Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

If I Had 2.5 Million Dollars. I'd Buy a Symphony Orchestra?

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

If I Had 2.5 Million Dollars. I'd Buy a Symphony Orchestra?

Article excerpt

If I had a million dollars -

If I had a million dollars

Well, I'd buy you a green dress -

but not a real green dress, that's cruel

And if I had a million dollars -

if I had a million dollars

Well, I'd buy you some art -

a Picasso or a Garfunkel

If I had a million dollars -

if I had a million dollars

Well, I'd buy you a monkey -

haven't you always wanted a monkey

If I had a million dollars I'd buy your love

Barenaked Ladies

ON OCTOBER 4TH, BOB ASTLEY, CHAIR OF THE BOARD of Directors of the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestra announced that unless 2.5 million dollars could be raised by October 31st, the symphony would cease operation and declare bankruptcy. This announcement spawned dozens of op-ed columns in the local press and letters from citizens expressing both sides of the argument articulately and passionately.

I posed this question to my undergraduate introductory music education class. "If you were the music czar of the Waterloo Region, population more than a half million, how would you best invest 2.5 million dollars to improve the music education of the community?" They smelled a rat and accused me immediately of not supporting the symphony. Once the shock of my heretical question had subsided, a fruitful discussion followed. Why should we bail out 52 musicians? Why can't they figure out how to get audiences? Why does it cost so much to have classical music in our town? Why not just have one great recording orchestra in the country and support them as they tour through our cities annually, and record perfectly performed music?

Interesting questions and controversial debate. Most, however, strongly felt that for now, we must support the orchestra. A symphony orchestra, after all, is an artistic expression of our cultural community, and any community deemed as "artistic" as our region claims to be, possesses a fine orchestra. One student suggested that just as we have parks and other tax supported amenities, the symphony should be an "entitlement" to our citizens. Just tax every household an extra $10 and give all citizens a free concert series... say a 5 pak of tickets. All other concerts would cost. The majority argued that live music making cannot be replaced by recordings. The sound of an acoustically designed hall vibrating with humans making the sound on real instruments was an unparalleled thrill. …

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