Sharing the gift of music

About Us

At High River Gift of Music, our purpose is in our name.

According to the dictionary, the term gift means a present that is willingly given to another to show affection. Alternately, it can mean a skill or aptitude.

The Greek root of the word music is mousike, meaning the art of the Muses, those graceful goddesses of art, poetry, music and dance.

As our name suggests we exist to present our audience with an extraordinary gift – the musical talent of our artists.


About the Society

The High River Gift of Music Society is a non-profit organization that brought excellence in music to the community of High River since 2009. Our aim is to open the doors to the world of music through education, outreach activities and of course, incredible musical performance.

While our focus is primarily on classical music, you will find a wide range of instrumentalists and vocalists appearing on the High River stage. From the ancient Chinese pipa to the grand piano, from marimba to guitar to opera and ensemble choirs, we appreciate and support diversity and love to surprise our audience. 

Outside of the concert hall, we support our community by extending the gift of music in other ways. We seek out artists who are both communicative and talented, able to provide insight into how great music is inspired, composed and played. Each season is capped with our Young Artists Extraordinaire event, welcoming talented local musicians as they embark on their musical careers with the support of our generous audience members.

Music education sessions give students an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by some of the world’s finest musicians. These interactions provide a very direct connection with the artist, the instrument and the music. As experiencing world-class music firsthand is the finest way to appreciate it, our commitment to music education includes offering subsidized concert ticket prices for those under the age of 18.

We also share the gift of music through our outreach activities, bringing our artists directly to audiences in senior’s homes and private concerts. 

No matter what the setting, our concerts celebrate music and community. The combination of an enthusiastic audience, generous volunteers, and musicians who communicate their music with passion makes for an unforgettable experience. This is music that inspires, bridging cultures and eras to bring people together.

Please join us.


Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to imagination and life to everything.

– Plato

Since January 2013, I must have attended at least 50 concerts of classical music in North America and Europe. One of the best happened to be in High River, of all places.”

Sudhir Jain

Letter to the Editor, Calgary Herald

Our History

In 2009, the Rotary Club hosted a young student from Germany on an exchange. In thanks, Viola and her father, conductor Thomas Kalb, arranged for a visit from the Heidelberg Youth Chamber Orchestra. The response was overwhelming, the concert hall packed. As word about the excellence of the performance spread, community members recognized that there was a hunger for live classical music in High River. Local organizations including the Lion’s Club, Rotary Club, the High River United Church and individual donors came together to create and support the High River Gift of Music Society.

When the United Church launched its vision for a new facility, it was clear that music and arts programming would factor significantly into the architectural design.  As a result, the Gift of Music can access a high-quality venue for world-class musicians in the church sanctuary.

This space allows a special intimacy between the artists and the audience.  For the listeners, the sound is beautiful and natural – a real joy.  For the musicians, it is a wonderful performance space which supports the qualities of both the human voice and the natural elements of acoustic instruments.  Thanks to the generous support of our local Lions Club and in partnership with a number of donors, we are especially grateful to be able to provide a stunning Yamaha C-7 concert grand piano.

Our vision of providing access to quality arts and music programming for the broader community has been realized.

Our Location

The location where the High River United Church now stands is deeply connected to the traditions of the First Nations people. When the Blackfoot people came across the prairies each year following the buffalo, they would look for the line of cottonwood trees which marked the area where the river could be easily forded. It is an ancient spot for gathering and healing, the place of the Medicine Tree.

According to Irene Alvine Mountain Horse, a respected educator from Kainai, and Irene Kerr, director with the Museum of the Highwood, the name of High River is derived from the Blackfoot term Aapattohsspitsii or Ispitsayay, which means “tall trees along the river.” The anglicized version of this name is Spitzee.

The Gift of Music Society acknowledges that our concerts and events take place on the territory of the peoples of the Treaty 7 Region, in Southern Alberta. We recognize the Treaty 7 Nations who make their home on this land, including the Siksika and other nations. This land is also home to the Metis Nation of Alberta Region 3.

“Not only does [High River Gift of Music] offer audiences a fantastic variety of classical music from aspiring young musicians to accomplished professionals, it provides a variety of wonderful educational components for the youth in our community.”

Cathy Couey

Councillor, Town of High River

Our People

    Message from the Artistic Director

    Dear Friends,

    We invite you to experience the power, the joy, the Gift of Music in the beautiful Foothills community of High River, Alberta. Our musicians and audiences tell us there is something very special about the Gift of Music. There is a direct and intimate connection with the musicians – one that brings out the magic in music.

    Our passion is music and community, and this music would not happen without you. You are the heart of the Gift of Music. Please join us as we celebrate excellence in classical music and community.


    Michèle Wheatley-Brown
    Founding Artistic Director, High River Gift of Music Society

      High River Gift of Music
      Society Board

      Barb Haney | President
      Debbie-Layne MacLeod | Director
      Janet Klie | Director
      Kaly Court | Director
      Fay Mascher | Secretary
      Hendrik Greidanus | Director

      Michèle Wheatley-Brown | Artistic Director
      Leslie Lyne | Executive Director


      Come on board

      Do you love the gift of music as much as we do? Want to help us make a difference to High River’s cultural life? If you have an interest in supporting us and ideas to offer, we invite you to apply to join our Society board. Download and fill out the application form, then email or snail-mail a copy to us.