Members of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra are “heartbroken” after the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony abruptly cancelled its 2023-2024 season, halting numerous programs and leaving more than 50 musicians out of work.
“It’s heart wrenching,” said Catherine Molina, general manager of the Guelph Symphony Orchestra. “It was not anything that we would ever expect to hear.”
The KWS said financial issues were to blame, citing “an unprecedented rise in costs following the global pandemic" in a post on Facebook.
To resume the season and avoid insolvency, they would have needed $2 million by Friday; but they declared bankruptcy Thursday, ceasing all operations.
Molina called it “an immeasurable loss to the broader community, including their incredible professional musicians. They’re very devoted to community outreach and to working with youth.”
On its part, the Guelph Symphony Orchestra has offered to take on any students from the KWS youth orchestra free of charge who have already paid tuition.
But she’s hopeful they can find a way to keep the program running in Kitchener-Waterloo, as Wilfrid Laurier’s music faculty is looking into funding for it. The former KW Symphony Musicians have also offered to help.
“The musicians of the KW Symphony, even though they’re in this terrible place and their livelihoods (are) at risk, they’ve all agreed to support the youth orchestra, and continue to coach at no charge.”
Molina said she was touched when she learned of a six-year-old cellist who won a $50 scholarship in a provincial competition, and decided to donate it to the youth orchestra.
“That gives you a sense of how much people value this,” she said.
The GSO has also made a pledge to hire from the KWS first, whenever they’re in need of extra players.
“We will do everything in our power to support them,” she said.
As for whether a similar situation could erupt here, Molina said they too have seen increasing costs for everything, including rehearsal space, but that they don’t foresee its own programs shutting down.
“We still depend on the support of our community and our gracious annual donors,” she said. “But we are in a healthy financial situation. There’s no danger that somebody buys a ticket for our concert, that we’re not going to go through (with it).”