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.

Orchestra Digest: May 17th

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This week: the MinnOrch takes Havana, hackers take over an orchestra, and a legal reversal in BC. Here are stories we're following...

Orchestras and people on the move, from Havana to Calgary
The Minnesota Orchestra is completing a historic tour of Cuba, including two concerts in Havana,  the Strib reports. Many journalists (including the NY Times' Michael Cooper) and diplomats accompanied the trip; it was seen as a breakthrough in cultural relations between the two nations, as well as a brilliant performance by a reborn orchestra. The last major US orchestra to visit Cuba was the Milwaukee Symphony, in 1999.
The Cincinnati Symphony signed a 4-year labour agreement, which will increase the orchestra's size by 14 musicians, the NY Times reports. The orchestra has been bolstering its endowment and seeing rising attendance under music director Louis Langrée.

Melia Peters Tourangeau will be the next President/CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Post-Gazette reports. Ms. Tourangeau leaves the Utah Symphony, where she has led a successful stint since 2008.

The Calgary Philharmonic announced its 2015-16 season, the Calgary Herald reports, including a festival of fairy tales and legends, expanded forays into new and familiar venues, and a healthy dose of Brahms and Mahler.

Canadian music directors take their bows

Saskatchewan conferred its highest honour, the Order of Merit, on departing Regina Symphony music director Victor Sawa, the Leader-Post reports. Sawa just completed his 18th season as RSO music director.

While he's not finished yet as music director of the Edmonton Symphony, Bill Eddins spoke candidly with the Edmonton Journal about next chapters, both his own and that of the symphonic art form.
And the newest Canadian music director is Gemma New, a 28-year-old New Zealand native who has just been appointed by the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Spec reports. New is currently the associate conductor of the New Jersey Symphony.

A major ruling in BC, and more news from Canadian orchestras

The Court of Appeal of British Columbia has overturned the provincial Supreme Court's ruling last year, which set aside the AFM's trusteeship of the Vancouver Musicians' Association (Local 145). The AFM website celebrated the decision, though it's not yet clear whether the trusteeship will resume.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is staging a "hackathon" next weekend, Communitech reports, and challenging tech-savvy music lovers to #HackTheOrchestra. Music director Edwin Outwater considers what that might mean, and the parallels between coding and music-making.

And the Windsor Symphony announced a major donation from the Ursuline Sisters of Chatham, a Catholic order that operated a long-standing music school in the region, the Windsor Star reports.

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.

Orchestra Digest: May 2nd

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This week: Symphonic healing in London and Baltimore, Canada debates copyright and union regulations, and remembering a trumpet legend. Here are stories we're following...

#WePlayOn in London and Baltimore
Living up to their Twitter hashtag, #WePlayOn, the Musicians of Orchestra London continue to perform around the city, London Community News reports. Their latest concert was An Afternoon at the Proms with guest conductor Eric Paetkau.

As the London Arts Council works to restore professional symphonic music long-term, IATSE stagecrew staff are feeling left out, the London Free Press reports. LAC Director Andrea Halwa replied that a plan is being developed, and production details are still to come.
With their own city in crisis, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra showed the power of music to heal a community with a free outdoor concert on Wednesday, the Baltimore Sun and Newsmax report. Photos and reactions appeared on Twitter at #BSOPeace.

News from Parliament
In a report on the 2015 Federal Budget, the Canadian Arts Coalition expressed disappointment, particularly with the decision to keep Canada Council funding unchanged. On the positive side, CAC pointed to $210m allotted for celebrations of Canada's 150th anniversary.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau this week voiced opposition to Bill C-377, calling it "a masterpiece of anti-worker sentiment", Huffington Post Canada reports. The bill would place new financial reporting requirements on unions.
Industry groups, including Music Canada, are applauding a proposed extension of Canada's copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years; meanwhile, critics question its impact on the creation and consumption of media content, the National Post reports.

Taps for a trumpet legend, and other news
Trumpeter Rolf Smedvig, a founding member of the Empire Brass Quintet and former principal of the Boston Symphony, died of a heart attack this week, the New York Times reports. Mr. Smedvig can be heard on many recordings; he was 62.
The Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra celebrated its 40th anniversary last week, the Toronto Star reports, and the young musicians had extra reason to celebrate, as TSO CEO Jeff Melanson announced that next season's fees will be waived.

And the Calgary Philharmonic scored with a serendipitous encore, as CBC reports, turning Carl Orff's "O Fortuna" into a hockey anthem as the hometown Flames finished off a victory in the NHL playoffs last weekend.

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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