Marc Stevens is the President & CEO at the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. With over 20 years of experience in the international orchestral world, he has worked with renowned organizations such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the National Art Centre Orchestra in Ottawa. Originally from England, Marc fell in love with Canada and has been dedicated to promoting classical music and fostering community engagement through his work with orchestras.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is deeply committed to its community, offering programs like Phil Kids to provide instrument learning opportunities to children in underserved areas.
  • The orchestra aims to represent the diverse population of Calgary both on stage and in its audience, with a focus on attracting people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and interests.
  • The organization measures its success not only by ticket sales but also by the impact it has on individuals and the sense of belonging it fosters within the community.

Inspiring Through Music Education

The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra has been a pillar of the Calgary arts community since 1955. Under the leadership of Marc Stevens, the organization has made it a priority to engage with the community through various programs and initiatives. One such program is Phil Kids, an after school instrument learning program inspired by the renowned El Sistema program in Venezuela. Phil Kids provides children in underserved areas of Calgary with the opportunity to learn an instrument and experience the transformative power of music.

Marc emphasizes the importance of music education and its ability to inspire and empower young people. He believes that by providing children with instruments and a sense of purpose, they can develop valuable skills and connect with others in their community. The Phil Kids program not only teaches children how to play an instrument but also instills in them a sense of belonging and the confidence to pursue their passions.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is dedicated to representing the diverse population of Calgary both on stage and in its audience. Marc highlights the importance of programming that appeals to people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and interests. Contrary to popular belief, the orchestra’s audience is not limited to older generations. In fact, the largest age group in their audience is 35 to 44-year-olds, comprising 21% of attendees.

The organization also strives to attract a diverse range of ethnicities to its concerts. According to a survey conducted by the orchestra, 21% of respondents identified as Indigenous, Black, South Asian, East Asian, Arab, or of mixed ethnicities. This data confirms that the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is successfully reaching a broad audience and creating a welcoming space for people from all walks of life.

Measuring Success and Impact

While ticket sales are an important metric for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, they are not the sole measure of success. The organization aims to make a positive impact on individuals and the community as a whole. Marc acknowledges that some outcomes, such as the long-term effects of the Phil Kids program, are difficult to measure. However, the orchestra relies on subjective data, feedback from teachers and professionals, and personal stories to gauge its impact.

The orchestra’s commitment to community engagement and its ability to create a sense of belonging are key indicators of success. Marc believes that the arts, including orchestras, have a unique role to play in bringing people together and bridging divides. By providing a space where people can connect through music, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra contributes to a more inclusive and harmonious community.


The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, under the leadership of Marc Stevens, is not just an organization that performs beautiful music. It is a catalyst for change, a force for inclusivity, and a source of inspiration for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Through programs like Phil Kids and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, the orchestra is making a lasting impact on the community it serves.

Marc’s vision of leadership is rooted in humility, active listening, and a dedication to serving others. He believes that true leadership involves constantly learning, questioning oneself, and daring to do what is necessary. By embodying these principles, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra continues to thrive and make a difference in the lives of its audience members and the broader community.

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