Rosemary Thomson

Top 40 Over 40 Presented by BDO: Rosemary Thomson

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce hosts Top 40 Over 40 program

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is once again launching its ‘Top 40 Over 40 presented by BDO’, to celebrate individuals in the community over the age of 40.

These are people who showcase as mentors, champions and role models and who encourage and foster the future leaders of the community.

The Kelowna Chamber is highlighting new honourees between February and July 2021. Each year the program alternates between Over 40 and Under 40 Honourees. This is the sixth year of the program as 2021 marks an “Over 40” year.

The musical resume for Rosemary Thomson is extensive: Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (OSO) music director and conductor (2007-present); Opera Kelowna artistic director (2020 – present); OSYO (Youth Orchestra) – co-conductor (2012-present); OSO Chorus – founder and conductor (2009-present); Calgary Philharmonic resident conductor and chorus master (2002- 2006); Winnipeg Symphony resident conductor (1997- 1999); Canadian Opera Company assistant conductor (1998 – 2004); Continuum Contemporary Music Ensemble – conductor (Toronto, 1994-2008); Opera Nuova – conductor/faculty (Edmonton, 2005-present).

Anyone who has spent even a short time with Rosemary knows that “passion,” “knowledge” and “world view” accurately describe her take on life.

Since moving to the Okanagan, she has strived to create multiple opportunities for the community to engage with the orchestra and opera.

At the OSO, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, Rosemary has provided programs for all ages from Symphony Storytime (preschool); Symphony at the Library (families/seniors); Middle School Band Clinic; OSO Youth Chorus; Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra (OSYO); OSO Chorus; and the Chamber Salon series for seniors as well as the Heartstrings initiative, funded by a generous donor which allowed the OSO to provide tickets to those for whom finances may be a barrier.

With Opera Kelowna, the OSO initiated Sidewalk Serenades in response to COVID which sees singers perform safely from the sidewalk on all sides of long-term care residences.

As the most vocal of seven children in her family, Rosemary says for as long as she can remember, she has been organizing groups of people to do things together. She loves to be able to go from the visioning, brainstorming concept to the actual stage presentation, and she gets her best ideas when collaborating with others.

She goes all out to lead in a way that brings out the best in people, having been described as being “demanding, but really nice about it.”

Rosemary has had strong mentors along her musical journey, both personally and professionally, and she endeavours to pass on what she has learned as she becomes a mentor herself.

Two years ago, she was diagnosed with ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This diagnosis has been revelatory. As she discovers the myriad ways in which her brain is unique, it has opened her eyes to the multiplicity of perspectives that each individual has to offer her team/family/community.

“If we can truly empower others to lead with their strengths, I have no doubt that we will build more inclusive communities for all,” she said.

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