Orchestra Digest: Orchestra London update

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This week: We again focus a separate edition on news from London, where musicians continue to garner popular support, while former manager Joe Swan wades into controversy.

Musicians of Orchestra London: #WePlayOn

The musicians' efforts to rekindle symphonic music continue to gather press attention. Concertmaster Joe Lanza talked to AM980 News about the musicians' pop-up concerts, which included a concert at the London Airport before Christmas.

Many OL musicians also performed on the Serenata chamber music series, (London Free Press report) and a "community connection" concert this past Wednesday conducted by Uri Mayer (London Free Press report). They are promoting their performances with the Twitter hashtag #WePlayOn.

London Institute Director Amir Farahi wrote an opinion piece for the London Community News, arguing that arts organizations deserve municipal support. Farahi points out that the cultural sector directly contributes $540 million to London's GDP.

Joe Swan resurfaces, and concert hall battles resume

Former OL executive director Joe Swan continues to face media scrutiny, including a Free Press investigative report focused on questionable consulting contracts. Among the paid consultants was Swan's son, an 18-year old dance student at the time.

Speaking to the Free Press this week, Swan defended that decision and his overall management of the organization. Swan blamed the orchestra's failure on the poor quality of its venue, Centennial Hall.

Many OL employees were never paid, the Free Press reports, including accounting firm NPT. The unpaid bill is further delaying the city council's calls for audited financials. 

London Mayor Matt Brown and his staff are evaluating a proposal by Centennial Hall to showcase the Musicians of Orchestra London in three concerts this spring, CTV News reports. Centennial Hall manager Don Jones hopes the concerts will prove that the orchestra can be a successful business model. Representing the musicians, concertmaster Joe Lanza said this was the first he had heard of the proposal.

The proposal for a new London performing arts centre remains viable, according to London lawyer and lead promoter Jamie Caskey, the Free Press reported.  Caskey represents Music London, an organization which included Orchestra London; a feasibility study by independent consultant firm Novita is now in the works.

OCSM Call to Action

OCSM President Robert Fraser posted a Call to Action on Thursday, encouraging the symphonic community and wider public to support the musicians' efforts. Please join the campaign by liking Musicians of Orchestra London on Facebook!

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.
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