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Musicians blindsided by K-W Symphony’s cancellation of upcoming season

More than 50 musicians have been left in a lurch after the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony abruptly cancelled its upcoming season the day before they were set to return to work.

The symphony has cited financial challenges as the reason for the decision and says it won’t be refunding tickets. In a statement, it says ticket holders will be eligible for a tax receipt.

The 78-year-old symphony is the third largest in Ontario.

Violinist Jung Tsai says she and her colleagues found out via an email from management on Saturday night. Their season was supposed to start on Sunday.

“It was quite shocking to us,” said Tsai, who’s been with the symphony since 2017.

Tsai says for most of her colleagues, the symphony is their primary source of income.

They’ve also passed up other opportunities because they had already been offered contracts for the upcoming season.

“Financially it’s stressful for us for sure,” she said. “Because before we started, we agreed to all this work, so we were limited [from taking] other work.”

K-W Symphony violinist Jung Tsai started learning the instrument at age five. (Jeff Pickel/CTV Kitchener)

Now they’ve been left in limbo with plenty of unanswered questions.

“We are hoping to figure out what caused this because financial problems happen in many organizations it’s not just music… it’s important for us to know what went wrong that led to this stage because we think no matter how severe it is, it shouldn’t go like this – everything just shuts down suddenly.”

Online the reaction has been strong with hundreds showing love and support for the symphony and its members; others upset about the abrupt announcement and the lack of refund.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic says it’s too early to know where the symphony will go from here, but the city will do what it can to support it.

“In the meantime the real focus is on letting the symphony know we’re here to support them as they grapple the full scope of their decisions,” Vrbanovic said.

For Tsai and her colleagues, the music has stopped for now.

“Really, right now all we can do is wait,” she said. Top Stories

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