Orchestra Digest: New seasons edition

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Deals, festivals, and a Mozart controversy

The New York Philharmonic reached agreement on a 3-year contract with modest salary increases, the NY Times reports. This was the first negotiation involving new President/CEO Deborah Borda, with new Music Director Jaap van Zweden set to take over in the fall.  

The Regina Symphony launched its new Forward Currents Festival this month, previewed in the Globe and Mail. Each year the festival will highlight a different social justice issue; this year's festival focused on Truth and Reconciliation, just weeks after the Gerald Stanley verdict in Colten Boushie's death sparked national outrage. 
 
The Vancouver Symphony's Spring Festival is underway this weekend, highlighting musical legends including Leonard Bernstein. The Georgia Straight previews the Festival. 
 
Symphony Nova Scotia has launched a new prize for women composers, the Maria Anna Mozart Award, and recently performed its first commission: Kelly-Marie Murphy's Dragon. The Chronicle Herald previewed the concert. 
 
The current Canadian Opera Company production of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio reworked the text substantially to address the casual racism of the original, inserting around 30 minutes of spoken dialogue. Maclean's surveyed the critical reaction. 
 
 
People in the news
 
Among the tributes to Tommy Banks, who died of leukemia on Jan. 25th, were laudatory pieces in the Globe and MailCBC News, and Edmonton Journal. A well-attended remembrance ceremony took place Feb. 14th in Edmonton's Winspear Centre.
 
Alexander Neef, the Canadian Opera Company's general director for the past 10 years, will add a new role as artistic director of Santa Fe Opera, working alongside general director Robert K. Meya and music director Harry Bicket, the New York Times reports
 
The new general director of Calgary OperaKeith Cerny, has a history as a repetiteur for Richard Bradshaw, and as an innovator of opera technology in his previous post with Dallas Opera. The Globe and Mail profiled Cerny as he steps into his new role. 
 
Three days after the Metropolitan Opera fired James Levine, following an investigation into abuse allegations, Levine has sued the company for defamation and breach of contract, the NY Times reports
 
The Boston Symphony announced an independent investigation had found allegations against frequent guest conductor Charles Dutoit were credible, CBC News reported
 
Following Levine's firing, NY Times critic Zachary Woolfe asked: Should We Rethink Maestro Worship? Reporting on Charles Dutoit's tenure with the Montreal Symphony prompted a related commentary by Globe and Mail critic Robert Everett-Green
 
Many Canadian orchestra musicians (including yours truly) come via the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. The Toronto Star followed four such musicians from the TSO, Miles Jaques, Kelly Zimba, Clare Semes, and Charles Settle, as they worked with New World fellows and discussed the future of the profession.  
 
 
New seasons 
 
At the centre of the Edmonton Symphony's 2018-19 season, previewed by the Edmonton Journal, is a Sibelius mini-festival conducted by Alexander Prior. 
 
The Record spoke with new Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony music director Andrei Feher to preview his first season as music director, highlighting Russian and Eastern European repertoire.
 
The National Arts Centre Orchestra launched its 50th anniversary season with a bilingual YouTube video featuring music director Alexander ShelleyThe Globe and Mail also previewed the 2018-19 NAC season. 
 
The National Ballet of Canada's season opens with a new Anna Karenina, co-produced with the Hamburg and Bolshoi Ballets. The Toronto Star previews the entire season. 
 
As he oversees the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is standing by his city -- and Orchestre Métropolitain. The Montreal Gazette previewed OM's 2018-19 season, including Sibelius, Mahler, and Bartok.
 
The Regina Post-Leader offered a run-down of the Regina Symphony's new season under music director Gordon Gerrard, the RSO's 110th anniversary. 
 
Symphony Nova Scotia bids farewell to longtime music director Bernhard Gueller this May; resident conductor / community ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser spoke to the Chronicle Herald drumming up excitement for the upcoming season. 
 
The Toronto Star's John Terauds and Globe and Mail's Jenna Simeonov agree: the Toronto Symphony's 2018-19 season will be familiar, traditional, and safe. Both critics previewed the upcoming season with interim artistic director Sir Andrew Davis, a transition year amid a music director search.
 
Under music director Robert Franz, the Windsor Symphony takes a welcoming approach, inviting audience members to join the orchestra on stage in a series titled Beer and Beethoven. The Windsor Star previewedtheir 2018-19 season.
 
The Winnipeg Symphony's 2018-19 season will be its first under music director Daniel RaiskinCBC posted a preview, and reported recently on the announcement of Raiskin's appointment. He grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, studying violin, viola, and conducting. 
 
 
Notice a correction, or an orchestra news story I missed? Please email me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or post to the list yourself! (Remember to include your name and orchestra in your post.) Thank you! - Matt Heller

Compiled by Matt Heller, with editorial assistance from Francine Schutzman. 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: Innovators edition

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New seasons and the rise of the supertitle
 
The Canadian Opera Company has announced its 2018/19 season, with six productions ranging from Mozart's Cosí fan tutte to a world premiere, Rufus Wainwright's Hadrian. The Globe and Mail previewed the season's notable performers and story lines. 
 
It's been 35 years since the Canadian Opera Company started a trend that revolutionized opera: supertitles. NPR News reported on how the projections brought a surge of popularity to the form. 
 
Tafelmusik also announced its 2018/19 season, its 40th anniversary, previewed in the Toronto Star:  it will include a new multimedia work by oboist Marco Cera and a return of another multimedia work by bassist Alison Mackay. The Globe and Mail notes the ensemble will tour the US and Canada. 
 
 
Canadian arts jobs, new music, and awards
 
Are non-Canadians sweeping up too many of Canada's most sought-after arts administration jobs? Should we be concerned about it? This weekend, the Globe and Mail looked at the issue, and factors behind an influx of foreign managers. 
 
In a recent piece for the Vancouver Courier, Clarisse Tonigussi, who started the Canadian Women Composers Project, argues that we've neglected and overlooked many of our most talented artists.
 
The Vancouver Symphony New Music Festival recently concluded under the direction of VSO composer-in-residence Jocelyn Morlock, the Sun reports. The festival also included a new violin concerto by composer-in-association Marcus Goddard, along with works by Samy Moussa and Andrew Staniland.
 
The Winnipeg Symphony wraps its Winnipeg New Music Festival (WNMF) this weekend; it featured Winnipeg composers Steven Webb and Kristen Wachniak, a Philip Glass premiere, the JACK Quartet, and much more. The Manitoban and CBC filed previews. 
 
The Houston Symphony, under former Calgary Philharmonic music director Hans Graf, won its first-ever Grammy Award last weekend, the Houston Chronicle reports. Their release of Berg's Wozzeck won for best opera recording. Canadian Barbara Hannigan also won for best classical vocal album, the LA Times reports. Other awards went to the Pittsburgh SymphonyNashville Symphony, and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.  
 
 
 
People in the news
 
Former Toronto Symphony principal violist Teng Li has accepted the same position with the LA Philharmonic, the Violin Channel reports
 
Concerning reports continue to arise regarding former Montreal Symphony music director Charles Dutoit's behaviour towards musicians, and how complaints were handled by the OSM. Le Devoir reports (in French). The CBC still features many Dutoit/OSM recordings, but no longer credits him in broadcasts, the Montreal Gazette reports
 
Former Opera Hamilton and Hamilton Philharmonic artistic director Daniel Lipton is wanted on sexual assault charges, which he denies, the Spectator reports. He was more recently artistic director of Opera Tampa, but resigned last July. 
 
Celebrating his "restless creative spirit", friends, students, and colleagues spoke to CBC News and the Edmonton Journal about jazz pianist and former Senator Tommy Banks, who died last week at the age of 81.
 
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Got a correction, or an orchestra news story I missed? Please email me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or post to the list yourself! (Remember to include your name and orchestra in your post.) Thank you! - Matt Heller

Compiled by Matt Heller, with editorial assistance from Francine Schutzman. 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: Holiday reckonings edition

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On tour, and in the ether
 

The NAC Orchestra finished a series of Canada 150 tours with a visit to the North, with stops in Iqaluit and Yellowknife, the Ottawa Citizen reports. The trip brought 9 musicians, several staff members, and music director Alexander Shelley to the Nunavut capital, where they worked with music students, performed a fundraiser for a new performing arts centre, and saw a breathtaking display of the Northern Lights. 

 
Orchestre Métropolitain just concluded a 7-concert European tour, with stops in Paris and Amsterdam. Several journalists accompanied the tour and filed reports: Christophe Huss posted an essay for Le Devoir (in French) and Arthur Kaptainis previewed the tour for the Montreal Gazette (in English). Christophe Huss also wrote a piece for Le Devoir following the tour, arguing that OM has outgrown its profile as Montreal's "second" orchestra.
 
The Calgary Philharmonic is celebrating the sesquicentennial by giving all Canadians a gift: a free subscription to Meludia, a Paris-based online ear-training platform. CBC News reports that anyone with a Canadian IP address can log in and use the service for free for one year, courtesy of the CPO. 
 
 
For all occasions
 
As we're all awash in Christmas music, Rob Kapilow reminds Toronto Star readers how and why many favourites were written by Jewish songwriters, from Irving Berlin to Mel Tormé. It's a fascinating story that starts with an exodus of Jewish refugees from Russia in the late 19th century, many of whose children became fixtures of Tin Pan Alley. 

The Vancouver Sun proposes several classical music concerts that aren't holiday-specific, including chamber music performances by members of the Vancouver Symphony.
 
For the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion (Dec. 6, 1917), Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke teamed up with Symphony Nova Scotia for an original work, the Chronicle Herald reported. Titled Achieving Disaster, Dreaming Resurrection, the work was premiered last Wednesday. 
 
The New York Times recently previewed arts events around the world, singling out one Montreal Symphony weekend for special mention: a premiere of a double bass concerto by Iranian-born composer Behzad Ranjbaran in a programme also featuring Mahler, Wagner, and the OSM's octobass. 
 
 
Conductors and the current moment
 
Midway through his first season as Edmonton Symphony music director, Alexander Prior is winning over audiences with a combination of enthusiasm, passion, and an "impish" sense of humour, Edmonton Journal critic Mark Morris writes. Morris caught up with Prior to talk about orchestra traditions that could use revising, his own music, and how to capture the hearts and minds of Oilers fans. 
 
Regina Symphony music director Gordon Gerrard is earning similarly rave reviews, in just his second season at the helm. The Regina Post's Jeff Dedekker interviewedGerrard and others, reviewing his tenure so far. 
 
Following widely reported allegations against former Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine, who was suspended last week from further appearances with the company, the Met Orchestra musicians released a statement expressing support for the accusers, and calling on management to share results of the investigation as transparently as possible. 
 
It's the "year of the conductor" at the Winnipeg Symphony, with 11 maestros taking a turn on the podium, the Free Press reports -- all of which led Holly Harris to ask why women have been so underrepresented as conductors. Just one of the 11 conductors (Canadian Keri-Lynn Wilson) is a woman. 
 
Do cultural works, including classics of the ballet and opera repertoire, re-enact harmful gender stereotypes on stage? Looking at the current Toronto arts season, Globe and Mail journalist Martha Schabas argues that the ways we justify violent, misogynist works can be disingenuous. 
 
 
Got a correction, or an orchestra news story I missed? Please email me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or post to the list yourself! (Remember to include your name and orchestra in your post.) Thank you! - Matt Heller

Compiled by Matt Heller, with editorial assistance from Francine Schutzman. 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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