Timothy Vernon’s unique vision has engaged the community and made Pacific Opera Victoria (POV) a nationally recognized symbol of artistic excellence. As founding artistic director, Vernon has led most of POV’s more than 100 productions since the company’s inception in 1980.
Vernon grew up in Victoria. He studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller at the Victoria School (now Conservatory) of Music, before pursuing further studies in Europe, graduating with distinction from the Vienna Academy of Music (now University for Music). Vernon returned to Canada in 1975, subsequently accepting posts as conductor and music director of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Canadian Opera Company’s touring company, professor at McGill University, music director of the McGill Symphony Orchestra and associate director of Opera McGill.
He has conducted for opera companies and orchestras in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Windsor, London, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, Montreal, Quebec and Halifax. Of special note was his 2000 televised performance with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, conducting Ben Heppner and Pinchas Zukerman in a gala concert.
Vernon is also Conductor Laureate of Orchestra London in Ontario. As artistic head of both Orchestra London and Pacific Opera Victoria, he fostered a partnership that resulted in a successful co-production of Puccini’s Tosca in 2005 – London’s first fully-staged professional opera. The two organizations subsequently joined forces again with co-productions of Rigoletto (2006), Don Giovanni (2007), Madama Butterfly (2008) and The Magic Flute (2009).
As a result of Vernon's vision and commitment to emerging Canadian artists, POV has offered first professional engagements for emerging singers and showcased some of Canada’s finest opera singers. Many directors made their main stage Canadian operatic debuts with POV, and the company continues to provide opportunities for directors, designers, singers and production artists.
Always supportive of young musicians, Vernon served as artistic director of the Courtenay Youth Music Centre for seven of the 15 years he was on faculty with the program. Students from around the world came to B.C. to study with an international faculty, and to perform in orchestra, chamber music, opera, music theatre and jazz.
In February 2008, Vernon was presented with the Order of Canada in recognition of his work in expanding professional opera in Canada and his commitment to young musicians. Vernon is also a recipient of Opera Canada’s 2005 Ruby Award as Opera Builder and a 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.