Association of Canadian Orchestras/Association des orchestres canadiens

Association of Canadian Orchestras/Association des orchestres canadiens. National service organization formed in 1971 for Canada's professional, semi-professional, community, and chamber orchestras. In 1997 the ACO merged with the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras to form Orchestras Canada.

Association of Canadian Orchestras/Association des orchestres canadiens

Association of Canadian Orchestras/Association des orchestres canadiens. National service organization formed in 1971 for Canada's professional, semi-professional, community, and chamber orchestras. In 1997 the ACO merged with the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras to form Orchestras Canada. Despite these administrative changes, many of the policies and initiatives undertaken by the ACO during its lifetime have been adopted by Orchestras Canada.

The Association of Canadian Orchestras was formally constituted at its first conference in Winnipeg in 1972. Its mission was to assist in the development of Canadian orchestral life through the protection and enhancement of the artistic, administrative, and financial health of its member orchestras (115 in 1991) in all of the Canadian provinces. ACO maintained a joint Secretariat with the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras (OFSO) although each organization had its own board, activities, and projects. In 1988 the ACO adopted a policy of bilingual services and established regional and provincial committees.

The ACO provided a strong collective voice on issues of concern to the Canadian orchestral community such as the Goods and Services Tax, employment of Canadian musicians, taxation status of non-profit organizations and performing artists, and funding for cultural agencies. It submitted major briefs and appeared before government task forces.

The ACO maintained a network of communications with related national, international, and provincial organizations. It was a member of CCA, Canadian Association of Youth Orchestras, Canadian Centre for Philanthropy, and was represented on the board of the American Symphony Orchestra League. Beginning in 1976, ACO held annual meetings with the AF of M and OCSM (see unions). The ACO also held biennial national conferences, regional workshops and seminars (on fundraising, board development, public relations, artistic concerns), consulting services, education for young audiences, and maintained a volunteer committee network. In 1990 a professional training committee was established to determine the needs of the orchestra community in management and conductor training.

Orchestra Openings, an employment information service begun in 1976 with the aim of increasing the number of Canadian musicians in Canadian orchestras, made a significant contribution in this area - the representation having increased from 73 per cent in 1980 to 88 per cent in 1989. Eligible musicians could apply for mobility assistance, a project funded by Employment and Immigration Canada that assists in defraying the costs of auditions and relocation. The ACO also published bulletins available to associate members, outlining orchestral, conducting, management, and administrative vacancies. The ACO's library, now in the possession of Orchestras Canada, has an information centre that includes statistical reports and resource materials, and a Resource Centre for education and youth concert programming. The periodical Orchestra Canada/Orchestres Canada began to be issued in 1973 jointly by ACO and OFSO. It changed its name to FORUM upon the merging of the two organizations. The ACO was funded by grants from the Canada Council, the provincial and federal governments, sponsorships, donations, memberships, and revenue earned through its publications and conferences.

The ACO award, established in 1986, honoured members of the Canadian orchestral community. Recipients included Walter Homburger, Betty Webster, Franz Kraemer, and Russell Johnson in 1986; Rosemary Bell, Mario Duschenes, Sam Levine, and François Magnan in 1988; and J. Alan Wood and Alexander Brott in 1990.

In 1975 Betty Webster became executive director of both ACO and OFSO, a position she retained in 1991. ACO presidents have been Ezra Schabas 1972-4, Leonard David Stone 1974-6, Jorgen Holgersen 1976-7, Douglas Rishor 1977-80, Rosemary Bell 1980-2, Michael Allerton 1982-4, Hedley Roy 1984-6, and Dorothy Beckel 1986-8, succeeded by John Shaw.

The archives of the ACO for the years 1972-89 have been deposited at the National Library of Canada.

See also Orchestras; Youth Orchestras

Publications

Directory of Conductors in Canada/Annuaire des chefs d'orchestres au Canada (Toronto 1977)

Canadian 'Pops' Music Project (Toronto 1980)

Weait, Christopher and Reid, Wendy. Auditions are Just the Beginning: A Career Guide to Orchestras (Toronto 1981)

Tomorrow's Audience Today (Toronto 1983, 1988)

Wall, Geoffrey, and Mitchell, Clare. An Assessment of the Status of Research on the Performing Arts (Toronto, 1983)

The Community Impact of Canadian Orchestras (Waterloo 1984)

Fundraising Resource Handbook (Toronto 1990)

Tomorrow's Audiences Today II: The Guide (Toronto 1990)


Further Reading

  • 'Federation of symphony orchestras is formed,' CanComp, 61, Jun 1971

    'ACO Symposium: training and employment of orchestral musicians in Canada,' OCan, vol 6, Dec 1978-Feb 1979

    'The ACO brief to the Federal Cultural Review Committee,' OCan, vol 8, Apr 1981

    'ACO/OFSO reply to Task Force on Funding of the Arts in Canada,' OCan, vol 13, Jan, Mar 1986

    Hayden, Gene. 'Conference confronts the uncertain future of orchestras,' CanComp, 231, Jun 1988

    'ACO comparative reports: 1982/83-1986/87,' OCan, vol 16, Apr 1989

    'Orchestra Openings,' OCSM Newsletter, vol 13, Jan 1990

    'Conference preview,' OCan, vol 17, Mar 1990

    Crew, Robert. "Funding cutbacks put pressure on arts service organizations," Toronto Star, 16 March 1996

    Littler, William. "In tune with the times," Toronto Star, 7 July 1996

    Littler, William. 'Canadian Orchestras look for order,' Toronto Star, 9 June 2003