Will Stroet, host
Will Stroet of Will's Jams is a JUNO-nominated musician, CBC Kids, Universal Kids and KidoodleTV star, educator and dad. He is well loved for his original rock, folk, and blues music with witty wordplay and catchy choruses. Since 2005, Will's performed over 2,000 shows for young audiences across Canada and China. His bilingual music in English and French inspires kids to be active, healthy, creative and engaged in the world. Will's 10th album, “Rocks and Roots," has been nominated for a 2020 CFMA and WCMA, and is a celebration of nature, the outdoors and trying new things. Last fall, he premiered his symphony show with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He’s excited for the Vancouver premiere of this show with the VSO in his hometown.
Will first discovered his talent for writing music for children while completing his education degree at the University of B.C. After releasing his first album in 2005 and playing hundreds of shows around Vancouver, Will knew he had found his calling. In 2009, he took leave from teaching to pursue music full time and has never looked back. His 10 albums (5 in English and 5 in French) have garnered national recognition including a 2017 JUNO nomination, seven Western Canadian Music Award nominations, three from the Canadian Folk Music Awards. In 2015, UBC’s Faculty of Education honoured Will in their top 100 Alumni awards.
Andrew Crust, conductor
Andrew Crust has developed a versatile international career as a conductor of orchestral, opera, ballet and pops programs. Currently serving as the Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony in Canada, Andrew conducts a large number of subscription, pops, educational and contemporary concerts with the VSO each season. Andrew is the newly-appointed Music Director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra beginning in the 20/21, where he programs and conducts the Grand Classics, Pops and Educational series, featuring such soloists as Awadagin Pratt, Amit Peled and Kathrine Jolly.
In the current and upcoming seasons Andrew will debut with the Arkansas and Vermont Symphonies as Music Director finalist, and with the San Diego Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic as a guest conductor. Other recent engagements include performances with the Winnipeg Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Bozeman Symphony and l’Orchestre de la Francophonie in Québec.
Andrew is a 2020 winner of the Solti Foundation US Career Assistance Award. In 2017 he was awarded first prize at the Accademia Chigiana by Daniele Gatti, receiving a scholarship and an invitation to guest conduct the Orchestra di Sanremo in Italy. He was a semi-finalist for the Nestlé/Salzburg Festival’s Young Conductors Award competition, and was selected by members of the Vienna Philharmonic as a winner of the Ansbacher Fellowship, with full access to all rehearsals and performances of the Salzburg Festival.
Andrew is equally at ease in the pit, having conducted ballet with Ballet Memphis and the New Ballet Ensemble, and opera with Opera McGill, College Light Opera Company, Boulder Opera Company, and others. As a Pops conductor, Andrew has collaborated with such artists as Rufus Wainwright, Steven Page, Michael Bolton, Cirque de la Symphonie, and the United States Jazz Ambassadors. Andrew has also established himself as a conductor of films with orchestra.
Andrew served as Assistant Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra from 2017-2019 where he conducted around forty concerts each season. He stepped in last minute for a successful subscription performance featuring Bernstein’s Serenade with violinist Charles Yang. Andrew also served as Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony Program. As the Assistant Conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine from 2016-2018, he conducted a variety of concert series, helped coordinate the orchestra’s extensive educational programs, and helped lead a program for concertgoers under 40 called “Symphony and Spirits”.
Crust was the Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA (NYO-USA) in the summers of 2017 and 2018, assisting Michael Tilson Thomas on an Asian tour, as well as Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop and James Ross at Carnegie Hall and in a side-by-side performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has also served as Cover Conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, San Diego Symphony and Nashville Symphony, Assistant/Cover Conductor of the Boulder Philharmonic and Assistant Conductor of Opera McGill.
Abroad, he has led concerts with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana in Italy, Hamburger Symphoniker at the Mendelssohn Festival in Germany, the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile in Santiago.
As an arranger/orchestrator, Andrew is currently working with Schirmer to make orchestrations of a set of Florence Price’s art songs, has orchestrated works by Alma Mahler and Prokofiev, as well as many pops and educational selections.
Andrew is dedicated to exploring new ways of bringing the classical music experience into the 21st century through innovative programming and marketing, creating community-oriented and socially-sensitive concert experiences, and utilizing social media and unique venues. Andrew is a firm believer in meaningful music education, having produced and written a number of original educational programs with orchestras.
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1919, the Grammy and Juno-award winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is the third largest orchestra in Canada, the largest arts organization in Western Canada, and one of the few orchestras in the world to have its own music school.
Led by Music Director Otto Tausk since 2018, the VSO performs more than 150 concerts each year, throughout Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, reaching over 270,000 people annually. On tour the VSO has performed in the United States, China, Korea and across Canada.
The orchestra presents passionate, high-quality performances of classical, popular and culturally diverse music, creating meaningful engagement with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Recent guest artists include Daniil Trifonov, Dawn Upshaw, James Ehnes, Adrianne Pieczonka, Gidon Kremer, Renée Fleming, Yefim Bronfman, Itzhak Perlman, Bernadette Peters, Tan Dun, and more.
For the 2020-21 season the VSO has created the innovative streaming service TheConcertHall.ca, a virtual home for a virtual season, where more than forty performances will be released throughout the year.