There will be no Toronto Philharmonia season-opener for Uri Mayer to conduct this week.

The Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra has cancelled Thursday’s season-opening concert with music director Uri Mayer at the George Weston Recital Hall, due to ongoing financial problems. The organization’s future is in question right now.

“We are not opening the season because we couldn’t raise enough money,” said the orchestra’s president, Dr Milos Krajny, in a short interview this morning.

On Sept. 10, he sent out a plea for help to the orchestra’s patrons and friends. “We need to raise $150,000 by the end of September 2012 in order to start the 2012-13 season in October.”

The emergency campaign did not meet its goal.

Dr Krajny says he is meeting with the Philharmonia’s board tomorrow to discuss the organization’s future. He says there will be two options on the table, to put the season opening on hold to January 25, which would have been the third date of its five-concert season, or to contemplate shutting the orchestra down.

The head of the board is very frustrated by the situation. On one hand, he and his fellow supporters of the North York-based orchestra were heartened by the marked improvement in artistic quality last season, under Mayer’s leadership, and of the consequent increase in ticket sales.

“But we only have four corporate sponsors,” says Dr Krajny, “and that is not enough.” He pointed out that it costs the organization $8,500 in rent alone for each concert. Box office revenues cover fractionally more than a third of the costs for each performance.

The orchestra’s website has not been updated, and the orchestra’s general manager is out of the country, so has not been available for comment. There is no voicemail for the orchestra’s phone number.

The only way subscribers and other ticket holders for Thursday’s concert can find out that the event is not happening is either by word of mouth, or by calling the boxoffice at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Is it really possible that a place as populous and well-off as the North York area cannot support a quality orchestra that performs in one of Canada’s best concert halls?

John Terauds

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6 Responses to Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra cancels Thursday’s season-opening concert

  1. Diana says:

    “…the orchestra’s general manager is out of the country, so has not been available for comment. There is no voicemail for the orchestra’s phone number.”

    Always disappointing to hear things like this happening, especially in an organization so young. With the quote above, I can’t help but think: is it possible that a lack of professional administrative expertise resulted in the artistic product not being properly supported both financially and operationally? Just an idea…

    • John Terauds John Terauds says:

      Hi Diana,
      That’s probably one of many factors.

    • Yoanna says:

      I couldn’t agree more with Diana…. In short; major and drastic changes on the administration level perhaps could revive this group. Absentia prior to the season’s opening concert??? This is a “self inflicted drowning” by the Orchestra’s gen manager!! The good news ; many skilfull professionals are available to replace the current personelle.

  2. In a word, John, the answer seems to be “Yes”.

    But the situation also begs the question of what we might expect in support from the City of Toronto….The City owns the Hall; the Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra could be resident in the hall for their season with no rent. They could be resident artists, along with perhaps a Toronto based string quartet, and a chamber orchestra….Let’s say they each offered 4 concerts per season….That is 12 concerts, so with rehearsals, say between 24 to 36 days of usage of the hall over the season – and this in a hall that sits empty most of the year.

    This would bring classical music out of the downtown core, and closer to the audience….for each concert there could be a dress rehearsal that would be free for students to attend – who could come by subway; and even walk from nearby schools (saving the bus transportation costs that make attendance at so many cultural events prohibitive for schools). The concert presenters, effectively resident artists could send performers in ones and twos out into the community (schools, places of worship, malls) to talk about upcoming concerts, to play examples the composers featured, to talk about the place of “art music” in their lives…..

    From the posts on this site, and others to which you provide an introduction and links, it is clear that “classical music” will not thrive unless we develop new models. Most identify the need for music education of the young, and the need to build audiences….This situation offers an opportunity to try a few new ideas….

    The city of Toronto may not want to increase funding to the arts; but opening a hall that would otherwise be empty, to bring something of value to residents, need not be too difficult a stretch.

  3. muse says:

    It’s not clear to many of us who this orchestra is anymore or what to believe. The Toronto Philharmonia was the professional spin-off of the North York Symphony, I understood. That name change happened in 2001. The North York Symphony was founded in 1977. Yet the Toronto Philharmonia’s website states that this orchestra was founded in 2010?? However Milos Krajny became president in 2009 and no new incorporation is to be found under the orchestra’s name. How do they explain this timeline? Dr. Krajny mentions the failure of the orchestra’s campaign to raise money. One wonders if he is even aware that the administrative chaos in his organization is so deep that the North York Symphony Association (under whose charitable number the orchestra operated) lost charitable status in 2011! Thus they are unable to raise charitable donations.

    Those of us that have had to file information returns to preserve charitable status know that it’s not rocket science and actually the CRA is very patient with giving extensions, so this is gross negligence. It is hard to raise money when you can’t give a charitable receipt. I notice that the Toronto Arts Council is listed as a funder on the orchestra’s page yet if one reviews grants for the past couple of seasons, you’ll note that the orchestra is not listed as a recipient and I know from a personal contact that at least one of the other listed sponsors is old news.

    Some of us watched from the backstands or backrows as some very dedicated boardmembers and a very hard-working GM were vilified and driven out of the TPO by mean-spirited attacks from individuals who have now demonstrated that they had neither the skills nor the resources to do a better job.