In 2011, under the leadership of Gerald Fagan, a choral conductor based in London, a summer festival presented its first season in Exeter and southern Huron County. Bach Music Festival of Canada, with an emphasis on choral repertoire, continued for three more summers in 2013, 2015 and 2017, after which Mr. Fagan’s failing health led him, along with some of its original Directors, to bid the Bach Festival farewell.
The remaining Directors still believed strongly in the value of a festival for their under-serviced region. They sought a refreshed mandate, new colleagues with skills necessary to build an effective Board, and then a new artistic leader. From this process came a determination to continue the Festival with a bold and wider vision. Huron Waves Music Festival, as the second-generation came to be named, reflected a continuing determination by local citizens to bring quality professional music to their communities in Southwestern Ontario.
After designing its name from the waves of Lake Huron, the waves of the winds over the crops in the counties’ abundant fields and the air waves by which music travels, Huron Waves set four goals:
- to be a Spring rather than a Summer festival;
- to bring major Canadian and international talent from a variety of genres to the region;
- to be wider in its geographic setting than in just one community as it was in the past three seasons;
- and through distinctive presentations, to attract visitors to Huron County with all the benefits tourism offers to the economies of the region, especially in the shoulder season of Springtime.
In 2018, the Board engaged John A. Miller who had recently retired after 18 years as the Founder and Artistic Producer of the successful Stratford Summer Music. For 18 months Miller worked closely with the Board of Directors to set goals, an organizational structure and the artistic programming for a 10-day season in May 2020.
That festival was officially announced on March 10, 2020 but almost immediately suspended as the coronavirus closed the region, the province, the nation. The season was revamped for December, 2020, however that live festival was replaced with a very successful online holiday program that drew about 13,000 viewers. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued into 2021, once again it cancelled the springtime programming and the Festival produced two more on-line videos – one in the spring and one in the winter.
In 2022, Huron Waves successfully presented live concerts and programs in 14 different locales and along the shores of Lake Huron itself. It created a 4th video Music Makes the Season Bright which premiered December 20th, 2022. It can be viewed here on Youtube or on the Festival’s website or social media networks. The video was also shown on five regional cable systems during the 2022 holiday season.