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In less than two years since the death of previous conductor, artistic director and CEO Robert Raines, the Brampton Symphony Orchestra has gone from being a local cultural jewel to being an unwanted outcast.
Toronto Star reporter San Grewal, who has been following the toxic relations between Brampton Symphony management and various people in Brampton city government, including mayor Susan Fennell, reported late Wednesday that the orchestra has been barred from any municipal venues, including its home at the Rose Theatre.
The latest move rose out of a dispute over who owns the Steinway concert grand piano at the theatre. Both sides claim the title, and the police were called in two weeks ago when the symphony tried to have the instrument removed, saying that the piano needed maintenance.
Even once the fog of invective clears, the fact remains that the Bramptom Symphony no longer has a place to perform and, consequently, is not likely to be able to complete its season. On Friday morning, its website still announced two upcoming concerts at the Rose Theatre.
Raines worked hard to build a close personal relationship with mayor Fennell — one that got the orchestra into the newly built Rose Theatre in 2006, ensured steady funding from the mayor’s annual fundraising gala and annual contracts for a core of professional musicians. In return, Raines and the musicians performed a lot of work among children in the community.
That community work is also in jeopardy.
The orchestra’s current CEO Michael Todd (who was board president when Raines was CEO) was not prepared to comment to Grewal, pending an upcoming board meeting. Brampton officials have maintained from the outset that they are not responsible for any of the symphony’s financial or scheduling problems.
You can read Grewal’s most recent article here, and follow the breadcrumbs backwards. It’s a powerful and painful reminder of how, no matter how institutionalized we think an organization is, survival inevitably comes down to maintaining good interpersonal relationships.