British Columbia

CBC Radio Orchestra to disband after 70 years

The last notes of the Vancouver-based CBC Radio Orchestra will be heard at the end of the fall concert season in November.

The last notes of the Vancouver-based CBC Radio Orchestra will be heard at the end of the fall concert season in November.

The CBC Radio Orchestra was formed in 1938 with a mandate to showcase Canadian composers, musicians and Canadian content. ((CBC))

The decision to disband the orchestra — formed in 1938 when radio orchestras were common — comes down to dollars and cents, a CBC executive in Vancouver said Thursday.

"We know for example that for a concert that we fund through our CBC Radio Orchestra, we can extend our reach to three by doing it through other musical organizations," said Jennifer McGuire, executive director of CBC English Radio.

The orchestra, the last of its kind in North America with 32 CDs to its credit, has helped to showcase Canadian composers, musicians and Canadian content, much loved by classical music fans.

McGuire said the money saved could be used more efficiently by spending it on other CBC Radio 2 musical programs.

"The commitment we're making is that our job is to find new ways of working with musical organizations out there to make sure that innovative and creative Canadian music still gets on CBC Radio," she said.

That doesn't make members of the orchestra and their supporters happy, however.

Colin Miles, regional director of the Canadian Music Centre, said disbanding the orchestra downgrades CBC's role as a public broadcaster.

"What they're interested in doing is downgrading CBC from a public broadcaster into a commercial broadcaster … to make it easier to compete with the private sector," Miles said.

Jane Coop, a concert pianist with CBC Radio Orchestra, said Canadian music will be the big loser. The orchestra's mandate has always been to showcase Canadian talent.

"We won't get that with other orchestras. They can't really do that with as much commitment and as much verve," she said.

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