Members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, on strike since Sept. 25, have been working nonstop to raise public awareness about the issues involved and to rally support. The orchestra has been playing benefit concerts several times every week.
To press elected officials to play a role in resolving the situation, orchestra members played an impromptu concert at Toronto’s City Hall on Oct. 27, and on Nov. 2 concertmaster Jacques Isrealievitch led a performance at the provincial legislative building.
Chamber groups have performed continuously at a variety of venues: schools, seniors’ homes, community centers, etc. Several groups were joined by some of Toronto’s most noted jazz musicians for a sold-out brunch concert on Oct. 24 at the Rex Hotel, which raised money for the musicians’ fund.
The players are also supporting other struggles. Proceeds of their first concert, during the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in October, went to benefit a local food bank. On Oct. 23 they held a garage and bake sale at the downtown YMCA, raising $1,500 for Dixon Hall, a music school for underprivileged children.
Members of the National Arts Centre Orchestra – who went through a seven-week strike several years ago, as well as a one-day strike last year – joined the TSO players on the picket line on Oct. 26. Colleagues across Canada and the U.S. have sent letters of support, as well as financial assistance, and some have written letters to the editors, to the chairperson of the TSO Board, and to elected officials at the municipal, provincial and federal level. More letters are appearing in the press, and more articles being written in support of the TSO musicians.
Up-to-date information about the strike and the progress of negotiations, which were to resume early in November, are available from the musicians’ web site: www.tsomusicians.com.