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Colourful resume prepped Wing for new role at Symphony

Published on

Cathy Dobson  

Anthony Wing’s sun-swept office comes with a burgundy settee that looks comfortable, but he knows he’ll never use it.

“It was left here by (former executive director) Anne Brown and she warned me I’ll never have time to crash,” he said with a laugh.

“It’s true. This is a very consuming job.”

Wing assumed Brown’s role at the International Symphony Orchestra (ISO) in October, although she is continuing to mentor him this season.

“Anne ran the ISO very successfully for three decades,” said Wing. “I’m inheriting a symphony with musicianship that is unusually high for a small community. And one that Anne has operated 10 to 15 years in the black.”

As the new ISO executive director, Wing said he’s on a learning curve and is grateful Brown will help him see the season through.

He’s never had an ED-type job before but says his colourful resume has prepared him to be an administrator, one who knows about creativity, working with people and deeply appreciating music and musicians.

Wing grew up in Sarnia and studied piano. His siblings include comedian and poet John Wing Jr., soprano Alexa Wing, playwright Paula Wing and teacher Richard Wing.

He studied music at McGill, then political science at Western University. In the 1990s, Wing worked as a speechwriter for three Ontario premiers.

He’s never stopped pursuing music, performing in bands that ranged from metal to jazz and learning to play almost any instrument, except the strings.

“Everything I’ve done has been a life support system for music,” he said.

In Calgary, he became a champion oyster shucker and was busy with that when his father John, a prominent Sarnia lawyer, became ill.

Wing returned to his hometown in 2016 to help care for his dad, who passed away in 2017.

That’s when Wing launched his own business, Shuck the World.

He was busy with shucking and playing out regularly with buddy Bil Eldridge and bands for local theatre when he decided to do a show of his own.

He first met Anne Brown when he approached her about performing a piano concerto. The result was Wing became a candidate to replace Brown on her retirement and was ultimately hired.

The ISO is in its 61st year and the only international symphony in Canada. It draws about half its 60 musicians from Port Huron and half from Sarnia.

Twice a year, 50 or so choral singers collaborate with the symphony.

Once this season ends, one of Wing’s first duties will be to find a new location for the ISO offices, currently located at 251 Vidal St. North. The building has been sold and the lease will end, he said.

“We are looking for a new home and would prefer to be downtown.

“I think the symphony needs to converge with all the other cultural agencies in Sarnia, working in tandem. I think the best way to do that is to be downtown, have a storefront and get involved with First Friday.”

He also wants to reach out to more youth and entice the next generation with the symphony.

“We did a concert at McMorran (in Port Huron) with about 900 fifth graders,” Wing said. “The ISO partners with American school boards and I would like to do the same with the Lambton Kent board.”

Already, he has expanded the ISO’s reach through social media by establishing Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“Symphonies across North American are going under because they are depending on an aging demographic,” Wing said.

“So, I think good management is about youth initiatives and getting families involved.”

The Arts Journal is about all things cultural in our community. Send your ideas to [email protected].


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