Orchestra Digest: April 13th

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This week: London city council mulls a new orchestra fund; TSO faces an uproar after cancelling Lisitsa; and how do session musicians make ends meet? Here are stories we're following...

News from Ontario orchestras: London, K-W, and Windsor

This afternoon, the London city council's Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee considers a proposal to outlay $300k to the London Arts Council for orchestra-related initiatives, the London Free Press and AM980 News report. Half of the grant would fund study into creating a sustainable, professional orchestra model for London; the other half would create a "We Play on Performance Fund" in support of the Musicians of Orchestra London.

The London Free Press surveyed city council members over the weekend, and found the picture mixed: 3 were opposed or leaning that way, 4 in favour, and 3 undecided; 3 others could not be reached. The meeting is underway at 4pm EST today.

Kitchener-Waterloo's city council met recently to consider the direction of the city's main performance venue, Centre in the Square, CBC News reports. After hearing a report from consulting firm ArtsBuild, the council voted 8-3 for a plan prioritizing community and cultural interests above commercial ones.  

And the Windsor Symphony announced a $500k gift from the Toldo Foundation, which will be matched by the Canadian Heritage Fund, the Windsor Star reports. The grant will go towards educational and outreach activities.

TSO and the Lisitsa controversy

The Toronto Symphony's decision to drop Russian-Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa from concerts last week, based on inflammatory tweets, rippled into a major controversy, after Lisitsa spoke out and defended her social media presence, the National Post reports.

The TSO planned to replace Lisitsa with pianist Stewart Goodyear, but then decided to drop the Rachmaninoff Concerto in face of the public controversy, the NPR's Deceptive Cadence blog reported. The concerts went ahead with a shortened program and diminished audiences, the Toronto Star reports.
Meanwhile, Lisitsa's attempt to perform at a Toronto church went awry, as the church withdrew the booking, the Toronto Star reported. Lisitsa's June appearance with the Calgary Philharmonic will go ahead as scheduled, CBC reports.
The Boston Symphony has signed a 5-year recording deal with Deutsche Grammophon, WQXR Boston reports. The BSO will record Shostakovich Symphonies 5-10 with music director Andris Nelsons; the first album is due out this summer.

The Globe and Mail interviewed Alexander Neef, the Canadian Opera Company's general director, about contemporary artist Mitchell Chan, the intersections of art and music, and why both matter.

The Saskatoon Symphony's music director designate, Eric Paetkau, received high marks from the StarPhoenix for an appearance guest conducting the SSO last month, in a program celebrating Saskatchewan artists.

The New York Philharmonic has announced its new concertmaster: Frank Huang, 36, will take over in September, having served previously as concertmaster with Houston Symphony and first violinist for the Ying Quartet, the NY Times reports.

The Edmonton Symphony recently recorded original music for a CBC documentary series, The Great Human Odyssey, with Edmontonian composer Darren Fung. The ESO also later performed the score live.The CBC put together a making-of documentary showing Fung and the ESO in action.

And Alan Willaert, the AFM's VP from Canada, helped the Globe and Mail answer a tricky question: I want to be a session musician. What will my salary be? As you might expect, the range is considerable.

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.

Orchestra Digest: March 27th

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This week: OSM's deal with Decca, another look at audiences in Pittsburgh, and remembering Sam Denov. Here are stories we're following...

Recording agreements and a new summer institute
Decca and the Montreal Symphony announced a new 5-year contract, with plans to record two new albums this year, Gramophone reports. The first of those albums, an operetta with music by Ibert and Honegger, was recorded this month.

AFM President Ray Hair contributed a guest post to Billboard this week, objecting to an agreement reached between Naxos and Pandora, the streaming music service. As Hair notes, the announcement gave no signal that artists would be paid SoundExchange royalties due to them.

This year's inaugural Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Institute at Whistler received a stronger-than-expected pool of applicants, the Whistler Question reports. The VSO Institute at Whistler takes place June 28-July 5th. 

Orchestral maneuvers
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's recent coverage of a Pittsburgh Symphony audience survey reached unfounded conclusions, according to a published response by musician, management, and board reps. The letter points out several significant strides in expanding the PSO's audience.

Last week the Winnipeg Symphony surprised visitors to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with a flash mob performance of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, Global News reports. Global also posted a video of the performance, which took place in the Garden of Contemplation.

This Saturday the Windsor Symphony and choruses perform Richard Einhorn's oratorio Voices of Light, alongside the 1920's silent film classic The Passion of Joan of Arc, Our Windsor reports.


The opera world is mourning two singers who were among the Germanwings flight crash victims this week, The Guardian reports. Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner had just performed Wagner's Siegfried in Barcelona; Radner was scheduled to perform with the Canadian Opera Company next season.

Chicago Symphony percussionist Sam Denov played a major role in the history of symphonic labour relations, as the Chicago Tribune reports. Denov was an author, labour relations consultant, and a founder and former chair of ICSOM; he died this month at age 91.

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.

Orchestra Digest: March 16th

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This week: Canadian Opera Company visits Brooklyn, gala offers hope for NYC Opera, and re-thinking concert halls in London. Here are stories we're following...

London update

London's city council scrapped a proposal for a new concert hall brought by Music London, an organization associated with the now-defunct Orchestra London, the Free Press reports. A report by Toronto consulting firm Novita helped seal the deal, while also suggesting steps for a future concert hall proposal.

Operatic news and a season launch

New Yorker reporter James B. Stewart covers
recent contract battles and financial questions at the Metropolitan Opera, in an extended piece focused on the Met's polarizing general manager, Peter Gelb.

We don't usually post reviews here, but the Canadian Opera Company's tour to Brooklyn was covered by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times last week - and both agreed that its production of Handel's Semele with sumo wrestlers was a triumph.

An operatic gala last week honoring conductor Julius Rudel also raised hopes for a revived New York City Opera, the New York Times reports. Anthony Rudel told the audience that his father would only approve a tribute concert if it benefitted music and musicians; the gala raised $800K.

The Victoria Symphony celebrates its 75th anniversary next season, with guests to include Yo-Yo Ma and the Naden Band, Victoria News reports.

Langrée extension, and Wallace Foundation studies audiences

Cincinnati Symphony music director Louis Langrée, who has only been on the job since 2013, received a vote of confidence when his contract was extended through 2020, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The Paris native has led a new music festival and a popular One City, One Symphony project, which brings together classical listening parties throughout the region.


The Wallace Foundation, in cooperation with the League of American Orchestras, released two major studies on building audiences for the performing arts: Getting Past "It's Not For People Like Us" explores the Pacific Northwest Ballet's initiatives for young adults, while Extending Reach with Technology examines projects at the Seattle Opera. Both studies are available for download. 

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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