Swan Song: 30 Years of Music

After hundreds of performances over three decades, from orchestral concerts and Senior School musicals to Remembrance Day services, Ms. Donna Williams led her final show this week. She retires at the end of the school year after 30 years at SMUS.

In the late morning sun on Wednesday, Donna joined the Grade 11 and 12 string musicians on the grass in front of the Schaffter Hall music building for a beautiful performance after a year without concerts.

“This has been a very weird final year where I’m teaching an orchestral strings program without being able to have an orchestra because of the pandemic. So I feel like my real final concert was Large Ensembles in January 2020,” Donna says. “Our musicians have missed out on a lot this year, and they have been so gracious about the whole thing. They’re a really good group and this performance is more for them to be able to share their talents because that’s what music is; music isn’t music unless there’s somebody receiving it.”

Donna’s first year of teaching strings at SMUS was in September 1991. She became Head of Music in 2000, and has since helped support and lead the growth of the music program at our school.

“The music program we have here is truly something special. It’s increasingly rare to have a program of this rigour kept in the timetable and considered an academic course,” Donna says. “I am so proud of the work and leadership that helped build it to what it is today, and I hope it continues to be seen as something precious.”

Keep an eye on the SMUSpaper in the coming months for an in-depth feature on Donna’s time at SMUS, alongside stories of all of the 2020-21 SMUS retirees.

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