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This will be a fantastic event in Vancouver, Canada. Get you tickets soon!

VSO New Music Festival is live!.

A Celebration of Music in Canada

A Celebration of Music in Canada

This is such a wonderful celebration of music across our nation, Canada. To everyone participating let the music ring, and sing, sing, sing too!

The Webcast begins at 12:00 p.m. EDT (1:30 pm NDT, 1:00 ADT, 11:00 a.m. CDT, 10:00 MDT, 9:00 PDT), SO JOIN IN!

UPDATE: Maestro Bramwell Tovey speaks below about the potential cuts of the band and string music program in Vancouver schools.

Happily, the Vancouver School Board Trustees voted on April 30, 2014 to keep the band and string music program in Vancouver Schools for one more year.

The VSB39 will form a task force to help find a solution to making the band and string music program permanent in the Elementary Schools so we will never have to go through the agony of lobbying for this ever again.

Music is alive again in the Elementary Schools in Vancouver, Canada.

……”Music Monday is a nationwide celebration of music education in Canada, organized by the Coalition for Music Education. This year, Vancouver was chosen as the official location where the Music Monday song will be broadcast from.

Christin Reardon MacLellan, president of the Coalition for Music Education in B.C., believes that the large pool of participants shows that music is far from being a niche interest.

“No matter where you’re from, what language you speak, what your background is,” she says, “music is common to everyone.”

The Music Monday song, entitled I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing) was co-commissioned by the coalition and CBC Music, and written by Commander Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson.

This year, Hadfield will be in Edmonton, participating in the nationwide performance led by Maestro Bramwell Tovey in Vancouver.

“I think the main goal of Music Monday is to show how much support there is for music across Canada,” says Tovey. “And to celebrate that role that music plays in young people’s lives while at the same time showing those in a position of power to help propagation of music in education to realize that there actually is a tremendous amount of support for music.”

The importance of music education hits close to home for Tovey, as he was deeply influenced by music education as a child. “I went to a state school in the U.K. I was able to join the orchestra, I was able to join the local band, to play piano at concerts, do a lot of accompanying of choirs, singing in choirs, all of this under the school system,” he says.

“Without that experience, and without that window on the wider world which was given to me in school, I probably would not have achieved what I’ve been very fortunate to achieve over the course of my career.”

While the live webcast is a large part of the event, there are a number of other activities planned. Tovey will be answering questions as part of a segment called “Meet the Maestro”. Reardon MacLellan, and others, will give speeches in favour of music education. Also, there will be a special segment in Vancouver called “Uniformed Musicians”.

“We have adults from any walk of life, you know, many different careers, many different backgrounds who still have music as an important part of their lives,” says Reardon MacLellan. “They dress up in their work uniforms, whatever that might be, and they perform with the kids. It’s to communicate the importance of lifelong music making.”

This event is coming at a tender time for the Vancouver school board. They will vote tonight (April 30), on a proposal by school board chair Patti Bacchus to give the elementary band and strings program a one-year reprieve and create a task force to analyze how the program can become sustainable for future years.

Tonight’s decision will turn Vancouver’s Music Monday into either a celebration or a lament. All that the musicians can do is hope for the best.

“I’m hoping that Patti Bacchus’s proposal is adopted unanimously by the school board,” says Tovey. “With that stay of execution, the importance of music can be evaluated in the calm of a year’s grace, and all who are interested in the state of music in the schools can support the VSB and lobby the provincial government to see if we can put music on a more secure permanent footing.”

Music Monday will take place at the Telus World of Science on May 5 in Vancouver and all across Canada.


To reinforce #NOMusicEducation cuts in SD #39, (or other school districts for that matter), I unequivocally support Maestro Bramwell Tovey’s apolitical and ardent advocacy for Vancouver SD#39 not cutting band and string programs at the Elementary School level.





April 15, 2014, Maestro Bramwell Tovey, in his own words:

In April 2010 there was a similar public hearing when the Vancouver School Board had proposed eliminating band and strings programs. Extensive public consultation resulted in the proposal to abolish being withdrawn. The VSB were widely praised for this action which was in response to the overwhelming message of support for music in our schools from parents, pupils, the VSO and many other interested parties. The VSB listened and reacted with great leadership and insight.

At that time, I made a submission in person, which I am unable to do tonight as ironically, I am in the UK leading the spring course for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, an organization dependent on the music education programs in British schools.

Our 2010 submission contained many details about the value of music in the lives of children. I would refer you to those remarks which were published in the Vancouver Sun and are available online. It is not necessary to repeat why music is so essential a part of a rounded education – but briefly, may I remind everyone present that music is the only language understood by everyone in our wonderfully diverse community of citizens.

Music is the expression of the inner narrative of every child, the common thread of communication to those who participate in a band or orchestra.

Tonight we wish to express the strongest disapproval of the VSB’s latest proposal to eliminate the Elementary band and strings programs. We are extremely sympathetic to the predicament of the Vancouver Schools Board whose budgets must be balanced and whose role is to make difficult decisions, the depth and complexity of which require an understanding and judgment which by its very nature is highly specialist.

We are aware that VSB are encouraging those against the cuts to take up the matter with the provincial government. However, we sincerely believe that there is a particular concern about the elimination of the Elementary and String program that it is only possible for the VSB to solve.

Reinstating an eliminated program is very rare indeed. The teachers’ jobs have gone, the pupils have departed, the instruments have been sold. The whole support infrastructure has to be recreated from scratch, a very expensive undertaking, even when money seems to grow on trees.

Restoring levels of funding to an already existing program at a later date in better circumstances, is a much simpler scenario. It is difficult to believe that if VSB eliminates this program at this moment, a future VSB would welcome the opportunity in better times, to face all the financial issues of recreating it. This is why we are urging the VSB not to eliminate the Elementary band and strings program entirely. It would be impossible to resurrect it at a later date.

If the Elementary program were to be eliminated now, it seems inevitable that at the next VSB budget, high school programs would follow the same fate.

We cannot begin to understand the depth of the issues facing VSB in the many essential areas of public education for which they are responsible. Our only expertise is in music. We have seen the power of music to unite people of widely disparate backgrounds. We have been in the schools, working with the students and teachers with the full support of the VSB under the banner of our program VSO CONNECTS. As VSB knows, as music director, I have been fully involved with this program with the presentation “Meet the Maestro,” conducting school bands and orchestras, meeting with parent/teacher groups, raising money for groups and much else besides.

We are aware that the VSB is urging those against the cuts to speak out against the provincial government. The VSO will pursue its own private channels with the provincial government to communicate our serious concerns about the situation regarding the VSB budget problems. We are a non-partisan arts organization, but when it comes to the education of the children in our community, we realize that as a centre of excellence in performance and education, we have responsibilities.

For the VSO the stakes are much higher in 2014 than in 2010. VSO Connects, which was only in its infancy in 2010, is now a fully fledged program, drawing on several years of success and operating in every school district in the Lower Mainland. In 2011 the VSO School of Music opened its doors, offering additional individual lesson capacity, group learning from infancy, adult classes and a great deal more.

Perhaps most importantly, the VSO is in a community partnership with the extraordinary work going on in the St James Music Academy on the downtown Eastside where opportunities for young people are few and far between. As mentors and partners to SJMA, working with students and ensembles the VSO has renewed its mission to bring music to as many children as possible in our community.

If I might repeat one thing from our 2010 submission it would be this


The social benefits of music are extraordinary –

If a student holds a musical instrument then he or she can’t hold a knife, or a joint, or a needle or a crack pipe – or a gun. 

If a student is in a choir or a band or an orchestra, they are communicating through the universal art of music at the heart of our community.

Please support the children who play music as one Grade 8 student said this week, because its something they can do for their entire life.

The VSO recognizes the dilemma facing the VSB, but please, do not take the instruments away from the elementary students.

Submitted with great respect on behalf of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.



“Music is the only language understood by everyone in our wonderful diverse world.” Bramwell Tovey, Music Director, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra


Premier Christy Clark, here are some messages you might pay attention to and change your point of view regarding Education Funding in British Columbia. Listen to your own Liberal team, in their recommendation to, restore funding for education in British Columbia; and, keep your promise of “FAMILIES FIRST”.






Premier Christy Clark: Do you still “hope they, (being cuts to Education Funding), are being kept away from hurting Kids”?

I hope you get the message, loud and clear, that restoring Education Funding in British Columbia must not be a long-term goal of our government. It must be an immediate and ongoing goal of the government we elected.

From a parent: Here’s proof positive WHY funding Music Education in our schools is important: “My daughter is studying micro-biology at university now. Her preparation was piano theory and a GAP year in a singer-songwriter program. The interplay is obvious in her work so far.” Kevin Teichroeb

Premier Christy Clark please pay attention to the KIDS, and show the leadership we voted for, in you, by restoring Education Funding in British Columbia, NOW; because later, in your current long-term goals agenda, it won’t matter.



Premier Christy Clark:

From a young clarinetist in elementary band: “please don’t take away the band. It would break my heart.” VSB39





ATTEND the Vancouver School Board Budget Meeting, open to the public, Tuesday April 15, 2014 at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School – 7pm. #NOMusicEducationCuts #InvestInVanKids

Here is WHY:

Madame Premier,

You have a child attending a school located in the Vancouver School District #39 area.

I extend to you, as a parent of a school-aged child, a sincere invitation to  the public discussion on the 2014/15 VSB Budget at 7:00pm, April 15th at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.

From students in school music programs, and, in their own words, here is WHY: (Please watch the video)


Please, do, #InvestInVanKids, and in your child’s education.


Susan C. Weiss



JOIN the Twitter campaign #InvestInVanKids
FOLLOW  #RallyNOMusicEducationCuts
WRITE a letter to Premier Christy Clark
ATTEND the VSB Public Budget Meeting at 7 p.m., April 15



I am also passionately upset, grievously so, that the Vancouver School Board, yet again, (they tried to do the same in 2010), is proposing to ELIMINATE, yes, ELIMINATE, the Elementary School band and string music program in, School District #39, that they govern, to SAVE $630K+.

I, Susan Weiss, unequivocally support, encourage and plead with everyone who cares about education, (whether you have children in school or not), to make yourself heard, seen and shout it out: “VSB, DO NOT ELIMINATE MUSIC PROGRAMS IN OUR VANCOUVER SCHOOLS!


I share this letter from Access to Music Foundation President and CEO Elka Yarlowe:

10 APR 14

“The Vancouver School Board’s recent budget proposal including either a fee raise or total elimination of the Band and Strings Program, has compelled Access to Music Foundation President and CEO Elka Yarlowe to put out a call to action.

She’s written an open letter to the city’s school board engaging Vancouverites to speak up to government and through social media about the importance of early music education in youth development, and take part in the public discussion coming up at 7:00pm, April 15th at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School.

The recommendation in the 2014/2015 preliminary budget is “to eliminate the band and strings program for a savings of $630,651.

Alternatively, the Board could increase the annual fee for the band and strings program to $25 per month for a total of $250.00 per year. This however would only generate an additional $350,000.”

Access to Music hopes you can help encourage the Vancouver School Board to keep funding in place to ensure VanCity’s kids have access to elementary school music programs.

Your voice can make the difference, please join us today to help us make a better tomorrow for our kids.

You can contribute in the following ways:

JOIN our Twitter campaign using #InvestInVanKids to show your support of music education;

WRITE a letter to Premier Christy Clark asking for improvements to school funding – an example is at


ATTEND the public budget meeting on Tuesday, April 15th at Mt. Pleasant Elementary School at 7pm.

It’s not just about music. It is about providing a creative and innovative way to make the overall learning experience for every child a meaningful and lasting one.”

Please click this link to read the full open letter from Elka Yarlowe to the VSB.






The content of this link more than irks me; it makes me angry.

Michael Morreale on Twitter @18mm and or his team, either can’t draw pie charts correctly; OR, and more to my point, don’t ask the right questions of the people who are in the know.

Case in point, Maestro Bramwell Tovey, Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

I quote Maestro Bramwell Tovey’s most recent tweets:

2014/15 VSO 28 solo opportunities (excl choral&pops), 16men, 10women and 2tbd.

@BramwellTovey: .@VSOrchestra is waiting for @18mrm @CBCMusic apology for fake statistics & lack of diligence in plagiarized article.

Personally, I, as a female cultural entrepreneur, visionary, and a creative in the performing arts, find the comments about “shocking female gender gap” by Michael Morreale @18mm in his article, demeaning and, pathetic.

I ask the leadership, in critical journalism at CBC Music: Where is your journalistic oversight? Where is your fact checking?

And, when is Michael Morreale @18mm going to publicly apologize to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, its Music Director, Bramwell Tovey, its audience and donors?

I’m asking and waiting….

Susan C. Weiss

Stunningly superb singing from an all-star cast of Canadian opera singers. WOW! Moved me to tears of joy!

Nancy Hermiston’s UBC Opera Ensemble shone so brilliantly as the chorus and also in many of the character parts in this concert version of this Canadian Opera! They all ROCK!!!

The Vancouver Symphony soared to great heights in this adventure into opera conducted by the composer and current Music Director of the VSO, Bramwell Tovey.

Bravo tutti!

Here are the main cast members:

Erin Wall soprano

Laura Whalen soprano

Roger Honeywell tenor

Judith Forst mezzo-soprano

Roger Honeywell tenor

James Westman baritone

Phillip Ens

UBC Opera Ensemble

Maestro Bramwell Tovey’s recently premiered spectacular opera The Inventor opened at the Calgary Opera in January 2011 to critical acclaim. John Murrell’s libretto tells the tragic story of Alexander (“Sandy”) Keith Jr., nephew of the famous brewmaster, with Tovey’s spectacular, dramatic score. The VSO presents the concert version of this new opera, featuring the original cast and, of course, Maestro Tovey conducting.

Please click here to read the full synopsis of The Inventor.

There is one more concert on Monday June 11, 2012 at 8pm at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Vancouver; not to be missed.

(Rumour has it that the next staged version of The Inventor may be in Germany!!!)

Here is a link to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s website for more information:


Loss is tragic, whatever the loss is.

It is hard to imagine the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company having to close its doors and this definitely leaves a big and deep hole in the entire Vancouver community.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, in the 1980’s, went through something similar with a huge and unsustainable debt load due to a sharp decrease in subscribers, sponsorship and donations and the list of woes went on and on.

Three levels of government bailed out the VSO, to no avail.

I sat at many meetings with Cabinet Ministers, the Canada Council, the BC Government, the BC Arts Office, the Chief Bankruptcy officer for the Province of British Columbia, (who became the President of the Board of Directors of the VSO in this terrible period of its history), VSO musicians, the Music Director, and many, many, others trying to “save” the VSO.

I was commissioned by the Province of British Columbia to prepare a financial and artistic recovery plan that the Province of BC could understand and begin to help implement a recovery process.

The Vancouver community could not imagine a world-class city without a symphony orchestra; and neither could I.

The short story of this downturn for the VSO is that it did close its doors for a time. The organization hired Ed Oscapella, (may he rest in peace), to put the organization back on track, financially, artistically, (when he took over there was no articulated strategic artistic plan, long or short that addressed the needs of the Vancouver community to have an world class symphony orchestra).

Through some years of trials and errors the VSO made good strategic decisions on how to involve the community to re-build the VSO and today we can all happily say the VSO has succeeded, splendidly.

Will the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company come back again? Perhaps, in another form, location, and it will be a vibrant entity in the Vancouver community; I certainly hope so, and I believe it will.

This is not to place blame, but many level headed and experienced cultural entertainment professionals warned that the “secret” bailouts as a “Band-Aid” fix, and, also the manner in which the bailouts were managed would not work. I know the movie; I lived it in the 1980’s with the VSO.

In my humble opinion running to the government for a bail-out is a short-term fix, and the City of Vancouver who owns the Playhouse facility is getting a good kick in the butt and maybe a wake up call that either they should operate the Playhouse facility professionally; (there are some models for government doing this successfully), or get out of this facility operation business and leave the artists alone to do what they succeed at – create fantastic programming and theatre entertainment.

Now is the time for some serious, serious, reflection on the part of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company community, being the actors, directors, designers, creators, staff, stage management, production management, technical production management, marketers, publicity, fundraisers, and board of directors for all of them to come together. And first look after their supporters – ticket-holders, donors and clean up a mess.

There is always tomorrow, and there will be a tomorrow for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company.

The next step is to re-build, and what this re-build looks like is up to the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company community.

Vancouver is blessed with talented, experience willing individuals, corporations and other entities that can help and make a difference; (the VSO and Ballet BC came back, so I am hopeful)

I am there is spirit, tonight; Lois, light a candle for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre community, for me, thank you.

Susan Weiss

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