Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CBC not recording 50th anniversary of the Canadian Music Centre

As printed on page 6 of:

International Musician
Official Journal of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada
Vol. 107, No. 9; September 2009

AFM Calls on CBC/SRC to Record CMC Anniversary Concert

by Bill Skolnik, AFM Vice President from Canada

In 1959, an nonprofit organization called the Canadian Music Centre/Centre de musique canadienne (CMC) began. It is bilingual, private, and not connected to any government agency. Its national headquarters is in Toronto, but it has regional offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Sackville, New Brunswick, at Mount Allison University. CMC's main function is the promotion of Canadian contemporary classical music. It maintains a vast library of scores and lobbies on behalf of composers, many of whom are members of AFM Canada.

CMC's record label, Centrediscs, produces, circulates and distributes the recorded works of the member composers. AFM Canada is in negotiations right now with CMC/Centrediscs on a collective bargaining agreement. This accord will permit the CMC to collect past radio performances, largely from CBC/SRC and fashion them into CDs and downloads available to the public. It is the hope of CMC, in cooperation with AFM Canada, to create a legacy of sound; a listening catalogue of everything instrumental recorded by their member composers. With the welcomed advice of Robert Cram of Local 180 (Ottawa, ON), who is an untiring activist, and in my book, a hero of new music; OCSM; Mark Tetreault of AFM SSD Canada; and Alan Willaert of AFM EMSD Canada, these talks are going well. I expect a signed agreement in the near future. We will help the CMC realize its dream and put a few bucks into the pockets of Canada's symphonic and chamber players to boot.

It has been 50 years since the inception of the CMC. The National Arts Centre Orchestra is helping celebrate this milestone with a November 9 performance entitled the Canadian Music Centre Anniversary Concert. At the time of writing this column the program had not been set. According to CMC Executive Director Elisabeth Bihl, the list of works will include compositions from pioneering composers like the late John Weinzweig and Gilles Tremblay of Local 406 (Montréal, PQ); established composers like Gary Kulesha of Local 149; and emerging voices like Heather Schmidt of Local 547 (Calgary, AB). I do not know if the works of any of these composers will be featured, but the sounds of their respective generations will be heard.

There is just one problem---and it is a big one. So far the CBC/SRC has not given any indication that it wishes to record this historical event. It has to; it must. It is vital that our national public broadcaster create a recording of this occasion. CBC/SRC is probably our most significant cultural institution. I always thought that its mandate was to ensure that high points, such as what this concert represents, were to be celebrated and documented for history, posterity and commemoration. This is the CBC/SRC's raison d'être. That is why it was created.

AFM Canada and others will be contacting the "powers that be" to hopefully convince them to send a few microphones over to the National Arts Centre on November 9. Those powers are: Mark Steinmetz, director of Radio Music CBC English Services; Denise Donlon, executive director of CBC Radio; and Christiane Leblanc, première directrice d'Espace-musique. If you know them personally, please get in touch and express the need for them to pick up this concert. Maybe you know a music producer at CBC/SRC radio. Call them too and it may help.

Perhaps one of them reads this column. Perhaps there will be understanding and a positive response to this earnest, sincere appeal. My hope is that, by the time you read this column, CBC/SRC will have already taken up its responsibility and obligation on this issue and my words will be moot.

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