The Leaders Corner - Leila Getz, Vancouver Recital Society

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Jan 19, 2015 | Blog

Leila is an ebullient and engaging personality, honest and direct. We had an enjoyable lunch where I learned about her childhood and the seeds of her entrepreneurial spirit. 

She grew up in Capetown, South Africa where, in the 1950’s, her aunt and mother founded the well-known Maynardville Park Open Air Theatre. Leila inherited their can-do attitude, sheer resilience, and marketing flair.  

Leila assumes every challenge can be overcome and she draws on her energy and stubborn nature to achieve it. She knows when something must be done, and goes ahead and does it regardless if she has done it before. Post 2009 was a very difficult time for many arts organizations, and she is proud of her organization’s ability to overcome some real financial difficulties and continue to thrive. 

As a founder of a not-for-profit, Leila is a true entrepreneur: passionately motivated for her organization to succeed, while bringing young musicians to the attention of new audiences to enjoy the shared experience of listening to great music.

Leader: Leila Getz, Founder & Artistic Director
Organization: Vancouver Recital Society
Tenure: 30+ years 

If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?

Do I really have to pick only one! After three days of thinking about it I can’t decide between Nelson Mandela and J.S. Bach!!

What is your greatest fear?


What trait do you most admire in yourself?

Unbounded enthusiasm for things that excite me. After discovering young musical talents for over 35 years, I still get as excited as I did at the very beginning.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Oh, this is the only EASY question. In 1982 I had to walk out on stage ahead of a performance to make an announcement and halfway across the stage I tripped and fell flat on my face. You can just imagine the audience reaction! All I could think was “thank God my mother’s not in the audience” as I picked myself up and walked to the front of the stage, my pink knees peeking out from the huge holes in my black stockings. But, I’ll give myself credit for this…I didn’t turn around and run away backstage, I picked up what was left of my self-esteem and made the announcement.

What is your favorite book or piece of music?

J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

What keeps you up at night?

Nothing…except when my dog barks! 

What still surprises you?

Audiences’ ticket purchasing habits. Perhaps habits is not the right word here. I would have thought that after 35 years of trying to sell tickets I might have some wisdom about the subject, but I don’t. I still don’t understand why tickets sell and why they don’t sell.

What is your passion? Where does it come from?

Music and dogs! I come from a family of entrepreneurs and artists. I grew up with the smell of greasepaint and passionate and boisterous people. My parents were terrified that I would also be drawn to the world of theatre, so they encouraged my musical interests. Little did they know how I would end up!! I had an extremely colourful childhood and was fortunate to be surrounded by loving people. 

What are 3 adjectives that people are most likely to use to describe you?

Stubborn. Maverick. Outgoing.

When do you get your best ideas?

Either in the shower, or when I’m stuck in traffic jams. I’m not trying to be funny here, but some of my best and most ridiculous ideas have come to me whilst sitting in a stationary line of cars.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Never to take anything for granted and always to expect the unexpected. That’s what makes life interesting.

Denise Baker headshot


Denise Baker

Denise Baker was the Executive Director of Vantage Point and is passionate about change management and growth, cultivating collaborative environments and developing leadership in others. She has held leadership positions in many industries, including Director of Worldwide Education at Business Objects and Assistant Dean at the Sauder School of Business. Denise has an Honours English Degree and a Master of Library and Information Science from UBC.

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