Orchestra Digest: December 15, 2012

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This week: Symphoria in Syracuse, a blow for unions in Michigan, and remembering Ravi Shankar and Galina Vishnevskaya. Here are stories we're following, in the news and on the web....
  • The orchestra formerly known as Symphony Syracuse got a new name yesterday: Symphoria. The Syracuse Post-Standard reports on the much-awaited announcement at a Holiday Pops concert last night, which featured a newly commissioned piece by composer/conductor Sean O'Loughlin, also titled Symphoria. 
  • The Milwaukee Symphony agreed to a contract extension through 2014-15, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, including a reduction of musicians' planned salary raise for the present season. The orchestra's new President and CEO, Mark Niehaus, was previously the orchestra's principal trumpeter and chair of its players' council. 
  • The US labour movement faces a major setback with new legislation passed in Michigan, the New York Times reports. Passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, the new laws limit unions' right to collect dues and require union membership. 
  • Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reports on widening pay disparities at large US corporations - including McDonalds, where the lowest-paid employees ($8.25 / hour) would need over a million hours to earn the salary that former CEO Jim Skinner earned last year ($8.75 million). 
  • A new music director was appointed this week for the Qatar Philharmonic: Han-Na Chang, a highly regarded cello soloist who is also 29, Korean, and a woman. The National, an English-language paper in the Arab Emirates, reports the surprising announcement and interviews Ms. Chang. 
  • Ravi Shankar, the celebrated sitarist who introduced and popularized Indian classical music in the West, passed away this week at 92, the New York Times reports. Shankar was a long-term friend, collaborator, and influence on musicians including George Harrison, John Coltrane, Yehudi Menuhin, and Philip Glass. 
  • Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, whose voice inspired works by Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten, passed away this week at age 86, NPR reports. Her husband for over 50 years, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, died in 2007. 
Compiled by Matt Heller, OCSM President. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA, as well as NPR's Deceptive Cadence blog. 


  • Orchestra Digest: Influencers edition


    Influencers in the headlines
    The Toronto Symphony named Matthew Loden its new CEO, the Toronto Star reports. Loden currently serves as interim co-president of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Loden will take over from interim CEO Gary Hansen this July. 
    The Philadelphia Orchestra named Matías Tarnopolsky its new President and CEO in March, the NY Times reported; he currently leads Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley. 
    The TSO also announced that Simon Rivard, currently the conductor-in-residence for the Thunder Bay Symphony, will take over as their resident conductor next season. CBC reports on the move and a conductor on the rise. 
    Composer, violist, and teacher Quentin Doolittle has died at age 90, the Calgary Herald reports. Doolittle composed more than 60 works, including 4 operas; served as principal violist of the Calgary Philharmonic; founded New Works Calgary; and he was among the University of Calgary's first arts faculty. 
    Elizabeth "Betty" Webster, Orchestra Canada's founding executive officer, has died at age 93, the Hamilton Spectator reports. Webster also directed the Hamilton Philharmonic from 1967 to 1975, and was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1992. Orchestras Canada gives an annual award in her name for contributions to orchestral community. 
    Irwin Hoffman, a past music director of the Vancouver Symphony (1952-1964) and founder of the Florida Orchestra, has died at age 93, Slipped Disc reports
    National Ballet Orchestra of Canada principal percussionist Kristofer Maddigan was nominated for a Juno for best instrumental album, CTV News reports. Maddigan's composed the soundtrack to an indie video game, Cupheads.
    Winners at the 2018 Juno Awards included Jan Lisiecki (Classical album of the year: Large ensemble); Barbara Hannigan (Classical album of the year: vocal or choral); and Jocelyn Morlock (Classical composition of the year). 
    Conductor Noel Edison resigned as artistic director of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, after an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, the Toronto Star reports. Edison had been nominated for a Grammy earlier this year for a recording with the TMC and TSO. 
    The Globe and Mail profiled violinist Benjamin Bowman, the Metropolitan Opera's newly appointed concertmaster. Bowman previously served as associate concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra for ten seasons. (Paywall)
    Financial column
    Quebec's three major orchestra will receive supplemental grants from the province, to be disbursed in supplements over five years, the Montreal Gazette reports. The total amounts of the grants are significant: $7.5m to the Montreal Symphony, $3m to the Quebec Symphony, and $2.5 million to Orchestre MétropolitainLudwig van Montreal also reported on the OM grant (in French), while Slipped Disc noted that OSM receives the most government funding of any North American orchestra. 
    The San Antonio Symphony's season seemed poised to end on January 5th, as the board considered bankruptcy -- only to pull back from the brink, with the help of several key grants. Texas Public Radio reports on a crisis averted at the last possible moment. 
    Eight of Calgary's "cornerstone" arts organizations, including the Calgary Philharmonic, are advocating for increases in municipal arts grants, which have been frozen for eight years, according to a report in the Calgary Herald. The organizations proposed a "sustainability framework" to a city council committee last week. 
    The province of Alberta has set aside $13m to fund an expansion project for Edmonton's Winspear CentreCBC reports. The $53m project is roughly 50% funded, with completion targeted for 2022. 
    A new report released by the U.K. Musicians' Union highlights the financial difficulties even full-time orchestral musicians are facing: salaries averaging 21k pounds (approx. $28,500 USD) coupled with high instrument costs and student loans. The findings were reported by New England Public Radio; the Musicians' Union is launching an awareness campaign
    New seasons, collaborations, and reckonings
    A drag queen, a Star Wars star, and local heroes will headline Symphony Nova Scotia Pops concerts next season, The Signal Halifax reports
    The Hamilton Philharmonic's 2018/19 season, the Spectator reports, opens with Gemma New's favourite symphony (Brahms 1st), features a Bach Festival with Ivars Taurins, and closes with Mahler's 5th. 
    For 2018/19, the Calgary Philharmonic welcomes Renee Fleming and Measha Brueggergosman as guests, and features an Under the Influence Festival, the Calgary Herald reports.
    The Montreal Symphony's new season pays homage to some of the OSM's most iconic recordings, the Montreal Gazette reports, with programs featuring Berlioz, Dukas, Ravel, and Debussy.
    The Thunder Bay Symphony hosted its first Indigenous concert last month, CBC News reported, spearheaded by musician/board member Shy-Anne Hovorka. 
    Few orchestras, if any, touch their cities as deeply as the Baltimore Symphony, the NY Times reports: the BSO's OrchKids program now reaches over 1,300 students in 6 schools. The Times profiles some of those students with an extended photo essay. 
    As #MeToo reckonings have touched classical music organizations in Toronto and elsewhere, Toronto Star critic John Terauds argues that classical music has enabled bad behaviour by prominent male artists, and asserts that we need to change such patterns. Globe and Mail critic Marsha Lederman surveys the reckoning in Toronto's arts scene more broadly, considering how structural power dynamics play a part. 
    Notice a correction, or an orchestra news story I missed? Please email me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or post to the list yourself! (Remember to include your name and orchestra in your post.) Thank you! - Matt Heller

    Compiled by Matt Heller, with editorial assistance from Francine Schutzman and Robert Fraser. (Errors are Matt's!) Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM online at: http://ocsm-omosc.org/index.php. Visit OCSM on Facebook, or tweet us @ocsm-omosc.
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