Donnie Deacon, Music Director
Donnie Deacon has traversed the terrain of both performance as a violinist in national and international contexts, and the life of a conductor and director in recent years.
Deacon has been the Artistic Director of the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra since 2013. He has worked with soloists such as Yosuke Kawasaki, Joanna G’Froerer, Jethro Marks, Yehonatan Berrick, Julie Nesrallah, Michelle Gott, David Jalbert, Joel Quarrington and many others.
On April 30, 2017, John Gomez announced his retirement as Music Director of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra and named Deacon as his successor.
Born in Glasgow, he began his violin studies with Robert Cairns, followed by Jerre Gibson at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Mr Deacon continued his studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School in London under the tutelage of Natasha Boyarskaya and Lord Menuhin.
He then attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he continued under Jaime Laredo and Ida Kavafian. Following his studies at Curtis, Deacon was appointed Principal Second Violin of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), the youngest person to have ever held this position (at the age of 21), and a chair he held from 2001-2016, when he retired due to a medical injury.
Deacon has performed as soloist all over the world with orchestras such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, BT Scottish Ensemble, London Soloists, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, Pablo de Sarasate Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Curtis Institute of Music. He has been guest Concertmaster of both the Vancouver Symphony and The National Arts Centre Orchestra, among other ensembles. As an advocate for Canadian music, Deacon has given the world premiere of Gary Kulesha's 2nd violin concerto and William Rowson's violin concerto.
Following his work with the NAC orchestra as a musician, he assumed the position as Resident Artist in the Community. In that position, he facilitated and produced a number of significant and meaningful outreach activities during the 2016-17 season. As a member of the Music Education team, his goal was to strengthen the NAC Orchestra’s ties to our local community. Some of his initiatives included programming NAC Orchestra events for Culture Days at the Isabel Bader Centre in Kingston including a choral tribute to the Tragically Hip and a “Rusty Orchestra” rehearsal led by Music Director Alexander Shelley (the orchestra consisted of members of Orchestra Kingston, as well as members of both the NAC Orchestra and the Kingston Symphony). Deacon also organized the first-ever NAC Orchestra/Ottawa Youth Orchestra side-by-side concert which featured over 140 musicians on the newly-renovated Southam Hall stage on November 9, 2016. In March 2017, he coordinated the NAC Orchestra’s week of Community Outreach which included three major events.
The first was a side-by-side concert with the strings of the NAC Orchestra, Canterbury High School, and École secondaire publique De La Salle conducted by Alexander Shelley. This marked the first joint collaboration in the history of all three orchestras. As well, he spearheaded the NAC Orchestra’s Remix: Encounters in Ottawa’s West End project in which Alexander Shelley and four school band programs from the west end of Ottawa performed in a side-by-side concert with 20 wind, brass and percussion musicians from the NAC Orchestra at Woodroffe High School. The third event was to assemble a massed concert band of 1,300 high school students from 25 local schools conducted by Alexander Shelley at the Aberdeen Pavilion on March 24 - This event was one of 17 “epic” events organized by Ottawa 2017 (and co-produced with the NAC) as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. Additionally, he co-organized 150+ education events for NACO’s Canada 150 Tour to the Western provinces (Oct-Nov 2017) including residencies, masterclasses, workshops, and side-by-side performances.