Bay of Quinte Tourism

Quinte Symphony Returns After Two-Year Hiatus

Birds-eye view of the Quinte Symphony as performers sit around the stage. Instruments include string and wind instruments.


The conductor of the Quinte Symphony leads the orchestra in a performance. The shot is taken from the perspective of one of the musicians, looking over a few of them with a focus on the conductor.Collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to the Quinte Symphony, according to the organization’s president, flutist Debbie Shaw. Almost forty members strong, the group relies on each other for everything from brainstorming ideas for concert themes to providing music director Dan Tremblay with feedback during auditions.

“We’ve got a six-member board and everyone contributes,” declares Shaw, whose own duties range from posting symphony news on social media to booking soloists. “It’s a really good team.”

Founded over sixty years ago by Steven Choma, alongside Thomas and Sonja Bata of Bata Shoe fame, the musical group first enjoyed a kind of migratory status, travelling to various area communities in search of appropriate venues. In those days they were known as the Eastern Ontario Concert Orchestra, but changed the name along with the new millennium to a moniker which better reflected their home base.


Another big change comes this year when the symphony swaps its longtime venue at Bridge Street United Church for the stage at Belleville’s Maranatha Church. Shaw notes this relatively new state-of-the-art facility boasts many advantages, including ample parking, movable seating and a layout involving one level, something she hopes will appeal to audience members looking to avoid lots of stairs.

It seems venues always occupy a major part of any performer’s head-space. Finding a place to play returned to the top of the group’s “to-do” list recently when Covid made everything infinitely more complicated. On hiatus since 2020, a few symphony members enjoyed some virtual gigs, but the orchestra as a whole could not even get together to practise.

“When you’re in a group made up of a lot of wind instruments, it’s very hard with Covid,” laughs Shaw good-naturedly, explaining online rehearsals couldn’t work due to inherent technical challenges like delay.

Fortunately, a few outdoor concert opportunities came along to help the group navigate Covid’s stormy waters. Appearances at the Mayor’s Concert and the Quinte Family Arts Festival allowed the musicians to do what they love best, and also presented a chance to showcase what this cooperative and creative group is all about.

Cory Diening plays the string base while looking at sheet music.
Cory Diening playing the string bass.

“Some of the musicians gave a little information about their instruments and children in the audience got to come up and take turns conducting,” chuckles Shaw, adding fourteen secondary students temporarily joined their ranks under the leadership of local teacher and Quinte Symphony string bassist, Cory Diening, “We’re always looking for strings.”

Thinking about auditioning? Interested musicians should prepare two pieces, one technically challenging and one lyrical, advises Shaw.


Anyone wanting to enjoy the symphony from an audience perspective will be happy to know their first regular concert season since Covid starts Saturday, October 29th with some Halloween-themed tunes. The symphony’s repertoire generally relies heavily on standard orchestral music, but Shaw happily notes there are always exceptions. This particular concert features music from Jaws and Jurassic Park, and in a nod to that ever-present spirit of community collaboration, local students will provide artwork to go with the show.

Details and tickets for this and upcoming shows are available on the Quinte Symphony website.



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Bay of Quinte Region is an alliance of interdependent communities, bound together by a common history, shared economy, and the water that surrounds and defines us. We hope to welcome you soon.

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Bay of Quinte Region is an alliance of interdependent communities, bound together by a common history, shared economy, and the water that surrounds and defines us. We hope to welcome you soon.