TSO Statement on Leadership Change

TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – March 30, 2016) – The Board of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Jeff Melanson, President & CEO of the TSO, have mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties that he resign from his employment with the TSO. The TSO has accepted Mr. Melanson’s resignation effective March 29, 2016.

Richard Phillips, Chair of the Board of Directors of the TSO, thanked Mr. Melanson for the many positive contributions he has made to the TSO. Mr. Melanson has been instrumental in developing a new strategic plan, which has delivered on the following priorities:

  1. Artistic Excellence – The TSO created Canada Mosaic, selected by the Government of Canada as a Signature Initiative for Canada’s Sesquicentennial. This funding announcement marks the largest investment for the TSO in its history.
  2. Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra – In April 2015, the TSO moved ahead with a new strategy to make the TSYO tuition free. This important initiative has resulted in a 50% increase in applications and a much more diverse and accessible TSYO.
  3. Education and Community Engagement – The TSO has developed a plan for a city-wide music education programme with the aim of serving 345,000 students by 2020. This plan will remain a major priority of the TSO.
  4. Innovation – Mr. Melanson and his team created Sunday Night With The TSO, a weekly radio show on Classical 96.3 FM that serves over 44,000 listeners each week, developed new partnerships with the Polaris Music Prize, TIFF, SickKids among others, and have recently launched new initiatives to engage much more of the diversity of Toronto in the artistic planning of the TSO.

The TSO is proud of these initiatives and accomplishments and looks forward to building on them. To that end, the TSO Board of Directors has formed an executive search committee to identify a new CEO. In the meantime, Sonia Baxendale has agreed to accept the position of Interim CEO. As an experienced leader in industry and philanthropy, and a TSO Board member, Sonia has the in-depth knowledge of the organization and skill set to continue to execute and build on the strategy in place. She will step aside from her position on the Board and begin immediately as interim President & CEO until a new leader is appointed.

About the TSO

Founded in 1922, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, recognized internationally. Music Director Peter Oundjian leads the TSO with a commitment to innovative programming and audience development through a broad range of performances that showcase the exceptional talents of the Orchestra along with a roster of distinguished guest artists and conductors. The TSO also serves the larger community with TSOUNDCHECK, the original under-35 ticket program; the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra; and music-education programs that reach tens of thousands of students each year.

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3 Responses to TSO Statement on Leadership Change

  1. Given your multiple recent posts while on tour in Florida with the TSO, it would be enlightening to hear your take on the recent developments in terms of changes in their administrative leadership.

    • barczablog says:

      Thanks for asking! funny you should ask. After a frustrating week of bouncing from laptop to laptop (without a working access to the blog) i posted these announcements to get back in the saddle, and was working on a review of a TSO CD, that would serve as a natural segue.

      But as you’re asking, sure, i can tell you what i feel, recapping a bit of what i said on Facebook today. I don’t know the facts, just the allegations in their broadest outline. I was reminded of what happened to Bill Clinton, where we watched a good leader (as i see him) snagged over private matters pertinent to the bedroom not the Oval Office. The analogy isn’t perfect, given that the fund-raising part of the TSO job requires a level of trust that wouldn’t allow anything the least bit avant-garde. But that analogy simply captures my sense of the apparent irrelevance of a person’s private affairs, in a discussion of their performance. That the disclosures in the Globe & Mail have hurt Melanson’s career seems obvious to say, as i read between the lines of the mutual agreement between Melanson & the TSO.

      I have been wrong before, sometimes i trust too easily. But let me tell you what my gut told me. Maybe i am a sucker for famous people who pay attention to me? i easily get star-struck (as a few singers & conductors have already noticed), so perhaps i lost my objectivity. Even so, Jeff Melanson seems like a very bright man, a very funny guy with charisma. I did not see anyone taking credit for what he didn’t do, but a team-player, possibly someone who has discovered the virtues of humility (or displays/enactments thereof) recently, belatedly. But it seems sincere. The TSO’s recent success is likely a cumulative effect, from a combination of inputs, including several brilliant new players, a decade + of Peter Oundjian’s kind mentorship, great programming ideas (again from the team…Loie Fallis especially). The TSO will ride their current trajectory, hopefully without any loss of momentum. But my gut tells me that — quite apart from what’s happening with the McCain family– the other arts organizations in Toronto, at least the COC and Tafemusik, must have noticed how well the TSO were doing, with a younger than usual audience, and often a genuine buzz around their events. JM’s departure may have them breathing a sigh of relief, as they watch to see whether Roy Thomson Hall continues to be full. Nobody ever talks that way in public to be sure; but given the changing ground-rules for funding (especially the Canada Council), Melanson’s stated aims to make the TSO inclusive & innovative implicitly raise the bar for everyone. As we come to the Canadian Sesquicentennial it will be intriguing to watch the ways companies commemorate.

  2. Pingback: Toronto Symphony Scheherazade | barczablog

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