Brookside Music Association traces its origin to a house concert that was held in the home of John French, the founding artistic director of the organization. John returned to his hometown of Midland in 2007 and immediately became active in the music community. The first house concert sold out with 50 people in attendance prompting John to affiliate with the national Home Routes organization which sent touring performers across Canada to perform in house concerts. He continued this affiliation for 2 years during which time he hosted 12 events.
Given the success of these events, John decided to expand the reach of his presentations to the broader community and, in 2010, incorporated Brookside Music Association as a not-for-profit organization with a mandate to promote the love of music in the Southern Georgian Bay Region by presenting concerts and educational events of exceptional quality. The name Brookside Music was chosen as his home at which the first concerts were held was located on the edge of a brook in the country.
The initial intent was to hold a summer music festival and, to this end, a series of 6 concerts was held at St. Paul’s United Church in Midland in July and August of 2011. The series included performances by world class artists including The Gryphon Trio, pianist Anton Kuerti, duo pianists Anagnoson and Kinton, The Toronto Consort, Nadina Mackie Jacson & Guy Few. John also performed in this series along with local soprano Victoria Thompson. This series was a great success and John was now able to approach the Ontario Arts Council for support to expand the festival the following year. Brookside was granted funding and the summer Festival of the Bay has been presented exceptional concerts now for over 12 years.
Given the success of the first festival and the support of the Ontario Arts Council, Brookside Music was able to approach the other significant granting agencies and funding over the years has been provided by The Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Department of Canadian Heritage, The Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Huronia Community Foundation as well as various local individuals and small businesses.
In 2012, John decided to expand the presenting activities of the organization and, in addition to the summer Festival of the Bay, a year-round series was established under the banner of “Brookside Presents”. Since that time, Brookside has proudly presented an exceptional roster of performances by artists including The Vienna Boys Choir, Tafelmusik, clarinetist James Campbell, The Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir, Liona Boyd, The New Zealand String Quartet, The Swiss Piano Trio and The Toronto All Star Big Band to name just a few. Brookside has also presented Jazz Cruises on the Bay, Dinner Dance events and Cabaret performances. In keeping with the education component of its mandate, Brookside has worked with local schools, choirs, and other music groups to present workshops, masterclasses, and school concerts.
Brookside has become a significant part of the region’s cultural landscape and John looks forward to bringing more outstanding performances and events in the years to come.