Many arts groups throughout the province have suffered funding losses from the Ontario government’s cutbacks and changes in the funding priorities of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).
Locally, this is affecting one of Deep River’s longest standing organizations, the Deep River Symphony Orchestra (DRSO).
This September, as the Orchestra enters its 67th season, it will do so with the knowledge that it will have to absorb a significant financial shortfall.
After decades of uninterrupted assistance from the OAC, the orchestra was recently informed that its application for funding for the current season was being unceremoniously rejected.
The OAC grant had recently represented roughly 17 per cent of the annual operating costs.
Since the orchestra has managed its financial affairs prudently, it will be able to weather this loss but will have to review and curtail its future plans due to the likelihood of the lack of OAC funding.
In its 60-plus years as an important cultural institution in the Ottawa Valley, the orchestra has done much more than simply provide concerts.
With its unique blending of players young and old, the orchestra was a feeding ground for the development of several musicians who went on to careers in music performance and education (Matthew and Megan Jones, Cynthia Steljes, Valerie Selander, Megan Morris, Marion Arthur, Brandon Wilkie, Josh Hopkins, Kevin Myers, April Verch).
Still others are currently involved in post-secondary studies in music (April Morris, Alexandra King, Patrick Burton).
And there are at least two composers who benefited from the existence of the orchestra (Pierre Gallant, Trevor Grahl).
It has also hosted some of Canada’s finest performers including the Gryphon Trio, David Jalbert, Jamie Parker, Peter Shackleton, Karen Donnelly and Erika Raum.
The orchestra has collaborated with various community organizations, most significantly in many large-scale productions with the Deep River Choral Group, and has highlighted many local and Valley musicians in solo roles.
Locally, DRSO musicians have often supported the various musical theatre productions presented by the former Deep River Musical Society, the Deep River Players and Mackenzie Secondary and Community Schools.
The orchestra has also provided dozens of “outreach” programs to the local school system as it attempts to fill the partial void that is growing in the music education of our youth.
If you will pardon the pun, the orchestra has also been “instrumental” in the establishment and growth of Deep River’s Summermusic program.
Beyond all of the above, the orchestra has had an inestimable effect on the lives of countless individuals.
At its best, players and audience alike are lifted beyond their everyday existence in a celebration of the creativity of the human spirit. This is the magic and power of live music!
While the orchestra may be forced to cut back on its activities, they do not plan on going away any time soon.
Your support is as simple as attending their concerts.
Photo: The Deep River Symphony Orchestra and Deep River Choral Group in concert in 2016.
> Published in the NRT August 21, 2019