Orchestra Digest: June 13th

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This week: Maestro farewells and welcomes; striking deals in Minnesota and elsewhere; and while Spring for Music has gone, a new "Shift" is coming. Here are stories we're following...

Goodbyes and hellos

As he finishes as music director of both the Saskatoon and Regina Symphonies, Victor Sawa gave his farewells in an interview with the Star Phoenix, along with some simple advice: "Keep it fun."

Gordon Gerrard will take over for Sawa as music director of the Regina Symphony in 2016, the Leader-Post reports. A native of Brandon, Manitoba, Gerrard has most recently been associate conductor of the Vancouver Symphony.

Alexander Shelley, the National Arts Centre Orchestra's music director designate, spoke with the Vancouver Sun during a recent visit guest conducting the Vancouver Symphony. Shelley said he intends to expand the symphonic repertoire, with a focus on Canadian composers.

Deals making headlines

It's official: Orchestra London has filed for voluntary bankruptcy, allowing the Musicians of Orchestra London to move forward to start a new organization, AM 980 News reports. The players also filed a media release explaining the bankruptcy.

Journalist Larry Cornies filed a piece in the London Free Press, looking at Orchestra London's final balance sheet while recalling an extraordinary compromise during another brush with insolvency, 15 years ago.
The Minnesota Orchestra has signed new, multi-year contracts with musicians and music director Osmo Vänskä, the Star Tribune reports. Major donations assisted the agreements, which will restore some of the 2014 cuts to the orchestra's size and salary.
Another orchestra enduring recent cuts, the Utah Symphony, announced a new 3-year agreement with 3.5% annual raises, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

And the San Antonio Symphony just reached a 2-year agreement - though if various benchmarks are met, it could automatically renew an additional 3 years, according to the Rivard Report. The agreement also ties musician salaries and season length to fundraising benchmarks.
The Houston Symphony announced one of its biggest donations ever, $5 million from board member Margaret Alkek Williams, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Other items of note
Pianist Valentina Lisitsa, whose recent engagement cancelled by the Toronto Symphony sparked controversy, will visit Donetsk in Russian-occupied Ukraine later this month, the Globe and Mail reports. Lisitsa also performed with the Calgary Philharmonic last weekend, with protests outside the hall, CTV News reports.

While some kids are making lanyards at summer camp, composer Chris Thornborrow and the Canadian Opera Company plan to help kids write a new opera, CBC reports.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and its main venue, Centre in the Square, have reached an agreement on how weekends will be scheduled, CBC reports. The Centre will have more flexibility to schedule its own events, while the KWS will retain the same number of weekends throughout the year.

And the NY Times reports that the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. will start a new orchestra festival, filling a void left by Carnegie Hall's Spring for Music. The inaugural "Shift: A Festival of American Orchestras", planned for 2017, will include the Boulder Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and the Knights.

Compiled by Matt Heller, OCSM 1st VP. 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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