KWS closed until further notice

KW Symphony Delegate Rebecca Diderrich reports on the aftermath of a September bombshell. 

On Saturday, September 16th, one day before payroll would have begun for the season and three days before our first scheduled service, the members of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony received notice that our board of directors had decided our season would not begin that week, and that we were not called back to work after the summer layoff.

This message came without any warning to us. We had been preparing for the season in all of the usual ways: new employees moving into town, audition excerpt lists being compiled for upcoming auditions, seating charts and practice parts made available to us for the first few busy weeks of the fall. Within an hour, all events were removed from the symphony’s website and it became apparent that not only would the season not begin that week, it would in fact not happen at all.

Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Players' Association Treasurer Jennifer Stephen reports on support, financial and otherwise, for musicians.

Following the declaration of bankruptcy by the Board of the KWS, the Musicians banded together to begin a fundraising campaign. That campaign continues to show very strong support, over six weeks after its initial launch.  

The fundraising efforts have expanded to encompass not only the initial GoFundMe campaign, but also direct donations via e-transfer to the KWS Players’ Association, and donations and ticket sales generated from the concerts that the Musicians have self-produced. 

We have received a great show of solidarity from other Orchestras and Organizations from across Canada and beyond. To date, donations from Musicians’ Associations, Players’ Committees and music-based companies have reached over $42,500. 


The Edmonton Symphony and Calgary Philharmonic performed together on Nov. 10 at Calgary’s Jack Singer Concert Hall and the following day at Edmonton’s Winspear Centre. Thank you to the many musicians who contributed photos!

A view from the harp section at the Winspear Centre

Concertmasters Robert Uchida & Diana Cohen

Coverage of the 1985 VSO lockoutLongtime Vancouver Symphony musician and former OCSM Secretary Stephen Wilkes recounts the early labour history of the VSO, from its first CBA in 1966 to a brush with bankruptcy in 1988. 

The Vancouver Symphony is not without its labour upheavals, although the musicians had no history of militancy in the early beginnings of their collective bargaining agreements (cba). The orchestra members voted for a strike, bitterly opposed by the Vancouver Symphony Society (VSS) at the start of the 1965-66 season. This was to achieve their first CBA, despite bitter opposition, by the Vancouver Symphony Society (VSS). The result, however, was a three-year agreement which formally structured wages and benefits. 

Transitioning to the 1980’s was a difficult struggle as the orchestra became more fully professional as to quality, size, and budget. There was a demand for more information from the Society and for the acceptance of musician input. The view of the management team was that cba’s of that period were “too rich.”  Bargaining for a new contract in 1985 saw the musicians with raised expectations due to a new Music Director, who was to start in the fall, along with that of the impending Expo ’86 and its expansive music programme.


San Antonio Symphony declares bankruptcy and dissolves 

The San Antonio Symphony will dissolve after a labour dispute canceled much of the 2021-22 season, the NY Times reports. San Antonio, with a population of 1.5 million, will be the largest US city without a professional symphony orchestra.  

San Antonio Report also covered the bankruptcy and dissolution. 

Musicians and the board of directors issued statements on their respective websites. 

Earlier this month, musicians independently presented a series of three concerts, Texas Public Radio reported.  

London Symphonia at Metropolitan United Church

The latest coverage of orchestras, people, and trends in the arts. Here are stories we're following.


Performances, tours and venues

The London Symphonia’s home venue, Metropolitan United Church, will receive $300K in federal funding for renovations, the Free Press reported. Separately, Free Press columnist Jane Sims celebrated the resilience and pluck of the orchestra, dubbing it the Little Orchestra That Could. (photo: London Symphonia)

The National Arts Centre Orchestra earned rave reviews for a concert last month at Carnegie Hall, titled Truth In Our Time, the Ottawa Citizen reported

The Boston Symphony canceled an European tour in May due to pandemic concerns, the New York Times reported. The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra also recently canceled a tour of Japan and South Korea planned for June.  

BBC News reported that an orchestra of Ukrainian refugees, the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, will be part of the 2022 BBC Proms line-up, appearing on July 31st.

The Regina Symphony presented its annual Forward Currents Festival this past weekend, dedicated this year to celebrating queer artists, the Leader-Post reported.

And CBC News reported on a collaboration between the Montreal Symphony and Montreal Planetarium, designed for our very youngest audience members: babies. 

The latest coverage of orchestras, people, and trends in the arts. Here are stories we're following.XPK33TXSDRADHPXVESKOUQOMRQ

Artists and institutions respond to war in Ukraine

Classical music institutions worldwide are expressing support for the Ukrainian people, including the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (photo: Handout) wrapping its glass tower in blue and yellow, the Globe and Mail reports. For Dutch-Canadian conductor Arthur Arnold, the decision to resign as music director of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra felt fraught but inevitable. 

February 22, 2022: The latest coverage of orchestras, people, and trends in the arts. Here are stories we're following. (Photo credit: Barbara Hannigan, taken by Marco Borggreve)


Business: Digital music, dismal returns

A report from UNESCO confirmed that digital distribution models are failing to adequately pay artists, continuing trends from before the pandemic, the Globe and Mail reports.

As the recent Joe Rogan controversy focuses attention on Spotify, New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross describes the economic impacts and injustices of Spotify and other streaming services’ artist fee models, which have received comparatively little attention. 

And as venues reopen in Quebec and across Canada, many expect a long recovery for live performing arts venues, the Globe and Mail reports

New Toronto Symphony CEO Mark Williams: photo Russell Lee/TSOThe latest coverage of orchestras, people, and trends in the arts. Here are stories we're following. (Newly hired Toronto Symphony CEO Mark Williams, photo Russell Lee/TSO)


Arts and pandemic coverage

Protests in Ottawa extended into a fifth day, disrupting many businesses and causing concern about when and how the demonstrations will end, CBC News reports

Organizers of Quebec City’s Winter Carnival, scheduled to open this Friday, are also voicing concerns, as protesters plan demonstrations there beginning Thursday, CBC News reports.

While Ontario has lifted some restrictions, concert presenters still face complications and uncertainties, the Globe and Mail reports. While cinemas, casinos, and restaurants are returning to full capacity later this month, the province will maintain a 50% capacity limit on live arts events through at least mid-March. 

Globe and Mail journalist Kate Taylor also reported on the current arts climate: Omicron decimated Canada’s performing arts centres, but lifting restrictions gives cause for optimism. 

The Globe and Mail’s daily news podcast, The Decibel, featured an interview with Taylor about the pandemic’s devastating impact on the arts, lingering uncertainties, and the prospect for a comeback. The audio story is available through various podcast apps, and at the Globe and Mail website. 

Composer John EstacioRead on for coverage of labour disputes in San Antonio and Springfield; a wave of Omicron cancellations; opinions and people in the news, including composer and Order of Canada recipient John Estacio. (Photo: CBC News)


Labour news

The New York Times reported on the pandemic struggles of orchestras with ‘underlying conditions’, focusing on the San Antonio Symphony and Springfield (Massachusetts) Symphony Orchestra, both of which remain in contentious labour disputes. 

As the San Antonio Symphony strike continues, some musicians have found work or relocated to other cities, according to San Antonio News Report. For those with deeper roots in San Antonio, the decision to leave is more fraught.