Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Announces Vice President – Production and Operations

Christopher Sprague, who studied technical theatre at Dalhousie from 1983 to ’85, is now Vice President Production and Operations for Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Here, he reflects on his career and the experiences that helped pave the way.

Chris barely managed to squeak past Dal admissions with the help of the faculty of the theatre department. The reason they knew of him prior to applying was that he attended four Nova Scotia High School Drama Festivals. He was encouraged before he even got to Dal – they saw some potential and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Looking back, the gear wasn’t very good, things didn’t work but we didn’t know any better. What it did was teach us how to fix things, how to get the most out of things, how to be resourceful. How to be a better technician,” he recalls.

Chris started his professional career in Halifax at Neptune Theatre as Head of Sound, quickly switching over to Lighting, Lighting Design and Technical Direction at Neptune North and Touring Productions. After several national tours Chris settled in Calgary working at Alberta Theatre Projects in positions ranging from Head of Lighting to Technical Director. He was also able to start integrating motion picture (lighting) into his toolbox. His theatre tricks that he introduced to film propelled him even further. Chris went on to work on Academy, Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning motion pictures and television shows.

In the later years, Chris went back into the live world working with ballet, opera and other large live events including the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show, which was watched by 26,000 people nightly for ten days every year.

Chris had a short stop in the corporate world at the world-class Vancouver Convention Centre managing a group of fast-paced technicians executing trade shows and conventions.

Chris was then privileged to be selected as the first Vice President Production and Operations for the 102-year-old Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO). The VSO is the largest arts organization west of Toronto with a $16-million annual operating budget.

“Over the years the performing arts was the thrill I got. It was live, no stopping, no second chance. I am happy to have settled in with the VSO and give back my knowledge that started all that time ago at the Dalhousie Theatre Department. Those professors and instructors played a big part of who I am today.”