CBC Radio Orchestra

April 2, 2008 at 06:41 AM · Hello everyone,

As some of you may already know, it was announced last week that the CBC radio orchestra, about to embark on it's 70th concert season is being dismantled due to the funding cuts from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It has prompted a huge amount of outcry here in Canada as it is considered somewhat of a national icon. Today, UBC school of music cancelled classes so that the students could attend a protest that took place at the CBC station in downtown Vancouver.


We got a fair bit of media attention but we need more help!!

If you all would take the time to sign the petition to save the CBC radio orchestra that would be fantastic!


you can read more about the protest (along with images and videos) and the orchestra and it's current situation on facebook at the following address: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10103441879

Replies (42)

April 2, 2008 at 06:20 PM · Kesley, thanks so much for posting this thread and calling for help. I’d say our v.commies are too busy to debate instead of taking immediate action though. Or maybe Canada is just too remote...

April 2, 2008 at 06:49 PM · it is understandable that both of you are quite upset with the development. i would like to know more about it.

1. the parent company of the orchestra decides to disband the orchestra because of specifically what? in other words, is it because the parent company decides to cut, or is it because the parent company's funding for the orchestra from another source has been cut?

2. do the protestors have any plan B or C in place? is this a situation where the parent company decides to cut loss and walk away from it and the protestors suggest,,,stay? funding from previous years came from where? are the protestors trying to ask canadian govt to step in to provide the funding?

April 2, 2008 at 06:43 PM · Hi Kelsey,

I've been trying to decide what to say about this topic for a while. I lived and worked in Vancouver for a year, and was actually on the lists for the CBC orchestra, as well as subbing regularly with the VSO and other local orchestras/ensembles. I'm not going to make myself very popular by saying this, but I'll put it out there in the spirit of honesty. I left Canada because I didn't see any hope for classical music. In the year I played there, the Vancouver Symphony (the major orchestra in a city of close to two million people) couldn't afford to hold auditions to replace their retiring players. They had to cancel weeks of services because there was no money left. After Easter, the budget no longer allowed for string subs. They're since doing better, I've been told, but this was a pretty horrific situation for someone fresh out of school.

I'm glad people are fighting for the CBC orchestra - I'm on their side, 100%. But I think I've given up, as horrible as it sounds. In Germany, orchestras are also being cut - jobs are disappearing. Mischa wrote a very informative post in the 'future of classical music' thread (the first one) on the state of the orchestra landscape here. But here, it isn't too late - the traditions are stronger. There's still something worth fighting for, and a chance to save it. In Canada, I don't know if we've already crossed the point of no return. It's odd - I'm actually very passionate about orchestras and the future of my profession, and I do see it as something worth fighting tooth and nail for, but I don't know how to rally the troops here at all.

Not very positive, I know. That's something I've been forced to confront over the past few days, and I'm still not sure what my answer is. Still, it's something to mull over, and maybe the discussion will help me figure out what makes me feel this way.

April 2, 2008 at 06:59 PM · Do they audition behind a screen so that auditions are fair to all musicians whose taxes support it? There's at least one mother, father, and son from the same family in it.

April 2, 2008 at 07:16 PM · I am totally unfamiliar with Canada's orchestra situation. How many major ones are there?

April 2, 2008 at 07:15 PM · Al,

The disbanding of the CBC Orchestra is only part of what's going on with classical music in Canada at the moment. In recent weeks, the CBC has also announced substantial cuts to classical programming and content at Radio Two. Here's

the facebook group that's collecting information on the entire situation. Lots of links to Canadian newspaper articles.

CBC Radio Two has brought us some fantastic programming over the years: concert broadcasts, programs dedicated to classical recordings. In particular, I remember a series Pinchas Zukerman did on the violin concerto. Each program consisted of him discussing the concerto live, with musical examples played by him in the studio , and recorded performances. Some of the best classical programming I've come across anywhere.

Without classical music at the CBC, many Canadians may no longer have any exposure to it at all.

April 2, 2008 at 07:24 PM · thanks megan. somehow i feel that the protest directed at the the parent company may not be very effective because it is still a free market place in which people are allowed to do things not necessarily of great taste, style, conscience, or even ethics, as long as it is lawful. is the parent company a public traded company with shareholders? if so, may need to exert influence to the major shareholders.

imo, the protest should be directed more at the canadian govt for more funding/subsidy.

April 2, 2008 at 07:33 PM · Al,

The CBC is public radio. Nationally-funded, allegedly non-partisan. The money comes from the government.

April 2, 2008 at 07:34 PM · The 'parent company' IS the Canadien Government.

April 2, 2008 at 07:34 PM · Tom, that's a good question, and I'm not the best one to answer it, unfortunately. All depends what you consider to be major. For me, a major orchestra is one that a) provides me with enough work for me to subsist off my salary from it alone, b) plays a full season, and c) has acquired a reputation that puts it on a high level nationally, if not internationally.

April 2, 2008 at 07:51 PM · Megan - using your definition of a major orch, what is the situation in Canada?

April 2, 2008 at 07:57 PM · Some major orchestra's in Canada include:







April 2, 2008 at 07:59 PM · I don't really know. Obviously Toronto and Montreal stick out. You can make a case for Vancouver and the National Arts Center Orchestra, I suppose. Quebec City? Winnipeg? I really don't feel able to determine this - maybe some of our members who are more active in Canadian orchestras could help us out.

April 2, 2008 at 08:06 PM · Let me add to my definition. A full-time major symphony orchestra has to employ a core that is capable of playing major symphonic works. This means at least four horns, three trumpets, three trombones. In my opinion, it should include a string section of at least 14-12-10-8-6, but that's pushing it for Canada.

April 2, 2008 at 08:23 PM · Many Canadiens continually deride CBC Radio because it is TOTALLY funded by taxpayer money.

CBC is a Canadien Institution that is downsizing--like many others.

History in the States and Canada tells us repeatedly that in such a situation,music and the arts are the first to become gleaned.

Pity !!!

April 2, 2008 at 11:56 PM · Yes it is Joe.Look at my orchestra in the last year(Kitchener Waterloo Symphony).We had to launch a "save our symphony" campaign and needed to raise 2.5 million within a month or we were bankrupt.Im not sure how we're doing now.Lets hope we can ride this one out...

April 3, 2008 at 02:55 AM · Wow, away for the day things are going! Clearly I was wrong about you guys:)

A big thank you to Megan! You are better at answering some of the tough questions than I’m able.

Al, haha, why would anyone reveal our plan B and C at this point?;) But just to update, mass email messages were sent to the politicians and decision makers last weekend, and other events have been planed country-wide, including a National Day of Action called "Raise a Ruckus for Radio Two" will be held on Friday the 11th across Canada. Here are some stats, with weeks, “Save Classical Music at the CBC” has gained more than 11,300 members, 4 board topics and 59 wall posts. A different group called “Save the CBC Radio Orchestra!” has attracted over 4600 people in 4 days. Sorry I’m not very good reporter but you get the idea.

I don’t know if you folks are able to access to facebook. Would it be useful for me to cut and paste some of the news posted there to keep you updated?

Again, thanks for being there for us and for classical music during such trying time!

April 3, 2008 at 03:01 AM · @Yixi

"I’d say our v.commies are too busy to debate instead of taking immediate action though."

I take issue with this statement. In fact I find it almost offensive.

Why? Because as a European living in Japan and having no cultural ties to Canada whatsoever, what good could it possibly do if I petition the Canadian government to continue to subsidise a government funded orchestra?! The Canadian government will only listen to people who vote and people who pay taxes in Canada.

In fact, if you don't live in Canada and don't have any cultural ties to Canada, you may be doing the folks who try to rescue this orchestra more harm than good by getting involved. An internet spawned flood of foreign petitioners without cultural ties to Canada is very likely to weaken the entire petition, because the decision makers can very easily dismiss it altogether by saying "Yes, we've had a massive petition from the public, but this originated overseas through some viral internet campaign, the overwhelming majority of respondents being foreigners without residence in Canada, neither paying taxes nor having voting rights in Canada."

Thus, I chose not to petition the Canadian government. I would probably have if I was living there, though. I am sure the same holds true for many others on this forum who also don't have any ties to Canada. Therefore, I find your criticism inappropriate.

April 3, 2008 at 05:42 AM · Hey Benjamin, so I got you going too, eh? You really think saving classical music can only be a national or regional effort? Since when classical music has national boundary? I have to say, your argument against supporting Canadian classical music is very cute, and it’s so far-fetched that I can only imagine you were joking or trying to provoke more arguments which I’m just delighted to see.

Doing nothing means accept defeat, that’s not an option. We are of no choice but to act and to call for whatever help we can get worldwide. Whether the Canadian government will listen to voters and tax payers on this particular matter is something we shall see. One thing I do believe is that, the Canadian government and important decision-makers can’t afford to completely ignore what the world thinks about their action, whether the action is organized locally (which is the case here) or elsewhere. Each person’s effort counts even though we don’t know where the tipping point is. Should you change your mind and decide to join the petition, your contribution to classical music will certainly be appreciated by Canada. More importantly, taking a concrete step towards saving classical music, an extraordinary part of intellectual history, may just be itself a great reward, no?

April 3, 2008 at 05:57 AM · Oh, Yixi

I Love You !

April 3, 2008 at 05:51 AM · I maintain that the Canadian government will not give a rat's bottom about a non-Canadian who lives in Japan and has never even been to Canada. No matter what I do, it will not have any effect whatsoever on what the Canadian government will do in this matter. Anybody suggesting anything to the contrary is kidding themselves.

If I do run into a Canadian over here I am happy to mention the issue to them and suggest they may want to take an interest in it and take whatever action they see fit. That's about as much as I am able to support this effort REALISTICALLY.

It is also offensive to suggest that because of this position, I am reluctant or unwilling to promote classical music. I am doing quite a lot to promote classical music and I do so quite actively. I just happen to do that locally in the places where I actually happen to be and with people that I can actually influence.

As Al said in a recent post: Think globally, act locally.

April 3, 2008 at 06:32 AM · Benjamin:

Please speak kindly of Canada in your future posts...

Canadiens are extremely cool,except in nullifying the Radio 2 CBC orchestra.

April 3, 2008 at 06:51 AM · For a well-educated and well-traveled intelligent man, Benjamin, you are awful easily offended -- not good for the violin playing, I must say:)... No offence intended.

Let me put it this way, do you really believe I would even bother to say anything about CBC here if I didn’t already know that v.commies are the ones who care, are willing and may already be doing their bit to promote classical music?

Joe, if you ever visit here, I'll buy you a case of Molson Canadian, chilled:)

April 3, 2008 at 06:53 AM · I have absolutely no gripes with Canada, nor any Canadians, nor the Canadian government, nor the fact that somebody is asking for support in this matter on this site. In fact I do wish them well and hope they can work this out and keep the orchestra going, What I did object to was the indiscriminate criticism that suggested those people who continued to discuss other items without making their voices heard in this particular issue were all talk and no walk, especially considering that many on this forum do not live in Canada nor have any ties to Canada. I think that particular rhetoric was misplaced.

April 3, 2008 at 07:27 AM · Obviously it’s not that misplaced since we have your Honour’s due attention to this matter:)

April 3, 2008 at 07:15 AM · My heart continues to thrive in Canada.

Canada is clean and lovely,let

NO ONE take Canada down-even in the slightest bit !!!

CBC radio 1 and 2 RULE in a world wide

situation of entertainment.

So,let us keep on keepin on in the spirit of Canada and the spirit of the very finest music the world has to offer.

To shut down CBC Radio 2 is not only a crime against Canadiens;it's a crime for our entire planet.

Most days,Canadiens seem to do a splendid job,fufilling the world with the very finest of entertainment--in their own special way !

Canada's Radio 2 Orchestra is,and has been,the very voice of the best of music for the world to enjoy on a daily basis.

Each musical omission from any station is a statement of the global sphere of a mal-content supplier of entertainment.

As much as Canadiens complain about CBC Radio & TV------it's a very dear chapter to,not only Canadiens,it's a chapter to our world.

AND IT IS GOOD and Canadiens are the BEST !

Music rings in the souls

let it not be torn asunder in order to show a profit on a ledger sheet !

April 3, 2008 at 08:41 AM · My attention to this matter means absolutely nothing. It won't change a thing whatever I think or do. At the same time, as you said you are a resident of Canada, you could instead have used your effort to contact your local parlamentarian or similar, in other words, act locally. That would by far be more likely to get results than indiscriminate criticism of people who are far out of reach and who have no influence over the matter.

Also, I do not believe the philosophy that the ends justify the means is a good one to subscribe to.

April 3, 2008 at 09:38 AM · Okay, guys, I'm glad to see we all like fighting about whose resposibility it is to protest and why. I'd like to put the discussion on a more productive track. Some questions:

1. What is the place of a radio orchestra in this day and age? There are radio orchestras in many countries: Germany, Holland, Austria spring to mind in particular. The NBC symphony is now defunct. Do we still need orchestras linked to our broadcasters? What do/should they do that other orchestras can't?

2. Should culture (and radio broadcasting in particular) reflect popular tastes, and how far? How much is the radio responsible for exposing people to different aspects of culture/life/music?

3. Do you listen to the radio? Did you grow up listening to it? What were programs that shaped you?

4. How do business and the arts interplay? Can something like public radio or classical music remain apart from a capitalist economy?

5. What makes an orchestra's identity? Is it the players themselves? The label they play under or the organisation they represent? The repertoire they play?

I have a lot of thoughts on these questions, but I'll throw them out there for general comments first.

April 3, 2008 at 10:04 AM · Hi,

my letter to Mr. Steinmetz is on its way

with great regret I have heard the news that North America’s last radio orchestra has been dismantled in its 70th year, seemingly for so-called economic reasons.

Though I’ve not yet visited Canada, I have several Canadian friends and my impression of Canada has always been positive: a huge country with a multi-lingual and multi-cultural population of friendly people and a benign force in world politics.

Scrapping an important piece of the cultural mosaic, namely the CBC Radio Orchestra somehow does not fit the picture. While maple syrup, outstanding hockey players and superb fiddlers sure are and remain great assets, giving up a major classical music institution is beyond sad.

Have a look at Bruno Monsaingeons movie “Yehudi Menuhin – The Violin of the Century” and the scene where Yehudi plays with and for Jean Carignan and you will be convinced that Canada needs both the fiddle and the violin.


  1. What is the place of a radio orchestra in this day and age? There are radio orchestras in many countries: Germany, Holland, Austria spring to mind in particular. The NBC symphony is now defunct. Do we still need orchestras linked to our broadcasters? What do/should they do that other orchestras can't?

    ...happily, there are radio orchestras not just in Germany, but rather in the German states: Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and so on and so forth. On the Internet, there is constant skirmish between companies that have the content and companies that have the customer reach. What luckier combination than a broadcast company and their radio orchestra?

    What can the radio orchestra do that others can't/won't: Play what is required be the network to delight/enlighten their audience.

  2. Should culture (and radio broadcasting in particular) reflect popular tastes, and how far? How much is the radio responsible for exposing people to different aspects of culture/life/music?

    ...shouldn't the question be how much "public taste" is created by the networks? If there's nothing but whodunits on TV does this mean that there's only demand for whodunits or that the supply of other programs is too small?

  3. Do you listen to the radio? Did you grow up listening to it? What were programs that shaped you?

    ...I listen every day to the radio (and in Germany, you have to pay for that) - but I don't have a TV. I grew up listening to it and - for better or worse ;-) - learned much of my American by listening to AFN.

  4. How do business and the arts interplay? Can something like public radio or classical music remain apart from a capitalist economy?

    ...currently, the little colorful pieces of paper seem the only thing that interests people. However, if we want to remain human instead of being turned into flesh and blood robots, we should use our power as consumers and put our money where our mouth is. That "classical" music will probably never be the biggest market segment is another question, but there will always be enough fans to keep the fire burning if they go to concerts, buy records and write to their radio/tv station - the squeaking wheel gets the grease.

  5. What makes an orchestra's identity? Is it the players themselves? The label they play under or the organisation they represent? The repertoire they play?

    ...to me, an orchestra - like every group - is a living entity with its own code of conduct, behavior etc. CSO, CBC Radio or the Bamberg Symphony Orcherstra all have their own musical identity formed by decades of tradition. They offer a high amount of talent and skill to conductors and composers to reach a common goal.

April 3, 2008 at 10:09 AM · @Megan

"Do we still need orchestras linked to our broadcasters? What do/should they do that other orchestras can't?"

I think the issue is the dismantling of a classical orchestra which is most regrettable. The fact that the orchestra in question happens to be linked to a broadcaster would seem to be secondary.

For example, if the orchestra could somehow be kept going by decoupling it from the broadcaster and let it continue in some other form, I don't think this would be a serious issue then, if any issue at all.

April 3, 2008 at 12:12 PM · I think you have it backward. If it was the Ft. Wayne symphony nobody would give a hoot. It's the romance of this orchestra, combined with a little bit of threat.

Does anybody remember when the evening news on NBC had Beethoven for its theme music? Times do change. If you think about it, there wasn't really much other music suitable for it. The music they use now for it hadn't even been invented. And the wires in your TV were covered with cloth instead of plastic. Get your head around that. And we were told Walter Cronkite over on CBS was named "the most trusted man in America" in some kind of poll, and I remember thinking yeah he really is. The news would start with Beethoven and end with how many casualties in Vietnam that day. We would wait for those numbers to be flashed up, and be like Alriiiight we're winning this ball game! lol Or ooooh we had a bad day. So this is for Roy, the music he was talking about came about naturally and legitimately as the result of some phenomenal circumstances. And it's probably fair to call it the culmination of all the sounds and reasons for being of American music up to that point in time, and it's popularity probably owes a lot to that inclusiveness. The rest of the world still can't play rock and roll. Except for the British of course. Don't know what's up with that.

April 3, 2008 at 11:22 AM · Jim, why would anybody care if the orchestra continues to be linked to the broadcaster as long as it can continue to exist? Is the issue here that the broadcaster "should" have an orchestra? or is the issue to keep this particular orchestra going? I presume it is the latter, and if that is so, then it should not matter much whether or not it is linked to the broadcaster. On the other hand, if it is not the latter, then it shouldn't matter which orchestra, anything will do as long as it is under the umbrella of the broadcaster, I don't think that is what you had in mind though.

April 3, 2008 at 11:55 AM · Ben, there are probably orchestras in Canada that play eight concerts a year going under, and being formed every month. This one had a history. At this point in the process, it looks like it has a life of its own, so sure going on by itself would suit most supporters. Especially its musicians.

April 3, 2008 at 11:59 AM · So? Maybe the government has a problem with the CBC budget. Maybe they could more easily fund the orchestra as -say- Canadian National Orchestra under a different budget. You'd be surprised how often such issues can be resolved by simply moving items from one budget into another, happens all the time. Now, if that is so, then you could imagine that this very same orchestra with the very same musicians and the very same heritage, could perhaps be saved by moving it out of the broadcasting realm.

The question Megan raised (one of them) was whether it makes sense for a broadcaster to have their own orchestra. I felt that this kind of argumentation risks the orchestra being sacrificed simply because of a change in broadcasting policy, whilst the orchestra itself, as you have pointed out has a right and reason to exist due to its history and status, regardless of whether they are part of the broadcaster or not. Hence my response that the focus should probably be on the orchestra for its own sake and not so much whether or not the broadcaster deserves its own orchestra. It may well be the broadcaster doesn't deserve its own orchestra while at the same time this orchestra deserves to be funded anyway, in which case coupling the two causes a problem.

April 3, 2008 at 01:29 PM · yixi, great work! since now i understand it is a govt funded group, may be it is time to think in the other direction,,,how about Molson National Orchestra--we strive to intoxicate with classical music:):):). or may be you guys can partition for help from bush and cheney,,,they have been known to think out of the box and the usa:).

with govt budget, as least in the US, what money you have to spend is often decided in the preceding year or years, so the chance of govt money reappearing may be slim. protests can't hurt, but the focus needs to land on the trigger point. i am not sure it is easy to locate that trigger point because people tend to point fingers and say: it is not my problem or such.

on the other hand, with the media hype created through protest and your connection to sensei ben in japan:), hopefully some savvy corporate sponsors may be enticed to step in as a knight on a white horse. often, those canadian equivalent of congressmen/senators sleep in the same bed with corporate people, so they can really help to make connections if you guys know how/who to pursue with your plan B and C. shhhhh.

ps. here is prediction: yixi is thinking of quitting her day job to run for office!

April 3, 2008 at 03:13 PM · Two years ago some politicians threatened broadcasting companies (and esp. their orchestras) here with drastic austerity measures. Our orchestra union (Deutsche Orchestervereinigung) published a thesis as a reaction. The numbers are interesting, we have:

* 14 broadcasting orchestras

* 4 broadcasting Big Bands

* 7 broadcasting choirs

The costs for these orchestras per fee payer were 36 Cents/month. And salary, conditions of work etc. of these orchestras are simply great. Just 36 Cents! Since the system seems to be different to Canada (extra-fees instead of taxes, whereby more people pay taxes than these fees here), it’s difficult to extrapolate, but even if you just choose the rough calculation with

25 broadcasting ensembles <--> 80 millions people --> 36 Cents

1 broadcasting ensemble <--> 33 millions people --> ? Cents

No matter how much it is, the systems must be comparable in a way. it must be fairly less expenses that will be saved, compared to the classic areas with savings potential (administration for instance).

I’m not in fond of that GEZ-system, but after the last 50 years these orchestras left a real treasure of modern music recordings. It’s a two-edged sword - whether a manager or a WDR managing editor decides what has to be played or which composer gets an assignment to compose a piece, does not make a difference for me as a consumer technically. But concerning music, independence, innovation and complexity it makes the system almost priceless.

Since Canada is the second largest country in the world and therefore it’s incredibly difficult to radiate classical music, it’s really sad to see a station with such a great program go (check out this as an appetizer)!

My answers for your little survey, Megan, can be found in that little pdf, no need to paraphrase here... ;)

April 4, 2008 at 04:43 AM · 25 broadcasting ensembles <--> 80 millions people --> 36 Cents/mo.

Mischa, friend, that works out to a budget of 14 million dollars for each. Maybe you should have a protest of your own :)

April 4, 2008 at 07:36 AM · Hi Mischa,

thanks for the informative links and the little eye-opening calculation.

Since not all of our citizens pay (or have to pay) the radio fee, it'll probably be a little more than 0,36 EUR but it still goes to show how low the cost actually is compared to what is being spent on weapons, cars, computers and other mundane what-nots.

Greetings to Cologne, Jürgen

April 4, 2008 at 09:07 AM · Well, there are pros and cons when it comes to funding things via broadcasting fees. Especially since those fees are like taxes, you have to pay them even if you don't want to listen to the public radio stations. This makes more and more people object to such fees. Here in Japan there is now a large number of people who refuse to pay for the government owned public broadcaster NHK and the government doesn't seem to be very keen on enforcement because it might cause a backlash against the very concept of government owned broadcasting.

Many Japanese today say, "I watch only the satellite channels for which I pay, I don't watch NHK, so I don't want to pay for it". If it ever came to the point where NHK would have to disband their symphony orchestra because they can no longer afford it, you'd probably find that even those who refuse to pay the NHK fees would be in favour of public funding for the NHK orchestra. In that case it would probably be better to turn the orchestra into a National Orchestra and fund it straight out of the tax pot.

Its not like people can select which items they want to pay for, for example ...



[x] news and political features 5.00 EUR

[x] radio symphony orchestra 0.36 EUR

[ ] soap operas 6.50 EUR

[ ] sports 3.50 EUR




April 6, 2008 at 01:47 AM · Thank you all for your contribution to the discuttion!

I did write more than once to the politicians and the media to complain, and again I ask my dear friends to take only 1 minute to sign a petition opposing CBC's decision to eliminate the radio orchestra:


Thanks, Al for your kindness and the fun posts. I'll keep my day job, which kept me so busy last a couple of days that I didn't have the time to visit here!

April 8, 2008 at 04:43 PM · I've just read an article by Chris Butterfield, a Canadian composer and professor at the University of Victoria, on the proposed cuts to Radio Two and by extension the axing of the CBC Orchestra. It's a very articulate response to the question raised in the thread about why non-Canadians should care. This is the link.

April 8, 2008 at 10:51 PM · Thanks Megan for the article. Interesting read!

I'm forwarding the latest news release I've received from the group "Save Classical Music at the CBC" to those who are interested in knowing what's happening the next:


April 7TH, 2008


On Friday, April 11th, 2008 at 12:00pm Eastern Time, the 12,500 strong members of a hastily arranged Facebook group entitled “Save Classical Music at the CBC” will be holding a NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION called “RAISE A RUCKUS FOR RADIO TWO!” in over a dozen cities across Canada.

In response to recently announced programming changes at CBC Radio Two and the planned axing of the famed CBC Vancouver Radio Orchestra, classical music fans, musicians and Radio Two listeners are planning to take to the streets in front of their local CBC installations in every province simultaneously. Demonstrations are to be held at CBC facilities in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, London, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John’s; with possible demonstrations to be held in Regina, Kingston, ON, and Saint John, NB as well.

Disappointment with the planned changes has been swiftly building and increasingly vocal since the CBC’s announcement of March 4th, where top executives including Richard Stursberg - head of CBC English services, Jennifer McGuire – head of CBC radio, and Mark Steinmetz – director of radio programming divulged that CBC Radio Two’s 40 year tradition as a primarily classical music broadcaster would be coming to a close. Weekday classical music programming is to be cut from 12 hours daily to 5 off-peak hours leading to the cancellation of many popular shows. Though listeners realize that shows and hosts come and go, most of the quality programming is to be replaced with pop music with sprinklings of light jazz and world music. Classical music fans and musicians feel as though they have lost a trusted and beloved member of the family – they feel like they are being punished for CBC’s inability to stay true to its historical mandate and CBC’s unwillingness to expand

conventional broadcast services to include more diverse genres and programming.

Since coming into power, the current team of Programming Executives have been responsible for the fact that:

• They have failed to transform the innovative Radio 3 into a national broadcast network, thereby necessitating, in their eyes, the gutting of Radio Two’s classical programming in order to satisfy their self-perceived mandate to be all things to all people.

• The CBC Young Composers Competition and the CBC Young Performers Competition, have been suspended for the past four years. These two important domestic competitions had been instrumental in the development of some of Canada’s best musical talent including: Angela Hewitt, Ben Heppner, Jon Kimura Parker. The Canada Council provided the funding for the $10,000.00 grand prizes.

• The CBC has, as of February, erased the classical music budget for CBC Records, precisely on the eve of their first Grammy win by Canadian violinist James Ehnes and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Bramwell Tovey on the CBC Records label. Many artists, such as Measha Brueggergosman, launched their careers on a CBC Records label recording.

• The commissioning budget previously devoted to commissioning new works from composers is now spread out to cover jazz, pop musicians, and some unspecified amount of contemporary music. CBC says they will spend the same amount on classical commissions – but their track record is not looking good.

• The proposed cuts for the Fall of 2008 represents further reductions in classical music content, eliminating classical music 6am to 10am and 3pm to 6pm - reducing by over half the overall classical weekday programming from 12 hours to 5 hours, and shifting all weekday classical programming to inconvenient, off-peak times of the day when no one who works or goes to school can tune in.

• The axing of the 70 year old CBC Radio Orchestra: North America's last remaining radio orchestra and platform for countless premieres of new Canadian compositions. And then, one day after citing lack of resources as the reason for cutting the orchestra, buying an expensive full-page ad in a national newspaper to convince Canadians about how wonderful the evisceration of their national radio music network is - signed and supported by wealthy pop music recording industry executives and artists, the people who stand to gain monetarily from the demise of CBC’s classical programming

All existing and long-standing weekday classical shows on Radio Two are to be cut, including:

• Music & Company - Tom Allen's morning wake up show

• Here's to You - Catherine Belyea's all-request show

• Studio Sparks - due to the venerable Eric Friesen's "retirement"

• Disc Drive - Jurgen Gothe's popular, 30 year old drive-home show

• Sound Advice – Rick Philips’ extraordinarily informative and unique classical recording showcase and review

These changes come on the heels of last years round of cuts to vital programs such as:

• Danielle Charbonneau's much-loved Music for a While;

• Larry Lake's new composer showcase Two New Hours;

• Symphony Hall - Canada's live orchestra recording showcase;

• The Singer and the Song - Catherine Belyea's excellent Classical vocal program;

• Northern Lights - the overnight Classical program beloved by Night Owls everywhere;

• The reformatting of In Performance- a primarily classical live performance show into the unfocused Canada Live - a mostlly non-classical and confusing mix of various genres

The CBC claims financial constraints drive these cuts, yet spending in other areas, and support from the commercial recording industry suggest otherwise.

Canadian classical music fans and musicians and Radio Two listeners have had enough of this “concerted” and unprecedented campaign against classical and art music programming and infrastructure. Though their numbers may be relatively small compared to commercial radio, Radio Two listeners are among the most engaged and loyal in the world. They feel the have been betrayed and belittled by the current management team entrenched at the nation’s public broadcaster.

We are expecting a large and lively turnout at CBC installations across Canada, in every province where Radio Two is heard and loved. These demonstrations will occur simultaneously at 1200hrs Eastern Time (9am in Vancouver, 1:30pm in St. John’s, etc.). We are inviting all lovers of classical music and public supporters of the musical arts scene in this country to join with us in calling for the restoration of Radio Two’s vital classical music programming and the reversal of the decision to axe the CBC Radio Orchestra. Let our voices ring out and be heard! We welcome and encourage all members of the print, radio, electronic and television media to cover this important story and join us on this important day for Canada’s classical music community.


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