Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

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Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO)
Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg Manitoba 02.JPG
Short nameWSO
Location Winnipeg, Manitoba
Concert hall Centennial Concert Hall
Music director Daniel Raiskin

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) is a Canadian orchestra based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Founded in 1947, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at the Centennial Concert Hall. Including travelling performances, the WSO presents an average of 80 concerts per year, and also provides orchestral accompaniment to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Opera.



The WSO was established in 1947 and played its first concert on December 16, 1948 at the Civic Auditorium. Walter Kaufmann was the WSO's first music director from 1948 to 1958. Victor Feldbrill, the WSO's only Canadian music director to date, succeeded Kaufmann in 1958. The WSO initially performed out of the Civic Auditorium until April 1968, when the WSO moved to its present home in the 2,300-seat Centennial Concert Hall.

During the 1970s, the orchestra was conducted by former child protegy and Decca Records-recording artist Piero Gamba, who invited Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Itzhak Perlman, and others to perform with the orchestra. [1] Gamba's tenure was followed by Kazuhiro Koizumi, who conducted the orchestra through much of the 1980, including a number of recording sessions with CBC records. In 1992, then-music director Bramwell Tovey and the WSO's composer-in-residence Glenn Buhr, along with others, created the WSO's New Music Festival. In the 2011–2012 season, the WSO began the 'Sistema Winnipeg' programme, modelled after Venezuela's El Sistema, to provide music education to disadvantaged children in Winnipeg. [2]

Andrey Boreyko was the WSO's music director from 2001 to 2006. During his tenure, the musicians experienced a labour lockout in December 2001, and the mass resignation of the orchestra's board in the winter of 2003. [3] The musicians took a 20% pay cut and Boreyko donated a portion of his salary to the orchestra during the financially troubled 2002–2003 season. [4] [5] The orchestra musicians took an additional pay cut for the 2003–2004 season. [6] The orchestra retired its accumulated debt in September 2005. [7] In his final season as music director, Boreyko led six weeks of concerts, in contrast to 12 the season before. Overall, Boreyko received praise for his musicianship, but also criticism for a lack of community outreach, and not fulfilling an intention to establish residency in Winnipeg. [8] [9]

In February 2006, Alexander Mickelthwate was named the WSO's eighth music director. He took up the post in September 2006, with an initial contract of 3 years. [10] [11] In December 2008, Mickelthwate extended his contract with the orchestra through the 2012 season. [12] His Winnipeg contract was further extended through the 2015–2016 season. [2] In May 2017, the orchestra announced that Mickelthwate would conclude his music directorship of the orchestra after the close of the 2017–2018 season. [13]

In 2015, Daniel Raiskin first guest-conducted the WSO. In February 2018, the WSO announced the appointment of Raiskin as its next music director, effective with the 2018–2019 season. [14]


Music directors

See also

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  1. "WSO mourns the loss of former music director". Classic 107.
  2. 1 2 "WSO in the black for fifth year in a row". Winnipeg Free Press. 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  3. Morley Walker (2003-05-13). "Crowd-pleasers key to saving WSO". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  4. Morley Walker (2003-05-22). "Leaving WSO 'out of the question,' Boreyko says". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  5. Morley Walker (2003-06-27). "WSO awaits business plan". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  6. Morley Walker (2003-09-18). "Musicians forced to take a cut in pay". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  7. Morley Walker (2005-09-15). "Back-breaking deficit is officially retired". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  8. Morley Walker (2006-05-11). "Can we afford another saviour in a tux?". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  9. Morley Walker (2007-09-08). "WSO music director will rest his baton in Osborne Village". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  10. Morley Walker (2006-02-02). "Winnipeg 'lucky to have' new man with baton". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  11. Morley Walker (2006-09-02). "New WSO music director ready to pick up baton". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  12. Morley Walker (2009-01-17). "You wanna be a conductor? Learn how to act the part". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  13. Gordon Sinclair Jr (2017-05-24). "A bittersweet note". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2017-05-25.
  14. "WSO Appoints Daniel Raiskin Next Music Director" (Press release). Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. 15 February 2018. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  15. "Winter Poems: Music of Glenn Buhr". AllMusic Review by Joseph Stevenson

Further reading