The CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1938 by Ira Dilworth, who appointed John Avison conductor. Similar orchestras in Vancouver had antedated the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra: the CNRV Concert Orchestra (pre-1934) under Percy Harvey; another, heard around 1935 on CRCV's 'Jewels of the Madonna,' with Jean de Rimanoczy as conductor; and the CBR Concert Orchestra. The CBR Symphony Orchestra, founded also by Dilworth and conducted by Arthur Benjamin, flourished in the early 1940s. The CBC Radio Orchestra originally comprised 25 musicians and was increased to 35 in 1952.
Their concerts are still regularly broadcast on CBC Radio Two, and also on occasion on Radio One and CBC TV's arts program "Opening Night." The musicians, who play together only 70 days a year, are among the best sight-readers in North America.
Conductors and Producers
The CBC Radio Orchestra's broadcasts were produced by Ernest Morgan 1938-42, David S. Catton 1942-3, James Finlay 1943-4, John Barnes 1944-8, Robert Allen 1948-52, Robert Turner 1952-66, Don Campbell 1967-8, Norman Newton 1968-79, George Laverock 1979-89, and by Karen Wilson since 1989.
Repertoire, Commissions, Premieres
The CBC Radio Orchestra's repertoire encompasses the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, but it has gained most recognition for its support of contemporary music. International composers whose works it has performed include John Cage (whose 1976 CBC commission resulted in Lectures on Weather), and Peter Maxwell Davies (who wrote the oratorio Job for the opening of Vancouver's Chan Centre in May 1997). Others include Berio, Britten, Carter, Copland, Dallapiccola, Fernyhough, Fricker, Hartmann, Henze, Maderna, Nono, Piston, Schoenberg, Sowande, and Stravinsky.From 1963 to 1988, the CBC Radio Orchestra premiered more than 200 works by some 80 Canadians: Murray Adaskin, Michael Conway Baker, Gerald Bales, John Beckwith, Peter Berring, Lorne Betts, Stephen Chatman, Jean Coulthard, Maurice Dela, Brenton Dutton, Malcolm Forsyth, Srul Irving Glick, Theo Goldberg, Derek Healey, Jacques Hétu, Ka Nin Chan, Udo Kasemets, Talivaldis Kenins, Peter Paul Koprowski, Ian McDougall, Bruce Mather, Phil Nimmons, Jean Papineau-Couture, Barbara Pentland, Godfrey Ridout, Paul Ruhland, R. Murray Schafer, Frederick Schipizky, Norman Symonds, Robert Turner, John Weinzweig, Elliot Weisgarber, and Gerard Wuensch. Notable later commissions include works by John Estacio, Christos Hatzis, and Gary Kulesha. The CBC Radio Orchestra has also recorded Nikolai Korndorf's The Smile of Maud Lewis.
Guest Conductors and Soloists
Over the years guest conductors of the CBC Radio Orchestra have included Raffi Armenian, Kees Bakels, Michel Corboz, Victor Feldbrill, Serge Garant, Monica Huggett, Milton Katims, Gary Kulesha, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Ettore Mazzoleni, Geoffrey Moull, Harry Newstone, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jaap Schroeder, Georg Tintner, Owen Underhill, Heinz Unger, and Jon Washburn. Most of Canada's leading concert artists have appeared as soloists.
In 1969 a 26-member ensemble, drawn from the orchestra and governed by a separate board, began to tour as the Vancouver Radio Orchestra. Under Avison the smaller ensemble performed until 1980 in western Canada, the Arctic, Alaska, and Montana, and as far east as Ottawa.
In 1980 the CBC Radio Orchestra began to offer more public concerts, and Gardiner began to verse the ensemble in Baroque performance practice, introduce period bows and tuning, and concentrate on 17th- and 18th-century works. Later, under Bernardi, the orchestra returned to a more broadly based repertoire, but with special emphasis on contemporary music, especially by Canadian composers.
In the fall of 1988 the orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary by inaugurating the Avison Series, a set of annual public concerts.
Due to the doubling of players with the VSO and to the expansion and refinement of regular orchestras in Canada, the CBC Radio Orchestra's mandate has become greatly reduced. During its heyday under Avison, the orchestra was heard weekly on CBC Radio, but by 1985 broadcasts had been reduced to 18 concerts per year. By 2006 the orchestra was giving two concert series, named Spring and Fall, in addition to its broadcast engagements; each series comprises three public concerts, usually performed at the Chan Centre.
Bach Brandenburg Concertos. Bernardi conductor. 1983. 2-CBC SM-5028-2/(No. 2) CBC BHS-CD-300
- Piano Concerti BWV 1056, 1052, 1053. Hewitt piano, Bernardi conductor. 1986. CBC SM-5065
- Cantatas No. 4, 140. Landry soprano, Heppner tenor, Pedrotti baritone, Wedd organ, Tudor Singers, Riddell conductor. 1984. CBC SM-5029/(No. 140) CBC BHS-CD-300
Baker Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra. Silverman piano, Avison conductor. private recorder
- Fanfare to Expo 86; Suite from 'Planet for the Taking'; Four Songs for Ann (Mortifee voice); Counterplay for Viola & String Orchestra (Dann viola); Concerto for Flute & Strings (Piccinini fl); Concerto for Piano & Chamber Orchestra (Silverman piano). 1988. CBC SMCD-5107
Baroquefest: Purcell - Handel - Bach. Vancouver Chamber Choir, Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne, Washburn conductor. 1986. CBC SM-5075
Beckwith Music for Dancing - Ives Symphony No. 3. Avison conductor. 1966. CBC SM-47/(Beckwith) 5-ACM 26
Bryars I have heard it said that a spirit enters. . . Holly Cole voice, Gwen Hoebig violin, Gavin Bryars double bass, Owen Underhill conductor. 2002. CBC 5223
Clarinet Concerti: Cardy - Thrower - McDougall. Rapson, Valdepeñas, McCartney clarinet, Bernardi conductor. 1988. CBC SMCD-5094
Contemporary Canadian Compositions for Orchestra: Turner Eidolons - Healey Arctic Images. Avison conductor. 1974. CBC SM-265/(Turner) 7-ACM 15
Copland Concerto (clarinet, strings) - Weinzweig Divertimento No. 3 (bsn, strings). de Kant clarinet, Zukerman bassoon, Avison conductor. 1976. CBC SM-317
Coulthard Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. Silverman piano, Bennett conductor. (1982). 6-ACM 10
Dittersdorf Four Ovid Symphonies. Avison conductor. 1972. CBC SM-198
Dvorák Legends, Opus 59. Avison conductor. 1974. CBC SM-283
Entre Amis: Willan - Ridout - McDougall - Coulthard - Komorous - Prévost - et al. McCartney clarinet, Trowsdale violin, Gerbrecht trumpet, Cole english horn, Rudolph fl, Bernardi conductor. 1985. 2-CBC SM-5050-2/6-ACM 28
Fauré Orchestral Music. Avison conductor. (1977). CBC SM-298
Geminiani The Enchanted Forest - Vivaldi Concerto in D. Ritchie, Wilcock baroque violin, Gardiner conductor. 1982. CBC SM-5017/Mus H Soc MHS-512137Z (CD)
Handel Coronation Anthems. Vancouver Chamb Choir, Bernardi conductor. 1983. CBC SM-5031/(Zadok the Priest) CBC BHS-CD-300
- Four Organ Concertos. McLean organ, Bernardi conductor. 1984. CBC SM-5041/(Opus 4,No. 6) CBC BHS-CD-300
- Water Music. Bernardi conductor. 1984. CBC SM-5032/(Suite No. 2) CBC BHS-CD-300
- 'The King Shall Rejoice' - Haydn Te Deum. Vancouver Bach Choir, Streatfeild conductor. 1971. CBC SM-365
Haydn Orlando Paladino Overture; Symphonies No. 67 and 68. Avison conductor. 1970. CBC SM-126
- La Fedeltà Premiata Overture; L'Infedeltà Delusa Overture; Symphony No. 49. Bernardi conductor. 1986. CBC SM-5057
Haydn - Galuppi - Boccherini - Moeran. Avison conductor. ca 1966. CBC SM-20
Haydn - Méhul - Mozart. Avison conductor. 1971. CBC SM-191
Haydn - Somers Five Songs for Dark Voice (Mailing mezzo) - Mozart. Avison conductor (?). 1968. CBC SM-73
Martin y Soler Una Cosa Rara. Newstone conductor. 1973. CBC SM-217
McDougall Three Canadian Folksongs. Gannon guitar, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Washburn conductor. 1988. CBC SMCD-5097
McPhee - Morawetz - Buczynski. Avison conductor. 1975. CBC SM-308
Milhaud, Maurice, Forsyth, Sowande. Bernardi conductor. 1994. SMCD 5131
Mozart Serenade K320; Two Marches K408. Avison conductor. 1970. CBC SM-128
- Piano Concerti No. 9, 16. Cheng piano, Bernardi conductor. 1991. CBC SMCD-5104
-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Concertos. John Kimura Parker, James Parker, Ian Parker piano, Bernardi conductor. 2006. CBC 5240
Mozetich Affairs of the Heart. Juliette Kang violin, Julia Shaw and Nora Bumanis harp, Bernardi conductor. 2000. CBC 5200
Music and Musicians of Canada II: Turner Symphony for Strings. Avison conductor. (1967). RCI 214/RCA CCS-1008/(Turner) 7-ACM 15
Music by Talivaldis Kenins: Violin Concerto; Fourth Symphony. Staryk violin, Avison conductor. 1975. CBC SM-293/4-ACM 33 (CD)
Music by the Sons of Bach: C.P.E. Bach - J. C. Bach - W. F. Bach. Avison conductor. 1971. CBC SM-164
Music from Spain: Arriaga Symphony in D Major - Falla Three Cornered Hat. Avison conductor. 1973. CBC SM-232
Ravel - Milhaud - Roussel. Avison conductor. 1970. CBC SM-127
Respighi Ancient Airs and Dances. Bernardi conductor. 1985. CBC SM-5051
Revueltas - Respighi - Mendelssohn. Avison conductor. 1971. CBC SM-166
Ridout Frivolités canadiennes - Archer Sinfonietta. Avison conductor. 1974. CBC SM-226/(Archer) 7-ACM 17/(Ridout)4-RCI 513
Rossini - Grétry - Cherubini - Cimarosa. Avison conductor. 1971. CBC SM-165
Schafer Hymn to Night. Turofsky soprano, Bennett conductor. 1979. CBC SM-364
Schubert Symphony No. 3 - Dvorák Czech Suite. Avison conductor. 1974. CBC SM-266
Six Orchestral Overtures: Mozart - Schumann - Mendelssohn - Schubert - Weber - Cherubini. Avison conductor. 1971. CBC SM-190
Souvenirs of Scandinavia: Grieg - Sibelius - Nielsen. Bernardi conductor. 1986. CBC SM-5064
Strauss - Chabrier-Francaix - Purcell - Champagne - Holst. Avison conductor. 1972. CBC SM-214/(Champagne) 4-ACM 30
Stravinsky and Somers. Bernardi conductor. 1996. CBC 5161
Tableau: Forsyth - Ridout - Freedman - Coulthard - Nimmons. Forst mezzo, Bernardi conductor. 1987. CBC SM-5081
Theatre Music: Purcell - Handel. Argenta soprano, M. Huggett conductor. 1988. CBC SMCD-5091
Tippett - Schoeck - Elgar. CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra strings, Avison conductor. 1970. CBC SM-124
Three Modern Romantics: Nielsen - Moeran - Delius. Aitken fl, Avison conductor. 1971. CBC SM-189
Turner Variations on the Prairie Settler's Song - Healey Primrose in Paradise - Mather Musique pour Rouen. Avison conductor. 1976. CBC SM-331/(Mather) 4-ACM 9/(Turner) 7-ACM 15
- Children's Overture; Nocturne - C.P.E. Bach - J.C. Bach - Mozart. Avison conductor. (1969). RCI 334/AofD SDD-2121/(Turner) 7-ACM 15
Vaughan Williams - Brott Ritual - Elgar - Mercure Divertissement. Orford String Quartet, Streatfeild conductor. 1984. CBC SM-5044/(Mercure) 4-ACM 35
Weinzweig Divertimento No. 3 for Bassoon and Strings - Schafer Partita for String Orchestra. Zukerman bassoon, Avison conductor. Ca 1965. CBC SM-15
Willan - Adaskin - Mather - Healey. Healey organ, Zukerman bassoon, Avison conductor. 1970. CBC SM-143/(Mather) 4-ACM 9/(Willan) 5-ACM 11/(Adaskin) 5-ACM 23
Willan Concerto in C Minor - Schumann Overture, Scherzo and Finale, Opus 52. Henig piano, Avison conductor. 1973. CBC SM-205/(Willan) 5-ACM 11
Cameron Wilson Stuart McLean's Canada. McLean narrator. 2006. CBC 5242
Author Bryan N.S. Gooch, Max Wyman, Evan Ware
Godfrey, Stephen. 'CBC Orchestra calls its own tune,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 7 Nov 1985
Wyman, Max. 'The CBC Vancouver Orchestra: celebrating 50 years,' Radio Guide vol 8, Oct 1988
Jordan, Robert. "CBC Radio Orchestra at 65," The Music Scene, Sep-Nov 2003
Links to Other Sites
K-os & The CBC Radio Orchestra - "Burning to Shine"
View a video clip of Canadian hip-hop artist K-os and the CBC Radio Orchestra performing "Burning to Shine." From YouTube.
Review: CBC Radio Orchestra and Louis Lortie
A review of a concert featuring the CBC Radio Orchestra and pianist Louis Lortie. From the "Vancouver Sun."
CBC kills radio orchestra
An article about the demise of the CBC Radio Orchestra. From the canada.com website.
Friends of Canadian Music Award
The website for the Friends of Canadian Music Award, a joint venture between the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre that honours those who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to Canadian composers and their music.