By Meghan Power
“We have a wide range of musicians, of all ages and all walks of life,” says Carlos Foggin, founding member and conductor. “This is just one of many things that makes RMSO unique compared to professional Orchestras. Many of our musicians have other jobs, but music is their passion and they have studied it all their lives. Our youngest performer is 19 and our oldest performer is 80. We also have many student-performers who are on the path to being professional Symphony orchestra musicians. In the last six years, five of our younger members have been hired by professional orchestras.”
This funding was particularly important to RMSO, in 2021, because of how deeply impacted they were by the restriction of public events and performances due to the pandemic. Thanks to CADA’s Rise Up funding, RMSO was able to cover the cost of the venues and performers. “Being able to host smaller events was essential for many small community venues that ran the risk of bankruptcy,” explains Carlos. “And allowed us to guarantee our performers were paid regardless of ticket sales.” They were also able to offer a special concert that was free for essential service workers and helped to bring a bit of respite for many workers who had been working over-time, fighting burn-out and risking their personal health in unprecedented conditions.
“This type of funding is important to an organization like RMSO. Generally, traditional symphony orchestra events happen in large city centres and due to the huge scale of the art form, tickets are prohibitively expensive and not accessible to everyone who may want to experience the beauty of a live classical concert,” says Carlos. “RMSO strives to ensure that live classical performances are accessible to those who may have felt like larger symphony concerts were inaccessible to them for any number of reasons: financial, status, education, or transportation.
“Our work helps contribute to local economies. Most orchestras are in a city and perform in one main, large performance venue, or perhaps they tour a symphony circuit that only features them at large concert halls. So, in turn, it’s always nearby businesses that reap the benefit of pre and post concert business. RMSO allows for local businesses, within the community they are performing, to also reap the benefits of pre and post concert business.”
One of RMSO’s main goals is to make western classical music more accessible. Carlos feels that the funding opportunity that CADA offered made a big impact for the orchestra, “It’s amazing to see how this new funding model, from CADA, opens opportunities for new performing venues, and audiences who may have never considered attending a classical concert before. Also, CADA made the process from application to cheque-in-hand very easy and quick, which helped us keep our programming relevant to changing times.”