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Canada's Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Cancels Entire Season at Short Notice

The orchestra's players were given just 48 hours' notice that they would not be returning to work for the 2023/24 season


Ontario's third-largest orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (KWS), has canceled its entire 2023/24 season — with the announcement coming just a few days before the season's opening concert. According to the orchestra's management, financial constraints were the primary consideration in the decision.

The orchestra's 54 permanent musicians, many of whom were on unemployment insurance during the summer recess, were given just 48 hours' notice that they would not be returning to work.

Devon Klaas, the Director of Audience Engagement at the KWS, told CBC News that "based on the financial situation of the symphony, it simply wasn't possible for the organization to continue with our planned events".

"We don't have more information to share at this time, but we expect to be able to provide more information soon," Klaas added.

The orchestra's musicians have received little communication about the decision-making process or about the future of their jobs.

Founded in 1945, the KWS performs about 220 concerts in a typical year, reaching an audience of more than 90,000 people. In addition to its mainstage concerts, the ensemble also runs a Youth Orchestra and Bridge to Music program, both of which will also be canceled this year.

"We are very sad to announce that the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony will not be commencing the season this week as planned," the organization wrote in a statement. "Scheduled concerts and all other activities of the orchestra for the 2023/24 season will not be proceeding."

"Based on the financial situation of the symphony, it simply wasn’t possible for the organization to continue with our planned events."

"Representing the musicians of the KWS is something that is paramount to us," said Paul Mitchell, the local president of the Ontario Musicians Association. "As we find out more information we'll be able to put together a strategy in hopes of supporting our musicians and hopefully restoring the KWS."

"We intend to have conversations ASAP with KWS," he added.

"I feel an emptiness and significant loss at the realization that I will not be able to return to the stage this coming Tuesday to rehearse with my friends and colleagues at the Conrad Centre," wrote KWS cellist Kendra Grittani on social media.

"I am heartbroken, and I am so frustrated...what a scary time for the Canadian orchestral community," she added.

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