Rosemary Thomson

Kelowna, British Columbia

Rosemary is in her fourteenth season as the Music Director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (OSO) and has recently been named Artistic Director of Opera Kelowna. She is the visionary, pioneer, and motivating force behind those organizations’ performances and educational programs. Rosemary is a community champion and has not only brought musical excellence to the Okanagan but has inspired the lives of residents and enriched communities through her engagement activities. She initiated “Heartstrings” an OSO initiative funded by a generous donor which ensures economic circumstances are not a barrier to attendance. Understanding that music can transform lives, Rosemary spearheaded Kelowna’s participation in Mysterious Barricades, a national concert in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention. COVID did not stop her and her teams from implementing programs to bring music to her community in this time of need, including Sidewalk Serenades where opera singers safely perform live to seniors in isolation, and the Apollo Initiative, a digital performance of six BC youth orchestras raising funds for youth mental health. Rosemary was recently diagnosed with ADHD and advocates for ADHD awareness and support and will be the subject of a forthcoming documentary about her work shepherding the OSO and Opera Kelowna through COVID while coming to understand and celebrate her neurodiversity.


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Strong communities are built from strong relationships and caring people, leaders and supporters who see possibilities and dedication to inclusion. When everyone finds their place in a community they can play to their strengths and be supported in their challenges. Acknowledging the people and the programs who strive for this inclusion helps to inspire their continuation. It also shines a light on future possibilities.