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Ready to climb the ‘next mountain’

[Tricia Baldwin]
Tricia Baldwin arrives as the director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts after serving as the managing director of Tafelmusik, Canada’s leading baroque orchestra, for nearly 15 years. (University Communications)

Well before she formally stepped into her role as director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in December, Tricia Baldwin was already plotting its future.

Although she was then still wholly employed in Toronto as the managing director of Tafelmusik, Canada’s leading baroque orchestra – a role she held for nearly 15 years – Ms. Baldwin was spending her evenings, weekends and holidays readying herself for her new job at Queen’s.

While Ms. Baldwin admits that straddling both positions was a challenge, the arrangement seemed fitting for a woman so naturally drawn to hard work that when she first heard about the job at the Isabel, she had one thought: “that’s the next mountain to climb.” 

First drawn to the arts through music, Ms. Baldwin sensed that a career as a musician simply wasn’t in the cards. After earning a degree in music from the University of Toronto, she decided to pursue an MBA at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

“My world completely opened up,” she says of the experience. “I was thrown into all kinds of new areas with students from many different disciplines. It was fantastic.”

Ms. Baldwin immediately put her newly honed business skills to work, first wending her way to Kingston in the 1990s to serve as the General Manager of the Kingston Symphony. She landed at Tafelmusik in 2000 and promptly got to work in a role that saw her managing the company’s national and international tours, helping to significantly grow its revenue, expanding its training programs, overseeing a multimillion dollar renovation project and spearheading Tafelmusik Media, the company’s own recording label, among many other accomplishments.

But as much as she had enjoyed her tenure with the world-renowned company, Ms. Baldwin says she knew she was ready for her next challenge.

“My favourite part of this job is putting new things in place,” she says. “I particularly love the interdisciplinary projects, and the fact that you never know what you will be doing next. I’ve always been thrilled with coming in at the ground floor.  At the Isabel, we have music, drama, film and visual art all under one roof, and this makes the future of interdisciplinary work very exciting here at Queen’s.  I believe that some of the greatest creativity in the 21st century will be that between disciplines.”

While she won’t be able to formally announce the Isabel’s 2015-2016 season until April, Ms. Baldwin is palpably excited about what she has in store, from a “global salon” series, to performances from past winners of internationally renowned music competitions. She is also focused on ensuring her genre-straddling programming includes a diverse range of artists from right across the country, and an investment in the creation of new works and programmes. 

“We need to represent the arts beyond the Western traditions, and to encourage a broader international experience for the students and audiences at large.”

Passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, Ms. Baldwin has already secured agreements with the Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Honens Piano Competition to welcome their winning artists to Kingston.

She is also focused on nurturing talent within the Queen’s community: “our next step is to foster the next generation of arts leaders, and we are all putting much thought into how to manifest this vision.”

Ms. Baldwin is not only thrilled with her new role, but also with the many exciting possibilities she knows lie ahead for the Isabel.

“I love the quality of life in Kingston, working with artists from around the world and the  camaraderie and intellectual rigor of being at Queen’s University,” she says with a smile. “I’m in my happy place.”