Friday, March 28, 2008

The Canadian Music Centre's Press Release on the CBC Radio Orchestra Elimination

Here is the complete text of the Canadian Music Centre's press release in response to Thursday's axing of the CBC Radio Orchestra:

Canadian Music Centre and Canadian League of Composers Shocked By Decision to Disband CBC Radio Orchestra

March 28, 2008, Toronto, ON – Today, the Canadian Music Centre and the Canadian League of Composers are trying to come to terms with the CBC Radio’s decision to disband its orchestra – the last radio orchestra still functioning in North America. This announcement, made privately yesterday in Vancouver with less than a 24 hour notice to the orchestra’s musicians, has left much of the Canadian musical community questioning the broadcaster’s commitment to both classical music and its own broader cultural mandate.

Elisabeth Bihl, CMC Executive Director, believes that “the decision to disband the CBC Radio Orchestra must have been a decision made with little to no input from the Canadian public or our music community. The orchestra may have been around for some 70 years - but since when is longevity equated automatically with having already served its purpose?”

She further states that “the need for CBC Radio to fulfill its mandate to showcase Canadian talent has not evaporated with time. If CBC management can simply destroy such a vitally important infrastructure for Canadian talent, then it must be held publicly accountable. As a government funded institution, it must see beyond its immediate actions of budget cutting and pursue its mandated cultural role – for the benefit of all Canadians.”

Jennifer McGuire, Executive Director of CBC English Radio, indicated yesterday that the money “saved” as a result of this decision will be used more efficiently by spending it on other Radio 2 musical programs. While also asserting that CBC Radio was still committed to innovative and creative Canadian music, she made no concrete indication that this funding would be used to directly support future classical music programming.

As organizations focused on the promotion of Canadian composers and their work, the Canadian Music Centre and Canadian League of Composers see this most recent CBC Radio announcement as yet another in a series of decisions made without input from the communities to which the broadcaster is ultimately accountable – both its listeners and the broader Canadian public. James Rolfe, President of the Canadian League of Composers, stated: “This is one of Canada’s finest and most-loved orchestras. It has served as a showcase and launching pad for our best composers (for example, Claude Vivier), conductors (Yannick Nezet-S├ęguin), and performers. The CLC deplores this short-sighted measure, which diminishes the cultural life of all of Canada, and makes a mockery of the CBC’s own mandate to promote Canadian culture.”

Ms. Bihl feels that the following statement made today (via e-mail) by Sarah Davis Buechner, a piano professor at the University, all too accurately sums up this situation: "It is a sad day in the history of this country when artists have to stand up to defend their contributions against the very institutions which were founded to foster cultural understanding, emotional connection and pride in the Canadian national character."

Established in 1959, the Canadian Music Centre exists to stimulate the awareness, appreciation and performance of Canadian music, making the music of its Associate Composers available through its music libraries and through various promotional and outreach activities. The CMC is Canada’s primary information resource, producer, distributor of concert music and sound recordings.

Founded in 1951, the Canadian League of Composers is the oldest organization in Canada that speaks for professional composers in an official capacity. It represents the interests of composers, monitoring and influencing the conditions that affect their livelihood and public image.

For further information, please contact:

Steven W. Foster,Manager of Communications & Resource Development

Phone: 416.961.6601 ext. 303 Email: sfoster [at] musiccentre dot ca

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