Thursday, March 27, 2008

RIP CBC Radio Orchestra

The Globe and Mail has confirmed that at the end of November 2008, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will disband Vancouver's CBC Radio Orchestra, North America's last radio orchestra.

CBC spokesperson Jeff Keay on the CBC's decision:

Basically the orchestra was currently doing like eight concerts a year and for the money that we're spending, we can't afford to do that to get just eight concerts a year.

Update 9:51pm EDT

In response to the announced disbandment of the orchestra, The Transcontinental is calling for a boycott of the CBC:

Classical musicians forget about the CBC as a broadcast platform. It seems that the only alternative is to build something out of the CBC's ashes, perhaps something akin to the local public broadcasting of orchestra concerts that happen across the US - the Minnesota Orchestra has it own radio program. Given the CBC's abandoning of high culture, why should the major Canadian orchestras rely on the CBC, when the CBC has just told Canadian orchestras that it will sacrifice professional musicians to pay for another episode of Air Farce?

Update 10:30pm EDT

BigSnit writes about How to Kill 70 Years of Tradition and Smile About It:

At one point, apparently forgetting this wasn’t a training exercise, exec Jennifer McGuire fell into spin-training-speak and said “the Radio two story is a good story“. (This from the same people who recently suggested that pulling shows produced in Vancouver was somehow a net gain for British Columbia. Clearly they’re working with different math than rest of us). I’m sure Jennifer’s laughter and in-joke about people not liking change made the musicians feel wonderful.

The saddest part of the orchestra's demise:

The reality of this move is that it will cause irrevocable harm to the classical music community in Vancouver. Here’s why: less money being spent hiring musicians means fewer musicians will be around to play.

Indeed. That is why so many musicians (including myself) have already left Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, for other places.

Update 3/28

Here are links to more articles that have appeared in the last few hours.

Marsha Lederman's second article on the story in the Globe and Mail focuses on reactions from Vancouver's musical community. Violist Andrew Brown's comment after the fateful meeting:

It is a travesty that this decision has been made. It's a travesty that the government continues to cut the funding to the CBC. But it is also a travesty that bureaucrats that occupy the top echelons of radio don't have the guts to stand up for this orchestra.

Lloyd Dykk in the National Post article, surprisingly honest under the circumstances
We're Not Wired Right sums on the end result of the cuts:

The Canadian classical musical scene just got a little more homogeneous.


A Canadian Press article details many musical luminaries' extremely negative words on the actions of the CBC.


The Transcontinental asks whether the CBC's actions really constitute a "disbandment":

To say in the headline that the orchestra is disbanding implies some kind of collective action on the part of the musicians, and not an executive decision to slowly replace orchestral music on CBC with whatever's cheaper.

Still looking for news articles and blog reactions in favor of the cuts. Can't find any so far (except for the Inside the CBC article). However, there is one anonymous comment from yesterday in favor of the cuts:

A radio station should not be funding an orchestra from tax payer dollars. Virtually every other radio station has long since stopped that. There are, however, many other existing classical music groups, orchestras etc. that they could and SHOULD be broadcasting - a far better use of funds, IMO.

Perhaps a CBC executive visited the CPB and left a kind note.

Another recent find via Facebook: following the announcement of the cuts, Colin Miles, BC Regional Director of the Canadian Music Centre, spoke very bluntly and passionately about the situation on this video clip.

Update 3/29

Stephen Rees posted a letter template on his blog that you can send to your MP to protest the cuts.

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