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Canadian Conductor Rosemary Thomson Joins PAMDA as a Special Advisor

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

The Penticton Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts (PAMDA) has enlisted the support of a national musical leader to help deliver music education to the community during the restrictions imposed by the current health crisis and into the future.

“I am extremely excited to join PAMDA as an advisor during this phase of creativity and adaptation,” says Rosemary Thomson. “Running a non-profit music school at the best of times can be challenging. During the current pandemic, though, it’s a struggle trying to connect through music while still staying safely apart.”

Thomson, in her 14th season as Music Director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, is a respected conductor and champion of music education. Under her leadership, the orchestra blossomed and its audiences reached unprecedented levels. She also led the OSO in creating multiple outreach and education programs throughout the valley.

Thomson has also recently stepped into the role of Interim Artistic Director of Opera Kelowna with plans to expand their community programming. “I believe that musical experiences are the foundation for important personal and social development,” says Thomson. “Skills and values such as listening, compassion, and cooperation that are developed through musical exposure are gifts that will remain for life.”

But the current environment is making it difficult for members of our community to have access to music lessons, says Prema Harris, President of the Penticton Academy of Music Society, which runs PAMDA.

“Lessons at PAMDA have changed dramatically this year,” says Harris. “Gone are the days of Pop-Up Choir and belting out songs shoulder to shoulder or sharing music stands in orchestra rehearsal. Instead, PAMDA students and faculty are following new protocols to bring music back while keeping the health risks low.”

“Rosemary will bring valuable insight as a musician and an educator,” says Harris. “Teaching safely with creativity and engagement is essential for PAMDA to thrive in this very unsettled time. With Rosemary’s guidance, we can better focus on our programming to identify gaps and develop creative solutions.”


For more than 25 years, PAMDA has provided residents of Penticton and surrounding communities with a facility that serves as a central hub of musical activity.

Based out of historic Leir House, PAMDA delivers quality instruction in an inspiring environment, with teaching studios, large classrooms, a lounge for performances, and the surrounding park-like grounds.

“We truly want to bring music to everyone,” says Harris. We imagine all the people who want to learn music, but can’t because of their busy schedules, their inability to get to lessons, or their lack of an instrument. We need to continuously strengthen the programs we have in place that are aimed to address these barriers, like our bursary and instrument loan programs. And now we need to look at how we can overcome new barriers posed by the pandemic.”

Want to help?

“The Penticton Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts was formed to ensure that high quality music education is accessible to everyone in our community,” says Harris. “We know that playing music can reduce stress, motivate us, and help us grow. Here, we’re also teaching teamwork, creative thinking, and empathy. In more than 25 years, we’ve helped thousands access the life-changing magic of music. We’d love support to continue the great work we’re doing. To donate to our bursary program or register for lessons, please visit our website at”

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