Orchestra Digest: Election edition!

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This week: The election and the arts, Opera Lyra, #WePlayOn, and news from Philly. Here are stories we're following...
Almost every angle of this election has been covered - though as Globe and Mail's Marsha Lederman writes, arts and culture issues have gotten little attention on the campaign trail. That's despite the many artists who spoken out on politics, often using #artsvote or #ImagineOct20th.
If you're still weighing your options, the Canadian Arts Coalition has assembled Federal Party Positions on Arts on Culture, based on a questionnaire that all but the Conservatives answered.
And the Toronto Symphony recently hosted a forum for candidates from the Green Party, NDP, Liberals, and Conservatives to answer questions about their policies and the importance of the arts to Canada.
The Globe and Mail's Simon Houpt writes of the CBC: The election issue that wasn't (but should have been). While the parties have made their promises of financial support, there has been little talk about the overall purpose and role of the public media space.
Opera Lyra and #WePlayOn
And amid the election coverage, last Wednesday was a very sad day for the performing arts in Ottawa: Opera Lyra has ceased operations due to a budget shortfall, the Ottawa Citizen reports. The season has been cancelled; the Board is reviewing options for reviving operations in some form in the future.
The #WePlayOn Musicians performed Beethoven's 9th with guest conductor Bramwell Tovey, who later tweeted "#WePlayOn concert one of most memorable of my career. Standing O for @OLC_Musicians as they entered was deeply moving #Bravo". 
The Musicians are calling on Londoners, patrons, and orchestral music fans to make their voices hear and engage with their strategic planning process, as they work to build a new organization.

Read more: Orchestra Digest: Election edition!

Orchestra Digest: Oct. 8th

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This week: TSO innovates, new contracts in Chicago and St. Paul, and a new president for the Vancouver Symphony. Here are stories we're following...

Canadian symphonic news

The Toronto Symphony has created a new position, Vice-President for Innovation, and appointed Adrian FungMusical Toronto reports. A founding member of the award-winning Afiara Quartet, Fung will work with the TSO's outreach and education and in fostering new collaborations.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and other "pillar cultural groups" in the region may receive increased municipal support over the next few years, as the city council endorsed a consultant's recommendations, the Region Record reports. Possible increases are yet to be set; support will at least maintain at current levels. 

Symphony Nova Scotia benefitted from increased ticket sales, donations, and outreach activities, as well as a funding increase from the municipality of Halifax in 2014-15, the Chronicle Herald reports. The Symphony finished with a small deficit, attributable to weather cancellations and a decrease in Canada Council funding. 
The National Arts Centre's annual gala set a fundraising record at just over $1 million, the Ottawa Citizen reports. This gala was the first for new NACO music director Alexander Shelley, and also featured pianist Lang Lang. 
Kelly Tweeddale will take over as Vancouver Symphony president in November, the Sun reports. Tweeddale has served as Seattle Opera's executive director for 13 years, overseeing successful social media and fundraising initiatives. 
And 20 young Canadian string players faced difficult decisions between priceless instruments,  after winning the 2015 Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank Competition, as the National Post reports
Making news elsewhere
The Chicago Symphony ratified a 3-year contract including wage and pension increases and greater scheduling flexibility, the Chicago Tribune reports. This was the first CSO negotiation led by President Jeff Alexander, formerly of the Vancouver Symphony
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra signed a two-year contract extension with musicians, the first since the orchestra's 6-month lockout in 2012-13, the Star Tribune reports. The deal includes raises for lower-paid musicians in both years, while principal players will receive raises only in the second year. 
The Pittsburgh Symphony's 2015 summer season was pronounced a success, the Tribune-Review reports, with increased attendance at more concerts, including a new Thursday Night Icons Series and strong pops programming. 
Compiled by Matt Heller, OCSM 1st VP. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM on Facebook, or tweet us @ocsm-omosc.

Highlights from the 2015 OCSM Conference in Windsor

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More information about many of the items and presentations listed here are available from your OCSM Delegate on request. Thank you for reading!


  1. 40th Anniversary Conference dedicated to Jim Biros. OCSM held its first-ever Conference in 1975. This year, we remembered the former Executive Director of the Toronto Musicians Association, a great friend to all musicians and an active participant in many OCSM Conferences. Jim passed away last September; he will be missed.

  2. Unity Day with Canadian Conference. In a tradition Jim helped revive, Saturday was devoted to joint sessions with CanCon, the Conference of CFM Locals. The day included round table discussions, AFM officer reports, and a detailed presentation from the Musicians’ Pension Fund of Canada.

  3. Spotlight on Windsor and Detroit. This was OCSM’s first conference held in Windsor; we benefitted from a tour of the historic Capitol Theatre home of the WSO. We also heard presentations on the Detroit Symphony’s recovery from DSO Committee Chair (and Windsor resident) Haden McKay; and on Classical Revolution Detroit, from former DSO bassist Rick Robinson.

  4. Update from London: #WePlayOn. Thea Boyd, a former Orchestra London musician, reported on her colleagues’ efforts to present concerts, campaign for public support, and form a newly branded orchestra, currently known by its hashtag, #WePlayOn.

  5. Communications workshop with Randall Whatley, who shared successful media strategies used by many US orchestras, and encouraged Canadian orchestra Musicians’ Associations to establish their own website and social media presences.

  6. Musicians’ health workshop with Christine Guptill, who spoke about the Musicians’ Clinics of Canada and OCSM’s key role in getting it established. She also shared research on hearing protection, injury prevention, and other issues facing musicians.

  7. “Bargaining in the new new new economy.” OCSM Legal Counsel Michael Wright’s presentation addressed some economic arguments frequently heard in negotiations, with strategies for effectively responding.

  8. New and revised Media Guidelines. The OCSM Media Committee developed a new set of guidelines for studio recordings, and revised the existing guidelines for streaming of concert performances. Both documents are being finalized, and will be made available following CFM approval.

  9. Wage charts moving online. SSD Communications and Data Coordinator Laurence Hoffman introduced Delegates to the new entry system, and demonstrated how the information can be accessed and searched through a password-protected portal in the AFM website, wagechart.afm.org.

  10. Advocacy as Federal election approaches. Orchestras Canada Executive Director Katherine Carleton gave an overview of the symphonic sector’s advocacy materials and goals, as well as recent policy signals from the Canada Council.

  11. 2016 Conference to be held in Calgary. The Conference Committee recommended a site “in or around” Calgary, which OCSM last visited in 2000; dates are still TBD. They also put forward Ottawa as a tentative site for 2017.

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