The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is saddened to learn of the passing of Simon Streatfeild, who was Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the K-W Symphony from 2004-2007. Streatfeild’s guidance during a difficult time for the organization left a lasting impression, and he had a profound impact on many KWS musicians during his tenure. Streatfeild will be greatly missed by the music community. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends at this most difficult time.
Simon Streatfeild was born and educated in England where he studied viola at the Royal College of Music in London. Long before his career as a conductor began, Mr. Streatfeild was numbered among Britain’s finest violists, and in 1956 became principal viola of the London Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for over nine years. Whilst with the orchestra he made frequent solo appearances and recordings. During this period Mr. Streatfeild also helped to found the celebrated Academy of St. Martin -in- the-Fields Orchestra.
Mr. Streatfeild came to Canada in 1965 as principal viola of the Vancouver Symphony and in only two years was appointed Assistant Conductor. Three years later he became Associate Conductor, remaining in this position until 1977.
After three years as Conductor and Music Director of the Regina Symphony, Mr. Streatfeild was appointed in 1983 to a similar position with the Orchestre symphonique de Québec, where he remained until 1991. From 1982 he also held the post of Music Director of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra for the next eighteen years.
Mr. Streatfeild undertook guest-conducting in various parts of the world. In Canada he directed every major orchestra, including the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa and the Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. His appearances overseas have included concerts with the Danish Radio Symphony, the Oslo Philharmonic, the Symphony Orchestra of Norwegian Radio, the Belgian Radio Symphony and the Seoul Philharmonic of Korea. For ten years he held the post of Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo, where he was Professor of Orchestral Conducting.
He gave the premier performances of more than eighty contemporary works, most of which were by Canadian composers.
Mr. Streatfeild conducted for many of the world’s foremost artists, including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Alicia de Larrocha, Maureen Forrester, Emil Gilels, Itzhak Perlman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Renata Scotto, Henryk Szeryng, Paul Tortelier and Pinchas Zukerman.
In 1982, Simon Streatfeild became a Canadian citizen, and in 1987 was awarded the medal of the Canadian Music Council in recognition of his services to Canadian music and his support of Canadian artists.
Towards the end of his career Mr. Streatfeild held the position of Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Advisor of Orchestra London, Symphony Nova Scotia and finally the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in 2004-2007.
On the passing of his friend and colleague, Larry Larson, KWS Principal Trumpet had the following to say:
“Simon Streatfeild was not just a Principal Guest Conductor and artistic advisor to the KWS, for he made a huge contribution to KWS during his time with us. After being a frequent and very popular guest conductor with us over many years, Simon was brought into the KWS family following a period of organizational turmoil. Simon was universally loved by the entire orchestra and he brought us back together musically. Many of the concerts that we performed with him during that time will live with me forever – most notably a performance of Paul Hindemith’s “Mathis der Maler” in February, 2004. I last spoke with him on his 90th Birthday this past October, and am very sad that was to be the last time I had to share with my friend. His legacy to music worldwide will be a lasting one, but perhaps no more so anywhere than here with his KWS family. Rest well, my friend.”