The Penticton Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts has faced many challenges reaching people during the pandemic. (The Penticton Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts)

The Penticton Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts has faced many challenges reaching people during the pandemic. (The Penticton Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts)

Conductor joins the Penticton Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts

The academy has faced many challenges amid COVID-19

The Penticton Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (PAMDA) has enlisted the support of a national musical leader to help deliver music education to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has made it difficult for members of the community to have access to music lessons, said Prema Harris, president of the Penticton Academy of Music Society.

“Lessons at PAMDA have changed dramatically this year,” said Harris. “Gone are the days of pop-up choir and belting out songs shoulder to shoulder or sharing music stands in orchestra rehearsal. Instead, PAMDA students and faculty are following new protocols to bring music back while keeping the health risks low.”

READ MORE: Singers to harmonize at pop-up choir

To help come up with creative solutions to the challenges PAMDA is facing, the organization has hired music director Rosemary Thomson as a special advisor.

Thomson, the music director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra of 14 years, joins PAMDA as a conductor and music education veteran. She said she’s looking forward to helping the school adapt amid challenging times.

“I am extremely excited to join PAMDA as an advisor during this phase of creativity and adaptation,” Thomson said. “Running a non-profit music school at the best of times can be challenging. During the current pandemic, though, it’s a struggle trying to connect through music while still staying safely apart.”

Under Thomson’s leadership, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra audiences reached unprecedented levels. She also led the orchestra in creating multiple outreach and education programs throughout the valley.

Thomson has also recently stepped into the role of interim artistic director of Opera Kelowna with plans to expand their community programming.

“I believe that musical experiences are the foundation for important personal and social development,” said Thomson. “Skills and values such as listening, compassion, and cooperation that are developed through musical exposure are gifts that will remain for life.”

READ MORE: Okanagan students first choir to take on Canadian Paralympic song

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