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Dr. Jessica Kun

2011 Richmond Hill

It takes about five seconds with Dr. Jessica Kun[1], Conductor and Artistic Director of the Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra, to know that she is passionate about what she does. “I’ve wanted to be a conductor since I was five years old.” However, that did not ensure a direct path to her goal.

After attending the University of Calgary, she left with a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education degree. She then taught high school music for twelve ye ars. Unfortunately, The Canadian cultural system is not constructed to move someone from high school teaching to conducting, so there was A block in Jessica’s path. Fate was working in her life. She attended a summer conducting course in Calgary and met Tim Reynish.[2]Timothy Reynish is the crème de la crème in the world of conducting. He has been on staff of the Royal Northern College of Music, in Manchester England, since 1975, and he saw something very special in Jessica. He remains her esteemed mentor and friend to this day.

“Meeting Tim was such a gift. He opened doors; he was the only chance to become what I’d always dreamed of being.” Tim suggested that Jessica attend the University of Manchester, and in true form of “following experiences to see where they go”, she did. During her year in Manchester, Jessica conducted extensively across England and came away with a Master of Music degree in Musicology, and a deepening of her musicianship. Then Arizona State University invited her to take their Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting. Of course, she went.

During her time at Arizona State University, Jessica conducted the Wind Symphony, Wind Ensemble, Chamber Winds and the lyric Opera theatre. Two years later, Dr. Kun left Arizona to take the post OF "Director of Instrumental Studies" and professor of music at a private college in Pennsylvania. Describing it as a “really good first job” she stayed there for three years. During a visit back home in Richmond Hill, Jessica read about the building of the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts (RHCPA). Taking a huge leap of faith, she quit her job and moved back to Canada to start an orchestra. No job, no money, but lots of dreams.

Jessica approached the RHCPA with a proposal: she would start an orchestra if they would allow the orchestra to rehearse and perform at the Centre. RHCPA accepted and Jessica is grateful for the fantastic relationship she and her orchestra has with them today. When the RHCPA had their opening, Jessica and her newly formed Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra (RHPO), were featured to perform at the Gala Concert.

Today Dr. Jessica Kun is Conductor and Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. In addition, she works continuously with the Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra, where she is also Artistic Director. Jessica plans every detail of the current five concert season at the RHCPA. Each one is a multimedia, audience interactive, one-of-a kind musical experience. The goal of each performance is to engage the audience so that they leave knowing they participated in something very special. How is it done?

“The orchestra rehearses every week, but never on stage. They don’t know most of what is going to occur during the show. Even I don’t know how it’s all going to come together. On the night of the concert it’s like turning on a Christmas tree for the first time. You have no idea what it is going to look like.” The one sure thing is each concert is a unique musical adventure.

Jessica’s intention is to create a concert experience that raises the bar. “Society needs a paradigm shift in performing arts. It has become too static, too predictable. The integration of technology has made entertainment an interactive experience. Audiences are dying because they are not engaged! When they are a part of the actual performance, they like it; it raises the bar.”

Richmond Hill Philharmonic Orchestra is a non-profit organization created and funded by Dr. Jessica Kun. They play for many community events, such the Richmond Hill Festival of Lights, the Richmond Hill Street Festival and the launch of the Cultural Plan for Richmond Hill.

As a person who is extremely enthusiastic about what she does, Jessica wants to bring that excitement to her audience. It’s her integrity to the music, and working with a group of like-minded musicians, that creates dynamic performances.

“It’s not about me! It’s about the people I work with – being a conduit for the composer. It’s about the music, that’s the bottom line. The voice of the composer – that’s my job; to make real what they have written down.”

Yes, Dr. Jessica Kun is a woman of passionate commitment. She has never strayed from her youthful dreams and we are very, very lucky to have her here in York Region, creating music for us.

* Bio written by Heather Anne Lambert,

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