Orchestra Digest: February 3rd

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This week: The orchestra is the jewel in TSO's new season, new agreements for SF Symphony and Yannick, and Edmontonians consider the post-Eddins era. 

Orchestras in the news

The Toronto Symphony announced its 2015-16 season last week with an emphasis on the orchestra rather than high-profile soloists, as the National Post reports. "If you constantly bring in superstars, you can undermine people's view of the orchestra as the jewel," music director Peter Oundjian said. The Globe and Mail also previewed the TSO's new season.

The musicians of Orchestra London will perform again this Sunday, with guest soprano Sonja Gustafson and conductor Brian Jackson joining them for Broadway musical highlights, the London Free Press reports.

And shows are still on for London-based symphonic rock group Jeans 'n Classics, the Free Press reports. Leader Peter Brennan wants people to know that the group is very much a going concern; they broke off their affiliation with Orchestra London in 2012.

Management and musicians of the San Francisco Symphony reached a new 3-year agreement through November 2018, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Two years ago, a brief strike cancelled several concerts and an East Coast tour.

A group of investors led by hedge fund manager Roy Niederhoffer will work to revive the New York City Opera, the Wall Street Journal reports. Two competing bids were studied by US Bankruptcy Court Judge Sean Lane, who agreed that Niederhoffer's group gave a better proposal. 

Travel across the US border continues to be a worry for musicians whose instruments contain small amounts of ivory or Brazilian rosewood, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Some musicians may not even be aware of their instruments' materials, but US Wildlife Service agents are demanding they obtain passports confirming their provenance.

Read more: Orchestra Digest: February 3rd

Orchestra Digest: January 17

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This week: Windsor Symphony goes to council, TSO's Melanson reflects on his rookie year, and remembering symphonic legends. Please see also our latest update from Orchestra London.

Canadian orchestras (and Opera) in the news

Windsor Symphony executives will go before city council on Monday, seeking to extend its agreement to manage the city's Capitol Theatre, the Windsor Star reports. Executive Director Sheila Wisdom credits new music director Robert Franz, quality musicianship, and strong programming for the orchestra's recent successes.

A new health and wellness initiative at the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony made the pages of the Waterloo Record, focusing on its work with aging and dementia. 
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler will launch this summer, a press release announced. The dates for this inaugural year are June 28-July 5, 2015.
And the Canadian Opera Company announced an unprecedented focus on Canadian music, in its 2015-16 season and beyond, The Globe and Mail reports. The first offering will be the premiere of Pyramus and Thisbe by Toronto composer Barbara Monk Feldman. NOW Toronto also previewed COC's 2015-16 season this week.

Read more: Orchestra Digest: January 17

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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