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Music Director

Claude Lapalme

Since his appointment as Music Director of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra in 1990, Claude Lapalme has made his mark as a superb conductor, an exceptional arranger and an outstanding Music Director.  As a conductor, Paris newspaper Le Figaro has called him “remarkable and superb”; the Toronto Globe & Mail, “assured and highly effective”; the Havana Granma, “surprisingly dexterous, warm and sincere”; the Edmonton Journal, “a breath of fresh air”; and the Calgary Herald, “vigorous and attentive to detail.” A 1991 Laureate of the Besançon International Conducting Competition, he has conducted orchestras around the world, including the Moscow Radio and Television Orchestra as well as numerous ensembles in Hungary, the United States, Cuba, France and the Netherlands. 


His Canadian credits include the Edmonton Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Winnipeg Symphony, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Laval, the Hamilton Philharmonic and numerous others.  His own Red Deer Symphony has been featured on several CBC broadcasts, and has collaborated with, among others, Alberta Ballet, Edmonton’s Pro Coro, Calgary’s Early Music Voices and Calgary’s Festival Chorus.  The orchestra has also toured the province of Alberta as far north as Fort McMurray.

Mr. Lapalme has become an eminent orchestrator and arranger, having composed orchestra charts for the likes of Ian Tyson and Marvin Hamlisch.  His arrangements, noted for the precision of their composition as well as their expressive lushness, have been performed by top Canadian, American and Australian orchestras where they have been called “gorgeous” and “spine-chilling.”  His orchestral arrangement of Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds, an exclusive composition for the Edmonton Symphony, was premiered to a standing ovation by an audience of over five thousand people.  He also wrote five exclusive arrangements of Canadian popular songs for the Edmonton Symphony’s “Great Canadian Songbook” project.

Claude Lapalme has been an instructor at both the Universities of Toronto and Calgary, and has also been a frequent clinician with various youth groups such as the Calgary Youth Orchestra.  He has participated in the Quebec Youth Orchestra Festival, and is an adjudicator at various music festivals in Canada, as well as the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival – as recently as the spring of 2016.  He is the founder of Choir Kids, a unique program that has elementary school choirs perform with the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

Maestro Lapalme is a world champion Morris Dancer, the inventor of a better ping-pong paddle, keeps a journal in medieval Estonian, and talks like a pirate every Sunday.  Just kidding and checking in to see who reads this.  Please call our office to arrange your free high five or hug!


For his achievements, Claude Lapalme has received recognition awards from both the City of Red Deer and the Government of Alberta.  He resides in Red Deer with his ever beautiful wife, cellist Janet Kuschak.


First Violin
Naomi Delafield, Concertmaster
Diane Lane, Assistant Concertmaster 
Eva Muranyi, Associate Concertmaster
Carmen Ashmead
Sylvia Chow

Alison Zdunich (on leave)
Second Violin
Louise Stuppard, Principal 
Elisa Milner, Assistant Principal

Dean O’Brien, Principal
Ronelle Schaufele, Assistant Principal
Ben Neumann

Janet Kuschak, Principal
Nigel Boehm, Assistant Principal
Magdi Szebenyi

Double Bass
Graeme Mudd, Principal
Lucie Jones, Principal
Melody McKnight, Principal
Kira Palmer (and English Horn)
Ilana Dahl, Principal

Matthew Howatt, Principal
Matthew Nickel

Principal (vacant)
Doug Umana
Richard Scholz, Principal
Samantha Whelan
Nikki McCaslin
Mar James

The RDSO regularly uses the following extra musicians:
Violin:  Fiona Carnie, James Desautels, Aranka Nagy, Laura Reid, Karri Quan
Viola:  Heather Heron-Mykyte, Liza Lowry, John Thompson
Cello: Olena Kilchyk, Anne Scott
Bass: Yukari Sasada, Sheila Garrett
Oboe:  Beth Levia
Bassoon:  Jonathan Gresl
Horn:  Katie Baker, David Caswell
Trumpet:  Gareth Jones, Karen Gustafson
Trombone:  Mark Harding, Paul Toutant, Greg Robertson
Tuba:  Neil James                                 
Percussion:  Malcolm Lim, Rob Maciak, Brent Van Dusen
Harp:  Gianetta Baril

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