The TBSO has announced that Simon Rivard, the symphony’s conductor-in-residence, will be stepping down from his post, effective immediately. He will be replaced by the equally gifted and energetic Mélissa Biroun, who will assume duties as the interim conductor-in-residence.
Biroun is a graduate of the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal in classical piano studying under Louise Bessette, and also a graduate of Vanier College in jazz piano under Eric Harding. After graduating, she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in composition at the Université de Montréal. An accomplished student, Ms. Biroun won a bursary and two residencies. Her emerging career in composition led to writing jazz and popular arrangements and collaborating with a number of ensembles and dance companies.
Internationally, Biroun interned as conductor of the Mihail Jora Philharmonic Orchestra (Romania), the Adelphi Symphony Orchestra (New York), and has studied conducting under Dina Gilbert.
Since 2016, Biroun has worked as a music teacher at the Collège Sainte-Anne de Lachine where she led the chorus, jazz combos, chamber orchestra and a vocal a cappella group. The ensembles have performed at various locales such as the Rialto Theatre and the International Congress. In 2017 Ms. Biroun was appointed Music and Artistic Director of the Harmonie Calixa- Lavallée de Sorel.
Concurrent with her position at the TBSO she will be completing her Master’s degree with Alain Cazes in wind orchestra conducting at the Schulich School of Music at the McGill University.
Citing his reasons for leaving, Mr. Rivard said, “it would be unfair to both the TBSO, the Toronto Symphony (where he is now the resident conductor), and to the other obligations that have arisen since my return to Canada this summer. I would simply be stretched too thin.” Putting that into focus, Mr. Rivard spent time in the summer conducting at the prestigious Verbier Festival in Switzerland and will be auditioning for the music director position at Symphony Nova Scotia this season in addition to his duties with the Toronto Symphony.
Speaking to the changes, music director Paul Haas said, “These are exciting times for the TBSO. Simon’s success proves that our orchestra chooses some of the very best talents in the country. Good for you, Simon! And welcome aboard, Mélissa. I’m sure you are going to love Thunder Bay—and Thunder Bay is going to love you!”
Ms. Biroun will make her first appearance leading the orchestra on Sunday, October 28, for TBSO’s Halloween Spooktacular at Grassroots Church which is proudly sponsored by The Walleye.
For more information visit tbso.ca.