Orchestra Digest: July 31

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This week: Good news from US orchestras; Vancouver Opera's shrinking season; and remembering Vic Firth.
 
 
US and international news
 
Hartford Symphony musicians and supporters rallied outside the concert hall on Thursday, WNPR reports. The musicians went public with details from their management's latest contract proposal, which would cut pay by 40%. Polyphonic.org contributor Steve Metcalf also posted about the dispute.
 
Russian-born conductor Kirill Petrenko will become the next music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, the NY Times reports. The orchestra's musicians choose their own music director in a private election; Petrenko will take over from Simon Rattle in 2018.
 
Several US orchestras reported positive news: the Oregonian reports on the Oregon Symphony, which set records for ticket sales and contributions last season; the Indianapolis Symphony saw ticket sales jump 15%, according to the Indy Business Journal; and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Atlanta Symphony finished with a surplus, which will help restore the orchestra's size to 88 players. 
 
Vic Firth, the legendary principal timpanist of the Boston Symphony, passed away this week at age 85, NPR reports. Firth was also renowned as an entrepreneur, creating his own brand of percussion equipment.
 
 
News from across Canada
 
Beginning in 2017, the Vancouver Opera will switch to a spring festival format, producing 3 operas in 3 weeks, the Georgia Straight reports. The move comes amid concerns about sustainability and declining audience; but many were disappointed, including VSO Music Director Bramwell Tovey, who spoke out on Twitter.
 
The Calgary Philharmonic named Paul Dornian its next President/CEO, effective this month, the Calgary Herald reports. Dornian most recently led Calgary's Mount Royal University through a major expansion, and has been a board member and board chair of the CPO.
 
CBC News profiled Gemma New, the recently appointed music director of the Hamilton PhilharmonicAt just 28, New joins a small minority of female music directors, in Canada and worldwide. 
 
And the Toronto Star's Once Upon a City column remembered the Toronto Symphony's inaugural season, in 1923, performing Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Dvorak. "The 58 players received $3.95 each for the hour-long concert and four rehearsals. But it wasn’t so much money that motivated them as a desire to tackle a more challenging repertoire than that of vaudeville shows and movie theatres."
 

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: 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.

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