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.

A Call to Action: support musicians of Orchestra London

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A “Call to Action” for assistance to the musicians of Orchestra London Canada

From the OCSM Executive Board

Dear colleagues:

As you know, Orchestra London has ceased operations for at least the remainder of the 2014-15 Season. The staff have been laid off and the office has closed, but the musicians have been busy working with their Board of Directors to find a way to get the orchestra's operations running again. In the meantime, the musicians themselves have vowed to keep symphonic music going in London. They performed more than twenty free “Pop-Up Concerts” throughout the holiday season, and only last night (January 14, 2015) they performed to a packed church with their former Music Director, Uri Meyer.

At this point, we are calling on you to assist your friends in London – here is what you can do to help:

1. Send money to assist the musicians with their efforts. Several orchestras have been in contact with the Executive to start this process already. Cheques can be made out to OLPA (Orchestra London Players’ Association) and can be mailed to:

16 Bloomfield Drive

London ON N6G 1P3 Canada

2. If possible, consider hiring OLC musicians as subs and extras in your own orchestra. This is not only helpful to the musicians financially, it also demonstrates our solidarity with our colleagues to the public, and highlights the exceptional abilities of these talented musicians.

3. Follow the OLPA’s Social Media campaign. The musicians have demonstrated excellent communications so far in this trying time. You can help with “Likes” and re-tweets, sharing the information with music lovers in your own communities, and contributing to their positive message.

And, above all:

4. Fight the negativity! When one orchestra is in trouble, the media tend to lead articles with lines like: “Orchestras in trouble”, “Bad news for arts organizations”, etc. For every negative story, one hundred positive stories go unreported. Find the positive messages and spread them widely. Emphasize the tangible and non-tangible reasons why the arts are important to communities.

We look forward to hearing great news from London as we rally around our friends.

In solidarity,

Robert Fraser, President

On behalf of the OCSM Executive

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