Heritage committee asks CBC to reconsider orchestra’s demise

The House of Commons standing committee on Canadian heritage has concluded in a June 18 report that the CBC’s management and board of directors “should review the decision to disband the CBC Radio Orchestra”.

“Even though it’s in kind of gentle language, it’s quite a slap on the wrist to the board and senior staff,” Colin Miles, regional director of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the , Save the CBC Orchestra Committee told the Straight.

The report comes out of committee hearings into the CBC’s dismantling of the radio orchestra, its commitment to classical music, and changes to CBC Radio 2. As reported in the Straight, the hearings, which were proposed by NDP heritage critic Bill Siksay, MP for Burnaby-Douglas, took place last month and included two video conferences with Vancouverites, including Vancouver Symphony Orchestra music director Bramwell Tovey and UBC School of Music director Richard Kurth.

Although the heritage committee has no power over the CBC, Siksay urged CBC brass to pay attention to the report. “What we’re hoping is that, given the presentations and the testimony we heard from Canadians, from people in the arts and culture community, that they’ll reconsider their decision and have another look at it,” he told the Straight.

CBC spokesperson Jeff Keay told the Straight by phone from Toronto that the decision to scrap the orchestra will not be reversed, despite the heritage committee’s report. “The financial resources that we were directing into the orchestra, we could create more music for listeners by applying those resources elsewhere. We haven’t changed our view on that,” he said.