By Gordon Lambie
After more than 20 years as the head conductor and artistic director of Sherbrooke’s symphony orchestra, the OSS, Stéphane Laforest has announced that he is leaving the position, effective immediately and will not be returning to conduct the last four performances of the current season. The conductor gave notice on Jan. 2 after having conducted more than 180 concerts with the symphony in the region.
Speaking with The Record on Tuesday morning, Laforest attributed the decision to a number of different factors, with a particular focus on his own health and a changing relationship with the orchestra’s board of directors.
“It has been on my mind for about one and a half to two years,” the former conductor said, sharing that although he has always worked a lot, he hit something of a wall in the last year when he had what seemed like it might be a heart attack.
“I was scared, so I went to the hospital, but it turned out to be a panic attack.”
Since that initial event, however, the attacks have come back on a regular basis.
“I am now taking pills to help, but I need more than pills to solve the problem,” he said, explaining that one half of the decision to step away from his work with the orchestra came from an effort to reduce stress in his daily life.
The other part of the decision lies in what Laforest described as a kind of growing apart with the organization.
“24 years is a very long period for anyone,” he reflected.
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