Orchestra Digest: Oct. 8th

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This week: TSO innovates, new contracts in Chicago and St. Paul, and a new president for the Vancouver Symphony. Here are stories we're following...

Canadian symphonic news

The Toronto Symphony has created a new position, Vice-President for Innovation, and appointed Adrian FungMusical Toronto reports. A founding member of the award-winning Afiara Quartet, Fung will work with the TSO's outreach and education and in fostering new collaborations.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and other "pillar cultural groups" in the region may receive increased municipal support over the next few years, as the city council endorsed a consultant's recommendations, the Region Record reports. Possible increases are yet to be set; support will at least maintain at current levels. 

Symphony Nova Scotia benefitted from increased ticket sales, donations, and outreach activities, as well as a funding increase from the municipality of Halifax in 2014-15, the Chronicle Herald reports. The Symphony finished with a small deficit, attributable to weather cancellations and a decrease in Canada Council funding. 
The National Arts Centre's annual gala set a fundraising record at just over $1 million, the Ottawa Citizen reports. This gala was the first for new NACO music director Alexander Shelley, and also featured pianist Lang Lang. 
Kelly Tweeddale will take over as Vancouver Symphony president in November, the Sun reports. Tweeddale has served as Seattle Opera's executive director for 13 years, overseeing successful social media and fundraising initiatives. 
And 20 young Canadian string players faced difficult decisions between priceless instruments,  after winning the 2015 Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank Competition, as the National Post reports
Making news elsewhere
The Chicago Symphony ratified a 3-year contract including wage and pension increases and greater scheduling flexibility, the Chicago Tribune reports. This was the first CSO negotiation led by President Jeff Alexander, formerly of the Vancouver Symphony
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra signed a two-year contract extension with musicians, the first since the orchestra's 6-month lockout in 2012-13, the Star Tribune reports. The deal includes raises for lower-paid musicians in both years, while principal players will receive raises only in the second year. 
The Pittsburgh Symphony's 2015 summer season was pronounced a success, the Tribune-Review reports, with increased attendance at more concerts, including a new Thursday Night Icons Series and strong pops programming. 
Compiled by Matt Heller, OCSM 1st VP. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM on Facebook, or tweet us @ocsm-omosc.

Highlights from the 2015 OCSM Conference in Windsor

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More information about many of the items and presentations listed here are available from your OCSM Delegate on request. Thank you for reading!


  1. 40th Anniversary Conference dedicated to Jim Biros. OCSM held its first-ever Conference in 1975. This year, we remembered the former Executive Director of the Toronto Musicians Association, a great friend to all musicians and an active participant in many OCSM Conferences. Jim passed away last September; he will be missed.

  2. Unity Day with Canadian Conference. In a tradition Jim helped revive, Saturday was devoted to joint sessions with CanCon, the Conference of CFM Locals. The day included round table discussions, AFM officer reports, and a detailed presentation from the Musicians’ Pension Fund of Canada.

  3. Spotlight on Windsor and Detroit. This was OCSM’s first conference held in Windsor; we benefitted from a tour of the historic Capitol Theatre home of the WSO. We also heard presentations on the Detroit Symphony’s recovery from DSO Committee Chair (and Windsor resident) Haden McKay; and on Classical Revolution Detroit, from former DSO bassist Rick Robinson.

  4. Update from London: #WePlayOn. Thea Boyd, a former Orchestra London musician, reported on her colleagues’ efforts to present concerts, campaign for public support, and form a newly branded orchestra, currently known by its hashtag, #WePlayOn.

  5. Communications workshop with Randall Whatley, who shared successful media strategies used by many US orchestras, and encouraged Canadian orchestra Musicians’ Associations to establish their own website and social media presences.

  6. Musicians’ health workshop with Christine Guptill, who spoke about the Musicians’ Clinics of Canada and OCSM’s key role in getting it established. She also shared research on hearing protection, injury prevention, and other issues facing musicians.

  7. “Bargaining in the new new new economy.” OCSM Legal Counsel Michael Wright’s presentation addressed some economic arguments frequently heard in negotiations, with strategies for effectively responding.

  8. New and revised Media Guidelines. The OCSM Media Committee developed a new set of guidelines for studio recordings, and revised the existing guidelines for streaming of concert performances. Both documents are being finalized, and will be made available following CFM approval.

  9. Wage charts moving online. SSD Communications and Data Coordinator Laurence Hoffman introduced Delegates to the new entry system, and demonstrated how the information can be accessed and searched through a password-protected portal in the AFM website, wagechart.afm.org.

  10. Advocacy as Federal election approaches. Orchestras Canada Executive Director Katherine Carleton gave an overview of the symphonic sector’s advocacy materials and goals, as well as recent policy signals from the Canada Council.

  11. 2016 Conference to be held in Calgary. The Conference Committee recommended a site “in or around” Calgary, which OCSM last visited in 2000; dates are still TBD. They also put forward Ottawa as a tentative site for 2017.

Orchestra Digest: Sept. 25th

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This week: Yannick at the Met, Syria's symphonic exiles, LA Phil groupies in Tokyo, and more. Here are stories we're following....
Business news and beyond
The Metropolitan Opera is back in the black, posting a $1 million surplus last season after finishing 2013-14 with a $22 million deficit, the Wall Street Journal reports. Attendance actually fell slightly, however; the NY Times interviewed general manager Peter Gelb on some ways the Met hopes to reverse that trend. 
As the New York Philharmonic opened its season, and officially renamed David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher), they also announced a record donation: $25 million from board chair Oscar Schafer and his wife, Didi. The gift will go towards the renovation, strengthening the endowment, and supporting free park concerts, the NY Times reports.
With the Hartford Symphony scheduled to open its season next Thursday, WNPR music critic Steve Metcalf answered two questions many are asking: Will the concerts go on as planned? And what can concerned people do to help? For those who can't afford to write a big cheque, letters to key leaders could also make a difference. 
The Philadelphia Orchestra is in "play and talk", as their contract expired on Sept. 13th, the Inquirer reports. The most recent contract in 2011 included steep cuts in pay and orchestra size, which musicians are hoping to restore. 
A new orchestra of exiled Syrian musicians, the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra, performed its first concert in Bremen this week, Deutsche Welle reports. Most of the orchestra's 30 musicians are refugees, and come together from all over Europe to rehearse and perform in Germany. 
And Bloomberg News followed the Los Angeles Philharmonic on tour to Japan, along with some of their "groupies" - 17 patrons who joined the tour, socializing with and cheerleading for their favourite orchestra. 
People making headlines
While rehearsing for the Metropolitan Opera's opening performances, Montreal's Yannick Nézet-Séguin extended his contract as principal conductor and artistic director of Orchestre Métropolitain, through the 2020-21 season. The Montreal Gazette followed the conductor's busy week, posting a profile, as well as coverage of the contract extension and a career timeline.
The news that Edwin Outwater will leave the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony after next season prompted Waterloo Record columnist (and chorister) Sally D'Amato to write an appreciation of his innovative yet entertaining approach.
Businessman Ronald O. Perelman, who became Carnegie Hall's board chairman earlier this year, will step down next month, the NY Times reports. The move came after he suspended Carnegie executive director Clive Gillinson, citing a "troubling lack of transparency" and governance problems, which other board members denied.  
The San Francisco Opera appointed Matthew Shilvock as its next General Director, KQED reports. Shilvock has served as SF Opera's Associate General Director since 2010, under David Gockley. 
And in a recent piece, New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross writes that rumours of the symphony's demise have been greatly exaggerated. He looks at several of the form's more modern practitioners, from Sibelius to Robert Simpson. 

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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