Canada’s oldest, most venerable national orchestra and only radio orchestra has been axed by CBC Radio music chief Mark Steinmetz. Since 1938, the CBC Radio Orchestra has been an integral part of Canada’s music scene, and an important part of our cultural heritage. This last radio orchestra in North America has contributed to a deep and broad archive of classical recordings in Canadian music.
Plain ol’ economics is driving this decision and the CBC obviously did not consider more than that. CBC is “reshaping” its radio programming, and that reshaping has been the demise of many beloved classical and non-classical national broadcasts that we Canadians know and love, and now, it may mean the end of this unique Canadian orchestra.
The dismantling of the orchestra, formed in 1938, is the latest in a string of decisions that have seen classical music losing time slots on the public broadcaster’s airwaves. Recent decisions have moved classical music away from morning, afternoon, and evening slots. Popular classical CBC shows including Music & Company, Here’s to You, Studio Sparks, and DiscDrive have all been scheduled for cancellation. Last year, Music for a While, Two New Hours, Symphony Hall, The Singer and the Song, and Northern Lights were cut. The CBC Young Composers Competition was also recently terminated.
Jessica Werb- March 28 - Georgia Straight
The CBC may not have considered that many Canadians care about more than mere dollars and cents when it comes to preserving our cultural institutions. The CBC Radio Orchestra, and CBC’s once rich and diverse programming, are part of that culture. They are as Canadian as back bacon, hockey, maple syrup, and multi-culturalism. CBC Radio Canada and its orchestra are part of what makes Canada, Canada. Why is it that decisions made at the highest levels, affecting all Canadians, are made without consultation? Without consulting tax-payers like me, who pay the bills? Surely, someone should have asked me and the umpteen thousands of Canadians who care more about culture than blind acts of “fiscal responsibility” or “doing the hard thing” or whatever other euphemisms are used to describe rash acts of cultural barbarism.
Many Canadians would agree that the CBC Orchestra and what it brings to the Canadian cultural scene are worth at least the less than 1 million dollar budget. How about this notion? Instead of politicians voting themselves raises this year or next, instead of wasting time studying this or that, or forming working groups or commissioning studies, or studying commissions, let’s ask them to consider what is good for Canada, and not just easier for programming, or good management. These things are not all that matters in decision making that has deeper cultural impact.
Please, my fellow Canadians, fellow culture-hugging, maple syrup slurping siblings of Hockey Night and CBC, lets work together on this. We can do it! Really. Write a letter. Bombard the CBC with good old fashion Canuckian rantings about how you want this orchestra, good homegrown CBC programming and classical music, new music, and live performance. Let the band play on!
Write any or all of the following, and please sign the petition
CBC/Radio-Canada - English Services
250 Front Street West
P.O. Box 500, Station A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6
1-866-306-INFO (4636) Toll-free
CBC/Radio-Canada - French Services
P.O. Box 6000
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3A8
1-866-306-INFO (4636) Toll-free
Corporate Communications, Head Office
P.O. Box 3220, Station C
Ottawa, ON K1Y 1E4
Write or call Jose Verner , Minister of Canadian Heritage (aka Ministry of Culture) at:
Toll-free: 1 866-811-0055
15 Eddy Street
TTY*: 1 888-997-3123