Laurier's music faculty wants to help young musicians impacted by cancelled K-W Symphony season

The cancellation of the KW Symphony's 2023-24 season meant its youth orchestra program was also cancelled. (KW Symphony/ Facebook - image credit)
The cancellation of the KW Symphony's 2023-24 season meant its youth orchestra program was also cancelled. (KW Symphony/ Facebook - image credit)

Musicians and staff with Wilfrid Laurier University's faculty of music are looking at ways they can help young people who have been impacted by the cancellation of the upcoming K-W Symphony's season.

"We're exploring all sorts of options," Laurier's dean for the facult of music Cynthia Johnston Turner told CBC News.

Johnston Turner said they are still in the early stages of figuring out how to support the young musicians, but ideally, the faculty would make space for them in their youth orchestra and other youth music programs affiliated with the symphony.

"The will is there, the infrastructure is there, the faculty are there and we will serve the youth," she said.

The K-W Symphony (KWS) was set to begin its 2023-24 season on Wednesday, but announced Sunday evening it had to cancel the season, citing financial challenges.

A statement sent out Tuesday afternoon said KWS would require around $2 million in funding to proceed with the 2023-24 season, and points to "an unprecedented rise in costs following the global pandemic" as the reason.

KWS said it is considering all options "up to and including insolvency." Musicians with KWS have set up a GoFund me page to help raise the $2 million.

The cancellations included the symphony's youth orchestra program.

Rehearsals for youth orchestra members were set to start Sunday, Sept.17. Parents received an email Sept. 13, which was obtained by CBC News, reminding parents and young musicians about the first rehearsal and to pay their registration fee.

A separate email on Sept. 17 informed parents about the symphony's and youth orchestra cancellation. The email also said youth orchestra tuition would not be reimbursed and that a tax receipt would be issued instead.

LISTEN | How the cancellation of KW Symphony upcoming season is also impacting its Youth Orchestra program:

'I was really looking forward to rehearsal'

For 13-year-old Olivier Joyce in Waterloo, the youth orchestra has been a big part of his life and he was disappointed to learn the program was abruptly cancelled.

"I was really looking forward to rehearsal and getting to know the new music and I was getting to sit beside someone I know and my friend so I was looking forward to it," Joyce told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition Tuesday.

Joyce has been playing cello with the youth orchestra for more than five years. He is the third generation in his family to be part of the program.

Genvieve Schirm-Joyce, who teaches cello at Suzuki Talent Education of Waterloo, said not having the youth orchestra program is a big loss for young musicians.

"It is an opportunity for these young musicians to be able to experience playing with a larger group and to experience playing on stage at the Centre in the Square and to develop themselves not only as musicians, but as people," she told CBC News.

Johnston Turner said it's important for youth to have these programs now more than ever as communities are coming out of the pandemic.

"It's more important than ever that we provide these opportunities for student and our youth, and coupled with the concept that we're dealing with and that is the mental health of our youth," she said.

"Universities and university music programs were founded for the public good. We are here to serve students and serve communities," she said.