Why she’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40: She’s driven by a passion for community-building.
After living in six cities across North America, Alyssa Paterson has found a home in Edmonton. She moved here nine years ago, on New Year’s Eve, which felt like a new beginning in a community where she already had roots. Paterson has since become a pillar of Edmonton’s arts and culture scene, as well as an advocate for holistic, arts-based education.
As general manager of the Winspear Centre, Paterson has launched programs such as Wee Ones at the Winspear and Sound School, expanding the venue’s participatory programming to reach almost 2,000 people of all ages and backgrounds per year. She’s also part of the design team for the Winspear’s upcoming expansion, which will make room for more accessible in-house music programming, as well as a new performance venue.
Paterson is particularly proud to have founded the Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta, an after-school program that brings music training to those with fewer opportunities. This year, YONA will reach 115 kids in Edmonton, as well as 50 students at Alexander First Nation, who will learn violin alongside traditional music practice.
Both Paterson’s parents are vocalists and play a number of instruments, from guitar to clarinet. A singer and piano player herself, Paterson counts herself lucky to have grown up in a musical family, where she first discovered the profound sense of belonging that engagement with music can provide. Her mission is to extend that feeling to others.
“To me, music is community,” explains Paterson. “That’s what I felt as a little kid, and that’s what I work for now.”