#WePlayOn in the London Community News

Moving forward the mantra of #WePlayOn musicians


Despite some confusion surrounding their current name, the mantra of the #WePlayOn musicians speaks well as to how the group has endured since the bankruptcy of the former Orchestra London.

London Community News

By Sean Meyer

Thea Boyd recognizes there is more than a little confusion around the name taken on by London’s professional orchestral musicians  — #WePlayOn Musicians of the former Orchestra London.

Boyd, an orchestra viola player and chair of the group’s communications committee, is hoping an upcoming concert at Museum London will remind people of not only the quality of music being offered, but also that despite a nod to the past, the group is all about the future.

“The only reason to use the words Orchestra London at all is just so people understand it is the same quality of music; it’s the same professional musicians,” said Boyd, who has been a member since 1988. “We aren’t amateur musicians, or a community orchestra, the name points to that, but we recognize the name is confusing.”

The concert Boyd refers to is set for Friday, Nov. 13, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. The performance begins at 6 p.m.

The idea of the evening, Boyd said, is to provide Londoners an opportunity to enjoy a complimentary glass of wine while listening to a short selection of classical and contemporary music.

Guests are invited to mingle among the musicians, and be entertained by an award-winning and Juno-nominated conductor Kevin Mallon.

Boyd said the museum concert is “a totally new thing,” for the #WePlayOn musicians.

The interactive event will offer a different look at the musicians, Boyd said, but it’s one designed to also put a different face forward to London’s business and corporate community.

For example, the museum is donating its lobby for the concert while the Fanshawe College corporate communications and public relations students are hosting the event.

These partnerships, Boyd said, speak a great deal towards the future the #WePlayOn musicians are hoping to embrace.

“These partnerships are going to be really important for us. We really need them, every orchestra does. The days of government funding, well you couldn’t possibly run an orchestra on grants alone,” Boyd said. “You need private donors and you need corporate sponsorship. That is a problem for us given what has happened. You can understand businesses or corporations who were sponsors before would be very leery of becoming attached to anything with the name Orchestra London unless they see a solid business plan.”

That plan, Boyd said, is rather unique for professional musicians.

If a concert would cost $10 and the musicians couldn’t afford to pay the per service fee (which can be either a rehearsal or a concert) of say, in this case, $1, then the musicians have agreed they would be sliding scale.

“If we can’t pay that, maybe we would be paying ourselves maybe $.50 per concert. We would never be in the position to owe money,” Boyd said. “Which is pretty remarkable for musicians to agree to. From that you understand what we are all about. But you can’t live on that. That is why we have to move forward.”

And in case anyone is further confused about it, Boyd is quick to point out the group is moving forward together.

The #WePlayOn musicians include 45 contract positions.

Of those 45 people, only one person has taken a one-year job somewhere else, in this case, Nova Scotia.

It isn’t a permanent position, only a one-year leave, which Boyd said points to the ultimate truth about the #WePlayOn musicians.

“We really are like a family. We are kind of like a hockey team. There is a camaraderie that goes along with being part of a group,” Boyd said. “We are just people. We aren’t a bunch of elite, noses-in-the-air, not in touch with reality. We are just regular people looking to bring orchestra music to people’s lives.”