Douglas Dahlgren (1935-2020)

The Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra would like to acknowledge the passing of one of our founders and former members – Douglas Dahlgren.

The story goes … in 1960, two musicians, travelling through the Lakehead, stopped in Saul Laskin’s furniture store. One of them, Doug Dahlgren, sat at a piano and began to play. Laskin, mayor of Port Arthur, convinced them that they should stay and follow their collective dream of establishing a local symphony orchestra. The Lakehead Symphony Orchestra was the result.

Doug worked with the newly founded orchestra as an MIR (Musician in Residence) from 1960 until 1976 when he moved to Montreal. During those years he would have worked with conductors Rene Charrier (1960), C.H. Bateman (1964), Boris Brott (1967) and Manuel Suarez (1972) … and would have seen the amalgamation of Port Arthur and Fort William into one city – and thus a new name for the orchestra: Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.

One story from this time is about the symphony grand piano which was used by Doug for teaching. In order to get the piano to a concert venue, they had to transport it from his 2nd floor apartment, out the front window – it must have been quite the sight!

It has been amazing to hear and read the stories and fond remembrances of Doug Dahlgren’s students, colleagues and friends in Thunder Bay. He was an ambassador for music. Many have commented that as a performer and teacher he opened up a world of classical music that was new to them.

As the TBSO enters its 60th anniversary season, it is sad that we are offering condolences to the family of Douglas Dahlgren instead of congratulations to Doug himself, but you can be sure that those of us associated with the TBSO will always remember and be grateful for the important role he played in founding the orchestra and sharing his musical talent with the community.

For more information and Douglas Dahlgren’s obituary, please go to:

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