regular concerts established in 1955 became double concerts in 1968.
With the engagement of Maurice Handford as Principal Conductor and Musical Director in 1970 the orchestra’s growth has been explosive. Now the fastest growing orchestra in Western Canada, the Calgary Philharmonic has more than doubled its concert activities in two years. Notable achievements have been the formation of a 180-voice Philharmonic Chorus and the introduction of Pops, Gala and Chamber series in addition to the double-concert Main Series.
During 1971, the Calgary Philharmonic received national recognition in the Financial Post when Arnold Edinborough wrote, “What Handford has done with the Philharmonic in two years is quite remarkable. From a semi-professional orchestra, he has created an almost entirely professional orchestra, with the same kind of verve and elan that Mario Bernardi has stimulated National Arts Centre, Ottawa.”
A dozen years after this album’s release Bernardi himself would come to Calgary and stimulate the CPO for the next decade.