Highlights of the 2013 OCSM Conference

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The 2013 OCSM Conference was held in Saskatoon, SK, August 14-18, 2013.

1. Conference dedicated to Evelyne Robitaille. Past president of OCSM and a feisty, determined advocate for Canadian symphonic musicians, Evelyne passed away on February 17th, 2013. The Conference was dedicated to her memory.

2. Strategic Planning for OCSM. With help from arts consultant Drew McManus and others, OCSM engaged in strategic planning for the first time in recent memory. Focuses included better using existing resources; ways to assist Orchestra Committees; succession planning; and internal communications. Several initiatives have been started, and the Strategic Planning Committee will stay active.

3. New Electronic Media Chair position. Recognizing the need for leadership in electronic media, and the complexities involved, the OCSM Executive proposed the creation of a standing Electronic Media Chair, who will report to the OCSM Executive, serve as OCSM's representative to Musicians' Rights Organization Canada (MROC), and serve as OCSM's main point person for national media agreements. This new position is on a trial basis for a two-year term. OCSM Delegates approved it, and the Executive appointed Rob McCosh. 

4. Advocacy. OCSM’s Government and Communications Committee will circulate a questionnaire to all OCSM members, a “Cultural Footprint Survey”. This will be used to show the wide range of benefits communities derive from symphonic musicians’ presence, and the economic contribution that 1100 symphony musicians provide locally and nationally. OCSM will be involved in the Orchestras Canada Advocacy Committee and attend the Arts on the Hill interaction with politicians and civil servants in Ottawa this fall. 

5. Musicians' Pension Fund of Canada. This past year, the OCSM Executive led an effort for an independent consultation on the recent Pension Fund changes. MPF completed that review (the report is available), and brought its own actuary Phil Rivard and legal counsel Mike Mazzucca to Saskatoon to provide context and detail on those changes, and to answer extensive questions from Delegates.

6. Musicians' Rights Organization Canada. New CEO Margaret McGuffin and board chair Dave Jandrisch gave an intro to MROC, and sought Delegate's input on a drive to register Canadian symphonic musicians widely so that payments of orchestral recordings can proceed. OCSM Delegates passed a resolution urging members to register with MROC, so that MROC can study distribution models to pay symphonic musicians for their recorded work. 

7. Concern for US orchestras, and extension of OCSM Relief Fund policies. Delegates heard reports on US orchestra lockouts and passed a resolution urging the Minnesota Orchestra board and management to comply with requests for financial information, negotiate in good faith, and end the lockout. Delegates also approved a bylaw change extending the use of the OCSM Relief Fund to help support US orchestras and AFM/CFM Locals. (The OCSM Executive, who serve as Trustees, have established guidelines which cap expenditures at $500; higher amounts require approval of a majority of Delegates.)

8. Conference Topics. As always, OCSM Delegates discuss and exchange information about a wide range of topics. This year topics included national and international auditions; workload issues; chamber music and education work done under symphony auspices; liability insurance while at work; employment insurance; policies on return to work after injury; relations between concert halls and orchestras; symphonic media initiatives, the CBC, and the future of symphonic media; and much more.

9. New OCSM Executive Board elected. The 2013-14 OCSM executive and adjunct officers:

Robert Fraser, President (Victoria Symphony)
David Brown, 1st VP (Vancouver Symphony)
Liz Johnston, 2nd VP (Canadian Opera Company)
Faith Schofield, Secretary (Windsor Symphony)
Greg Sheldon, Treasurer (Windsor Symphony)

Robert McCosh, Electronic Media Chair (Calgary Philharmonic)
Barbara Hankins, Publications Editor (Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony)
Ken MacDonald, Webmaster (Winnipeg Symphony)
Michael Hope, Conductor Evaluations admin (Calgary Philharmonic)

(With help from past presidents, Francine Schutzman and Matt Heller)

10. Next year's Conference site selection. The Conference Committee has proposed Halifax and London, Ontario as likely locations for the 2014 OCSM Conference.

Orchestra Digest: August 10

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This week: Victoria's peaceful Splash, the TSO's latest recording, cultural agency leadership, and symphonic player conferences. Here's what we're following....
Symphony and the City
Mozart may or may not make you smarter, but apparently symphony concerts can make cities more peaceful... The Victoria News was on the beat last Sunday, when the Victoria Symphony performed for a crowd of 40,000 without a single call for police service. 
The Atlanta Symphony's reduced season has had an impact on Atlanta's music scene, Arts Atlanta reports, with a 10-week drought of classical music concerts this summer. (Note: The ASO is slated to return to a 52-week season in 2013-14.)
Symphonic music lives on in Albuquerque, thanks to the newly formed New Mexico Philharmonic. A commentary in the Albuquerque Journal reviews the demise of the New Mexico Symphony, and the creative efforts of musicians including ROPA president (and cellist) Carla Lehmeier-Tatum to form the new orchestra.
The Hawaii Symphony, which emerged after the Honolulu Symphony's liquidation in 2009, this week announced the launch of its second season, the Kansas City Star reports. The HSO managed to break even in its first season, in 2011-12, but 2012-13 was completely cancelled, and 2013-14 will be significantly shorter. (Note: ICSOM Delegate Steve Flanter provided a correction of misleading information in the original article.) 
On Tuesday, the Toronto Symphony released its 8th recording on its own TSO Live label, Broadway World reports. The recording includes live performances of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances, and is being sold via download and at Roy Thomson Hall. 

Read more: Orchestra Digest: August 10

Orchestra Digest: August 2

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This week: Suffering for our art, the TSO's Andrew Shaw departs, AFM President Ray Hair re-elected, and much more. Here are stories we're following...
Symphonic Life
The Montreal Symphony will present 30 concerts of 45 minutes or less during its two-day "A Cool Classical Journey," Broadway World reports. The festival takes place August 16-17. 
Ottawa mayor Jim Watson will travel to China alongside the National Arts Centre Orchestra this fall, the Ottawa Citizen reports. He will engage in trade talks, and also attend a NACO performance with Chinese officials.
Today's Los Angeles Times catalogues the ways classical musicians suffer for their art, physically. Torn rotator cuffs, hearing loss, hernias, and crippling tendinitis all get mention, as do rotations and time-off policies that can help. 
Climbing ticket sales at the National Arts Centre Orchestra have been credited to expanded programming, CBC reports. Managing Director Christopher Deacon says, "We're trying to appeal to a younger audience taste, so that's evolving."

Read more: Orchestra Digest: August 2

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