Raymond M. Baril
There was never a question that Raymond Baril would make his career in music. His father was a music producer and his mother an opera singer. “Music has been part of our family for at least a century.” Baril began playing clarinet at age 10, took up saxophone at age 15, and after attending the University of Alberta, he became one of the busiest saxophonists and woodwind specialists in Edmonton.
Baril got his first job as saxophonist with Tommy Banks in 1978. After earning his Master’s degree in conducting from Northwestern University in Chicago, he turned down attractive opportunities, choosing to return to Edmonton. “Edmonton was kind of a wild west. There was opportunity here and you could try things. It’s always been that way.”
Over the years he has amassed an impressive CV that includes numerous teaching awards and performances as conductor and woodwind player. Baril is Assistant Professor of Music and Section Head at MacEwan University, where he oversees all aspects of music performance. He has been director of the MacEwan University Big Band since 1986.
He is in his 19th season as artistic director and conductor of The Edmonton Winds, an ensemble he has taken around the world. In 2015, this relatively unknown band from Edmonton became the darling of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles showcase in San Jose. “We really have made significant contributions in taking our city across international borders.” Most recently, Baril produced the public memorial tribute to Tommy Banks.
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I’ve worked hard and I’ve chosen to remain in a great city; Edmonton has provided me with a rich and fulfilling life.”
Steven D. LePoole
Steven D. LePoole grew up knowing music is important in life. His father was into jazz and his mother into classical music. After emigrating from the Netherlands when he was 11, LePoole recalls travelling into Edmonton with his mother to attend Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concerts. It is not surprising he would devote countless volunteer hours as an adult to enhancing Edmonton’s music scene.
As a first seed donor to the Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta (YONA Sistema), the ESO’s program for underserved youth, LePoole has made significant contributions to the City’s arts community but has also made small, personal gestures like paying for indoor shoes for the children in the program, for whom he knew there was no money for a second pair. He served on the board of NorQuest College and mentored students who had come to Canada from elsewhere but required upgrading before they could begin a program at NorQuest.
LePoole’s tenure as chairman of the board of the ESO and the Francis Winspear Centre for Music was a time of innovation for both, including restructuring of management and governance and the ESO’s performance in New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall. Ten years retired as CEO of the family business, Di-Corp, LePoole serves on a number of boards.
A major project he has been involved with is the completion of the Winspear Centre. “It’s a concert hall, but it’s dark when there is no concert. We just got the money needed to complete the expansion. A beautiful addition will make it a community engagement building designed for performance and education, and there will be people going through from morning till night.”
“I heard a speech by Michaelle Jean in which she said education is the key to freedom. I agree; education is critical.”
Allan E. Scott
As a kid, Allan Scott played the violin until he was 11 or 12. Then Little League baseball and golf won out. But in the long term, the City of Edmonton got the prize. Scott’s dedication to the Art Gallery of Alberta over the past 17 years helped transform the AGA into a museum of international significance. Scott oversaw the entire rebuilding project from conception to comple-tion, from architectural competition and fundraising through the entire construction process.
With a long career in business behind him, including senior positions with Canadian Utilities Ltd., EdTel, Alberta Government Telephones, and TELUS, Scott retired as President and CEO of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation in 2007 to devote full time to the volunteer work of building the new Alberta Gallery of Art.
“A lot of people thought we were pushing the envelope to build a top-tier art gallery in Edmonton. It takes an unbelievable team to get something like this done. It’s such a community effort. Everyone has been super supportive.”
Scott made a significant initial donation, and chaired the Board of Directors, the Building Committee, and the Capital Campaign.
“We had a model of the proposed gallery in a box. And we’d say, ‘Tell us you don’t want us to build this.’ We used that as part of our sales pitch.”
Scott’s original, some would say “audacious,” vision has come true, thanks to the government, business, and public support he marshalled for this city’s Art Gallery of Alberta.
“The museum will be another big piece of the arts district. Edmonton is coming of age.”
“I’d always been enthusiastic about cultural flagships in the community. We understood that a top-tier gallery could be a flagship and economic developer for Edmonton.”
Shelley R. Switzer
Shelley Switzer is celebrating her 30th year with the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival. “I am seriously addicted. Over the years I’ve experienced true grace when the audience interacts with the performers and with each other. That’s the magic of this festival and why it is such a joy for me.”
Switzer has had a lifetime involved in the arts and a natural gift for teaching and leading. “I was bossy and organized.” She was a school teacher and was involved in community theatre when a friend said the Calgary Olympics needed a stage manager. This experience built her expertise in large sized events and led to working at the Edmonton StreetFest. In 1992, Switzer left Calgary to work at Toronto based Theatre Direct Canada and negotiated her holidays to coincide with Edmonton StreetFest dates.
Switzer travels the world to bring unique acts to Edmonton and is proud that some of the best international artists live in Edmonton. She has expanded the Festival’s year-round programs, including Comedy Cares, which brings entertainment and joy to children, adults, and seniors in care facilities. She has also helped start and works on Street Performers Festivals in Grande Prairie, Red Deer, Spruce Grove, and North Battleford. “Unlike any other art form, street performance is based on a democratic art form. The audience decides the value at the end of the performance – a beautiful way to invite and include everyone."
“We were brought up in an amazing, loving home and no matter what our talent or ability was, we understood from an early age, the importance of giving to and contributing to our community and world.”
“Through StreetFest, the amazing artists, and this unique art form, we help build a community that smiles and laughs, not just during the Festival but hopefully every day.”