Orchestra Digest: August 22

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This week: Met Opera reaches a deal, TSO tours Europe, great strides in Pittsburgh and Louisville, and a bass trombonist's remarkable comeback...

Behind the scenes at the opera
Monday's tentative Metropolitan Opera agreement included compromises on both sides, the New York Times reports. Musicians agreed to wage cuts, but management agreed to share those cuts, and to bring on an independent financial analyst to help keep the Met's budget under control.

The Canadian Opera Company has a new senior staff position, Chief Communications Officer, according to a press release posted on Broadway World. Steven Kelley, formerly director of marketing at the Houston Grand Opera, has been hired for the new position.

Canadian news
This weekend the Toronto Symphony is on tour in Europe for the first time since 2000; the Toronto Star offers a numerical account of the tour, which included stops in Amsterdam and Helsinki.

Tri-City News reports on the remarkable recovery of Vancouver Symphony bass trombonist Douglas Sparkes, who suffered a severe stroke in September 2011; he has been back with the VSO since Dec. 2012.

The Saskatoon Symphony is launching its 2014-15 season under the theme "Finding our Prairie Voice", the Star Phoenix reports. The SSO's guest artists are exclusively Canadian, and 14 are Saskatchewan natives.

US orchestras
Oregon Symphony musicians agreed to extend their contract with a pay freeze for one year, The Oregonian reports. The OS administration has a new leader, Scott Showalter, and musicians' union announced they wanted to give him time before negotiating a new contract.
A recent audit of the Pittsburgh Symphony's finances showed an impressive recovery, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports - including a rise in net assets and endowment, and a reduced operating deficit.

And four years after it filed for bankruptcy, the Louisville Orchestra is in the black, the Courier-Journal reports. The orchestra finished with a $20K surplus for 2013-14; new music director Teddy Abrams launches the 2014-15 season on Sept. 6th.


Compiled by Matt Heller, Calgary Philharmonic and OCSM Past President. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM online at: http://ocsm-omosc.org/index.php.


  • Orchestra Digest: New seasons edition

    Deals, festivals, and a Mozart controversy

    The New York Philharmonic reached agreement on a 3-year contract with modest salary increases, the NY Times reports. This was the first negotiation involving new President/CEO Deborah Borda, with new Music Director Jaap van Zweden set to take over in the fall.  

    The Regina Symphony launched its new Forward Currents Festival this month, previewed in the Globe and Mail. Each year the festival will highlight a different social justice issue; this year's festival focused on Truth and Reconciliation, just weeks after the Gerald Stanley verdict in Colten Boushie's death sparked national outrage. 
    The Vancouver Symphony's Spring Festival is underway this weekend, highlighting musical legends including Leonard Bernstein. The Georgia Straight previews the Festival. 
    Symphony Nova Scotia has launched a new prize for women composers, the Maria Anna Mozart Award, and recently performed its first commission: Kelly-Marie Murphy's Dragon. The Chronicle Herald previewed the concert. 
    The current Canadian Opera Company production of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio reworked the text substantially to address the casual racism of the original, inserting around 30 minutes of spoken dialogue. Maclean's surveyed the critical reaction. 
    People in the news
    Among the tributes to Tommy Banks, who died of leukemia on Jan. 25th, were laudatory pieces in the Globe and MailCBC News, and Edmonton Journal. A well-attended remembrance ceremony took place Feb. 14th in Edmonton's Winspear Centre.
    Alexander Neef, the Canadian Opera Company's general director for the past 10 years, will add a new role as artistic director of Santa Fe Opera, working alongside general director Robert K. Meya and music director Harry Bicket, the New York Times reports
    The new general director of Calgary OperaKeith Cerny, has a history as a repetiteur for Richard Bradshaw, and as an innovator of opera technology in his previous post with Dallas Opera. The Globe and Mail profiled Cerny as he steps into his new role. 
    Three days after the Metropolitan Opera fired James Levine, following an investigation into abuse allegations, Levine has sued the company for defamation and breach of contract, the NY Times reports
    The Boston Symphony announced an independent investigation had found allegations against frequent guest conductor Charles Dutoit were credible, CBC News reported
    Following Levine's firing, NY Times critic Zachary Woolfe asked: Should We Rethink Maestro Worship? Reporting on Charles Dutoit's tenure with the Montreal Symphony prompted a related commentary by Globe and Mail critic Robert Everett-Green
    Many Canadian orchestra musicians (including yours truly) come via the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. The Toronto Star followed four such musicians from the TSO, Miles Jaques, Kelly Zimba, Clare Semes, and Charles Settle, as they worked with New World fellows and discussed the future of the profession.  
    New seasons 
    At the centre of the Edmonton Symphony's 2018-19 season, previewed by the Edmonton Journal, is a Sibelius mini-festival conducted by Alexander Prior. 
    The Record spoke with new Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony music director Andrei Feher to preview his first season as music director, highlighting Russian and Eastern European repertoire.
    The National Arts Centre Orchestra launched its 50th anniversary season with a bilingual YouTube video featuring music director Alexander ShelleyThe Globe and Mail also previewed the 2018-19 NAC season. 
    The National Ballet of Canada's season opens with a new Anna Karenina, co-produced with the Hamburg and Bolshoi Ballets. The Toronto Star previews the entire season. 
    As he oversees the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is standing by his city -- and Orchestre Métropolitain. The Montreal Gazette previewed OM's 2018-19 season, including Sibelius, Mahler, and Bartok.
    The Regina Post-Leader offered a run-down of the Regina Symphony's new season under music director Gordon Gerrard, the RSO's 110th anniversary. 
    Symphony Nova Scotia bids farewell to longtime music director Bernhard Gueller this May; resident conductor / community ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser spoke to the Chronicle Herald drumming up excitement for the upcoming season. 
    The Toronto Star's John Terauds and Globe and Mail's Jenna Simeonov agree: the Toronto Symphony's 2018-19 season will be familiar, traditional, and safe. Both critics previewed the upcoming season with interim artistic director Sir Andrew Davis, a transition year amid a music director search.
    Under music director Robert Franz, the Windsor Symphony takes a welcoming approach, inviting audience members to join the orchestra on stage in a series titled Beer and Beethoven. The Windsor Star previewedtheir 2018-19 season.
    The Winnipeg Symphony's 2018-19 season will be its first under music director Daniel RaiskinCBC posted a preview, and reported recently on the announcement of Raiskin's appointment. He grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, studying violin, viola, and conducting. 
    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. 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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