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Members of The Associates of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Titan: A Celebration of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary on April 27, 2024.

Taking a Final Bow

The Associates of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
May 22, 2024

The Associates of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra — a dedicated volunteer group within the TSO family — was founded in 1971. Their mission was to support TSO musicians by providing opportunities for them to play outside the TSO’s traditional concert venues, bringing classical music to community settings and to individuals who might not otherwise experience live classical music.

In the early 1970s, with the guidance and participation of TSO musicians, The Associates developed a chamber music series called The Small Concerts. For many years, The Associates presented five concerts from January to May, at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre on Bloor Street West. With a consistent quality of musicianship and ticket prices that was sustained over many years, The Small Concerts garnered a loyal following.  

In May 2018, The Associates announced to the audience at the last performance of the season that their funding had run out and, regrettably, it would be their final concert. Then, something extraordinary happened. An audience member was so moved that they stood up and pledged $10,000 on the condition that it would be matched. Other devoted patrons quickly pledged the necessary support, and The Associates announced that they would return, not in 2019, but for the 2020 season. The 2020 season was off to a great start, with acclaimed performances in January and February, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted The Small Concerts in its 47th season, and the organization could not recover.

In 2023, when The Associates decided to wind up operations officially, they worked with the TSO to explore possibilities for donating their remaining funds. They were pleased that their donation supported the purchase of a new bass clarinet for the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO)—the TSO’s high-level orchestral program for talented young musicians aged 22 and under, celebrating its 50th season in 2024. For many years, The Small Concerts featured musicians from the TSYO in one of the five chamber performances, and The Associates had previously supported the TSYO with bursaries, so it was fitting that their final donation would also support the youth orchestra.

The TSYO’s new bass clarinet is a professional quality instrument made by Buffet Crampon, a market-leading French manufacturer of wind instruments. It will have a tangible and long-lasting impact. With proper care, it could be used by the TSYO as a teaching instrument for 25 years or more.

I am profoundly grateful to The Associates of the TSO for their generous donation towards acquiring a high-quality bass clarinet for our young clarinetists,” said TSO Acting Associate Clarinet and TSYO Woodwind Coach Miles Haskins. “This contribution will significantly enhance the educational experience for our musicians, as access to top-tier instruments is often limited.” 

“Auxiliary instruments play a crucial role in comprehensive musical studies and performance opportunities. The bass clarinet, in particular, demands attention and expertise, and mastery of it enriches a clarinet player’s musical skills,” explained Haskins. “Not only that, but every top-level orchestra like the TSO has one position for each of the instruments in the woodwind section dedicated to the auxiliary instrument — piccolo (flute), bass clarinet (clarinet), English horn (oboe), and contrabassoon (bassoon) — and there are more performance opportunities for those who know the auxiliary instruments.”

“The TSYO’s new bass clarinet mirrors the top-level professional model I utilize in the TSO, ensuring our students have access to one of the best tools for their musical journey,” continued Haskins. “Overall, this donation is a significant milestone for our music program, and I am grateful to The Associates of the TSO for their support. The impact of this donation will be felt for years to come, and our students will undoubtedly benefit from it in numerous ways.”

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra are grateful to The Associates of the TSO for their donation, which supported the TSYO’s new bass clarinet, and for their generous support and camaraderie for over fifty years. If you're inspired to share your love of music, donate today, and your donation will be matched! Visit TSO.CA/Match for more information, or call Donor Services at 416.598.5311.

Lead Photo: Members of The Associates of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Titan: A Celebration of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary on April 27, 2024.