Orchestra Digest: Tours & tributes

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This week: OSM and NACO on tour; Gary Hanson's TSO agenda; defending Canadian culture from digital disrupters; and remembering Gord Downie. Here are stories we're following in the news...
On tour and in concert
The National Arts Centre Orchestra is touring western Canada this month, with stops in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC in celebration of Canada's 150th. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix interviewed music director Alexander Shelley on his way out west. 
CBC News Manitoba interviewed Peter Herrndorf, the president of the National Arts Centre since 1999, who recently announced he will resign in 2018. Born in the Netherlands, Herrndorf moved to Winnipeg with his family and began his career began with the CBC. 
As NACO tours the west, those in Ottawa are getting a look at its renovated home. The NAC recently completed the second of 3 phases of its renovation, and the Ottawa Citizen checked out the upgrades in two separate reports, finding that the once fortress-like NAC has come to resemble a friendly community centre. 
The Montreal Symphony performed at Carnegie Hall earlier this week, and the NY Times acclaimed their capturing of "Bartok's strangeness". ZealNYC, an arts blog, also posted interviews with Kent Nagano and composer Samy Moussa.
Institutional news
The past two Toronto Symphony seasons brought "lifeboat drama" worthy of the Life of Pi, writes Globe and Mail critic Marsha Lederman - but interim president Gary Hanson and interim music director Sir Andrew Davis are determined to put the house in order. Lederman spoke with Hanson, Bramwell Tovey, and arts management experts, offering analysis of this tumultuous period and the prospects for stability. 
The Winnipeg Symphony announced its 10th consecutive surplus, albeit a small one: $2,540 on a budget of $9.2m, the Free Press reports. Board president Terry Sergeant spoke to the WSO's strong financial position as well as challenges, including the need for an endowment and upgrades to Centennial Concert Hall.
The Windsor Symphony has a new Steinway piano, thanks to a donation from the late Joyce Weingarden, CBC reports. The instrument will make its debut at the Capitol Theatre in November.
Ridiculous as it may seem, opera consistently enchants, writes Russell Smith for the Globe and Mail. His essay was inspired by a recent visit to the Canadian Opera Company, which recently announced a small surplus and record fundraising for the 2016-17 season.  
Composers and others in the news 
Jared Miller's 2-minute piece Buzzer Beater pays homage to basketball's Canadian origins -- and introduces its use as a percussion instrument, CBC News Toronto reports. As part of the Toronto Symphony's commissions for Canada's 150th, the piece will be performed both by the TSO and the Victoria Symphony this season. 
Montreal Gazette critic Arthur Kaptainis reconsidered the works of André Mathieu, a composer best known for his Concerto de Quebec. Two recent recordings -- of an earlier, longer version of the work, and a new orchestrated version of the later work -- prompted Kaptainis' reassessment.
Alexander Neef is marking his 10th year as General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, and the Toronto Star took the occasion to interview him on premiering new works, moving to a new hall, and other highlights of his career so far. Neef just extended his contract through 2026, The Canadian Press reported
Outgoing music director Alexander Mickelthwate learned a lot through his tenure with the Winnipeg Symphony; he shared some lessons on leadership with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, in a speech covered by the Free Press
Are multinational tech companies threatening Canada's media and cultural industries? A new petition, Declaration for the sustainability and vitality of national culture in the digital era, launched in Quebec last month, calling on federal and provincial governments to more forcefully regulate tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and Netflix.
The Canadian Arts Coalition will convene its Arts Day on the Hill on Thursday, November 2nd, including meetings and budget briefings with key leaders in Ottawa. The activities will be more limited than in past years, but CAC is encouraging arts advocates to meet with their MPs in their own ridings the week of November 13-17; visit the CAC website for guidance and resources.
Also of note
ICSOM's newsletter, Senza Sordino, has posted a new edition for October - including reports on Houston after Hurricane Harvey, AFM-EPF pension news, reports from the 2017 conference, and more. Former ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge also wrote a notable essay on Puerto Rico, La Tierra de Borinquen. ICSOM has a call to action to assist the musicians of the Puerto Rico Symphony.
And with news of the passing of Gord Downie, cultural commentators are paying tribute to his legacy - one such tribute was posted at MacLean's, where Patrick Finn places Downie in a tradition of Canadian cultural figures. 
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. . 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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