WHAT AN EXCITING TIME to begin my tenure as the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s Board President. As I have been thinking about what to write in my first note to our patrons, the famous and somewhat over-used opening lines in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities keeps rattling through my mind: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the spring of hope, it was the season of darkness …”
In many ways, it’s hard to see past the worst of the current pandemic and our season of darkness as winter looms. COVID cases and tragically, deaths, are increasing locally, nationally and globally. Businesses are struggling, if not failing, because of COVID-19 control measures. Our musicians have lost gigs, sometimes their sole source of income. Individually we feel increasingly isolated as our ability to meet with family and friends is curtailed.
The MCO experienced its first sense of loss when the second half of our 2019/20 season had to be cancelled in March and our 2020/21 season put on hold until Spring 2021. We were also forced to cancel our annual Heartstrings Gala, a significant source of revenue for the organization. Every other performing arts group in the country has experienced the same.
So, where do we find the best of times and our Spring of Hope? As is so often the case, we find it in the courage, determination and ingenuity of people.
We see this in the dedication of front-line workers, be they in healthcare, clerks in grocery stores, drivers on public transportation, or teachers recently returned to school, to name but a few.
At the MCO we, too, have tried to apply care, dedication and ingenuity to ensure that our orchestra remains active, engaged, and ready to return to the stage when it’s safe to do so.
In April, we swiftly adapted our programming to serve our community virtually and support our musicians, launching our online offering MCO at Home. We have shared individual performances from orchestra members and guest artists, archival concerts, and interviews with guest artists and Music Director Anne Manson — all to keep us in tune with good music and to feed our souls! This work continues and is available anytime, free of charge, at themco.ca. or on our MCO at Home radio program on Classic 107, every second Sunday at 2pm.
During the summer, our Fiddlers on the Loose outreach ensemble performed in Assiniboine Park and at Downtown Biz events. We held Artists in Healthcare concerts outdoors for our esteemed health care workers and their patients. We continue to work hard with our community partners, including the Frontier School Division, Winnipeg School Division, and Winnipeg Public Libraries to serve all members of our province, including vulnerable and isolated individuals for whom this time is particularly difficult.
We were fortunate to open our season this fall with a pair of concerts at the Winnipeg Art Gallery featuring some of Winnipeg’s finest musicians. This felt like quite an accomplishment, and was a powerful reminder of the magic of gathering together to share music.
We all look forward to our Spring of Hope with our 2021 Spring Festival in the familiar surroundings of Westminster Church. While we have to expect the unexpected, planning is going ahead to provide a full series of eight concerts with well-known faces — among them, Tracy Dahl and Andriana Chuchman, the Chooi brothers, James Sommerville, The Pembina Trail Singers, and Anne Manson. An outline of our plans for the 2021 Spring Season is included, and you will receive our seasonal brochure with full information later this year.
I am proud of the resilience and ingenuity of the MCO. However, none of our work would be possible without the support of our donors, patrons, and volunteers — people like you. We sincerely value and appreciate the contribution of every one of our supporters.
The MCO is deeply rooted in the community, thanks to the contribution of every one of our supporters who have helped us build a strong foundation for the organization. If you are able, I hope you will consider donating to the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Your support means more than ever. Every donation makes a direct impact on the MCO and helps us ensure a thriving future for music and cultural outreach on the prairies. Donations can be made online anytime at themco.ca, or call 204-783-7377 ext. 102 (administration), leave a message, and Elise will happily return your call from home.
Stay safe and be well,
Stay safe and be well,
PS — 100% of your donation to the MCO directly supports a thriving future for music and cultural outreach on the prairies. Donate today at themco.ca or call 204-783-7377 ext. 102.