November 19 Update:
Dear OSYO Families,
As Halton Region moved into the “Red/Control” level for COVID-19 restrictions, OSYO has been monitoring public health information and medical advice. Our rehearsal protocols continue to comply with public health guidance. However, there is growing concern about rising case counts, increased hospitalizations and lagging capacity for contact tracing and notifications in surrounding areas.
Our first priority is keeping everyone safe. We have sought input from our medical advisor and board member, Dr. Andrew Healey. Andrew is Chair of the COVID Clinical Response Committee at William Osler Health System.
Based on current information, OSYO has determined that the safest course of action is to shift to virtual online rehearsals starting December 1 for at least two weeks and more likely, into early January. Attached is a letter from Dr. Healey detailing the medical considerations that informed the decision.
COVID-19 requires us all to be flexible and patient. OSYO will continue to monitor the situation and follow health advice. We will resume in-person string rehearsals as soon as it is safe to do so.
Musicians who have been participating in-person will join together with their conductor for online instruction and learning. Our conductors are working hard to prepare an engaging program that keeps everyone working on the repertoire and enjoying making music together, even if apart. Stay tuned for more information – and please stay safe and healthy.
The OSYO Board
November 16 Update:
The OSYO has been carefully monitoring the public health situation in Ontario. While our trial of small, in-person string instrument rehearsals has been going well, there remains concern about how to safely rehearse wind and brass instruments in person. The health and safety of our staff, musicians and families is always our priority. With the recent dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases in Ontario, and increased concern about airborne exposure, OSYO has made the difficult decision to suspend the 2020-2021 Youth Band season indefinitely. Musicians who have paid tuition fees will be reimbursed in full.
We know this is disappointing, especially because in some ways, music is needed more than ever. That is why OSYO is offering Youth Band musicians the option of listening in online to weekly Symphony rehearsals free of charge. If you choose to take part, OSYO would welcome a donation in an amount of your choosing, to help support the organization.
While the Symphony repertoire is more demanding, Youth Band students may want to take advantage of a low-risk way to challenge themselves. While this opportunity will not include a performance component, it does provide the chance to connect with other musicians, expand musical horizons and stretch skills. And who doesn’t need a weekly dose of Colin Clarke’s wit and charisma?
For symphony winds/brass musicians who have auditioned, OSYO will continue to welcome you to continue taking part online for weekly rehearsals. There will be no fee for participating in this manner and those who have paid fees in full will get a refund. If you choose to take part, OSYO would welcome a donation in an amount of your choosing, to help support the organization.
In some ways, music is needed more than ever. While we can’t see you in person, OSYO is striving to keep musicians involved and engaged as much as is safely possible. We have a great repertoire for winds/brass to learn. We are current planning for two virtual performances this season. The format of these are still being determined. Every effort will be made to integrate winds and brass musicians into these performances so that we can truly reflect the full breadth of our symphony.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org by November 24 to let us know your preferences in terms of interest in taking part online, refunds and any donation preferences.
We certainly hope we can return to making music with you soon!
The OSYO Board
October 1, 2020 Update:
We are excited about making music again this fall, and hope you are as well.
The staff and board have been hard at work developing a safe re-opening plan for the OSYO. We anticipate this plan could change based on government and health ministry guidelines, and will update the document accordingly. Our re-opening plan can be found HERE.
The OSYO’s mission is to offer a progressive orchestral experience that enriches a love of music in its young musicians. More critical than ever, in the current environment, this has to take place under the umbrella of the health and safety of our musicians and extended community.
To this end, OSYO has consulted with public health officials in Halton region and one of our board members who heads COVID response for a large hospital network in Ontario. Our re-opening plan is formulated and regularly updated based on their recommendations. Our plan is based on smaller cohorting and a hybrid experience of in person and on-line rehearsals.
We also plan to hold a virtual town hall (via Zoom) on Tuesday October 6 @ 7pm. Details will be provided in an email on Sunday Night (Oct. 4). All current and prospective musicians and parents are encouraged to attend. There will be a walk through of the re-opening plan, and an opportunity to ask questions.
A reminder that auditions are still open, so please continue to invite your friends to make some great music this year! Audition information can be found HERE
We request your confirmation of registration by Oct 8th (by payment of the registration fees to email@example.com). If a password is requested, please use OSYO2020 Your confirmation will also determine the size of individual cohorts, which we anticipate to cap at 12 musicians per cohort. Fee information can be found HERE.
Looking forward to a great, if somewhat unusual season!
May 27, 2020 Update:
Warmest regards to you and your families on behalf of the OSYO Board and conductors. We hope your families are well and getting used to the “new normal” that we find ourselves in.
Firstly, special recognition is due to our OSYO 2020 grads! Congratulations to all of you! We also officially welcome you to our group of OSYO Alumnae and hope you will stay connected with us as you embark on your own personal journeys. No doubt, we’ll be celebrating your successes for many years to come.
Secondly, families would have already received a partial refund for the balance of the season that was cancelled. To ensure the financial stability of OSYO, we undertook a thorough review of the financials in determining the appropriate refund. Our Board decided that the financial burden should be shared by all and included a temporary 25% reduction in contract fees. While our cash position remains healthy, we expect the pandemic will impact our income for the year. Thank you to all who responded and in particular to those who elected to donate their refund. We hope you found our approach acceptable and we sincerely appreciate everyone’s ongoing support.
As we look to prepare for the 2020-2021 season, we have been diligently reviewing research data, Orchestra Canada guidance, other peer groups and educators as well as advice from public health authorities. In any reopening or partial reopening, our top priority is the health and safety of our community. We are also mindful that we need to consider the potential for a second wave or individual outbreaks of the virus. We know that If these events do occur, there will be a requirement for the OSYO, and all of us, to be nimble, flexible and able to pivot at short notice.
While much remains uncertain, the OSYO is evaluating a number of possible scenarios for September. We are exploring how things might work in a restricted environment and if technology can play a role.
Scenario A: Normal operations. Normal OSYO operations are able to resume and continue throughout the season without disruption, with vigilant health and safety monitoring and protocols in place.
Scenario B: Season proceeds with restrictions.
In this scenario, OSYO operations are able to resume with some level of restrictions, such as physical distancing and restrictions on large gatherings. We may need to consider a blended approach of remote and altered in-person rehearsals, based on the number of musicians. This could also require limiting the numbers in our groups. We await details from the government as to social distancing protocols and restrictions which will impact timing and the number of musicians that can return to a single rehearsal space at one time. A delayed start is also a possibility in this scenario. We will further need to consider whether or not we can gather for concerts and are exploring potential for a larger space to accommodate anticipated social distance protocols.
Scenario C: Remote only season.
In this scenario, we explored a full remote or technology-based season. Our discussions led us to the conclusion that a technology based solution would not be practical given its limitations compared to a live rehearsal. However, there may be other ways in which the musicians can benefit from technology and music. We believe technology may be used as part of a hybrid solution to Scenario B or as a “stop gap” measure in case we need to pivot quickly should there be a “second wave” of COVID. We remain open for ideas and if any of our families have alternate ideas or technological expertise to strengthen the case for Scenario C, we welcome your input.
We encourage all musicians to consider auditioning early and if there are circumstance changes, we will remain flexible. A gauge of early interest is very important for our planning purposes.
We are working hard to ensure OSYO remains strong for years to come. Although there are many uncertainties, we are encouraged by the ongoing interest in OSYO and music in general during this pandemic. Our mission to offer ‘young musicians a progressive orchestral experience that ignites, encourages and enriches a love of music’ continues to guide us in all our actions. The curve appears to be flattening in Ontario and we can all look forward to a gradual easing of the lock-down restrictions in the coming months.
OSYO, Board Chair
OSYO Executive Director
April 2020 update:
Dear OSYO Community,
On behalf of the OSYO Board, we bring you and your family well wishes during this unprecedented time. Our world has certainly been turned upside down, forcing us to adjust to a new reality. Like all of you, the OSYO has been closely following the development of this pandemic and been guided by expertise from our Public Health officials.
We at OSYO want to assure you that the health and safety of our community is our primary goal. With this in mind, and after careful deliberation amongst the Board members, Executive Director and conductors, we have made the very difficult decision to terminate the 2019-2020 season with immediate effect, cancel all rehearsals, and the final concert. We feel that a decision now helps alleviate uncertainty for our musicians and families in a time that is otherwise fraught with chaos. We will direct our time and energy from this point on to our upcoming Spring auditions (format to be determined) and planning for our 2020/2021 season.
Allow us to share what this means going forward.
• For those musicians and families who had committed to what would have been an amazing trip to Newfoundland, you have received communication last week advising that a full refund will be issued. We are able to provide the refund due to the hard work and negotiations conducted by our Trip Committee by proactively seeking these funds from our tour operator who in turn had to get our deposit back from Air Canada, hotels,
transportation and festival organizers. We will revisit a trip when we are back to normal.
• Upon discussions with the Conductors, it was determined that formal, web-based group rehearsals would be impractical.
• We are exploring other potential opportunities for online engagement and Caron/Colin will be in contact when concrete plans are made. The OSYO recognizes that music, among its other attributes, helps calm the mind and offers a sense of peace. We are very fortunate to have invested and committed to developing this life-long musical interest for our children.
As a result of the cancellation of the balance of the season, the Board has deliberated at length on the topic of a refund. A partial refund will be offered to our member families for the 3rd term. Great consideration was given to each of our main stakeholders – the families, our staff – as well
as the fiscal stability and long-term sustainability of our organization. From the Board’s perspective, it was critical to consider our whole community as our top priority. With the above criteria in mind, keeping in mind that we have certain fixed costs, we have arrived
at a refund schedule that includes 100% refund of the Term 3 concert tickets and a 50% refund of registration fees adjusted for the final term (mid Mar to May). The exact amount is being calculated, since it will vary based on your orchestra affiliation (Sinfonia, Philharmonia, Symphony and Youth Band) and number of children. When accepting this refund, we humbly request that you consider these options:
1) Donation: OSYO is a charitable organization (#119043727 RR 0001) and can issue a donation receipt to any family that wishes to donate their refund back to the organization. As you know, we have been actively pursuing opportunities to increase our funding and would greatly appreciate consideration of a donation. If you choose this option, please
provide the name that you would like donation receipt to be issued to.
2) Credit: We will credit your family this amount towards the 2020/2021 season
3) Refund (by ETF transfer only): Please provide email address associated with your account
Kindly provide your preference by April 15th at the latest via the google form link in Alan’s weekly email that follows this communication. If we don’t hear back, we will default to Option 2 above and apply a credit towards registration for the 2020-21 season.
The Board also acknowledges the fantastic leadership and guidance of Alan and our conductors, Caron Allen and Colin Clarke. We are fortunate to have a great team to work with and we hope to be back to normal in the future.
Dealing with this situation is not something any of us could have anticipated in terms of the scale and uncertainty that has prevailed. We are all blessed to be part of the OSYO community and we will continue to communicate regularly and openly with you. We look forward to being part of your musical experience during the 2020-21 season. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for clarification or questions.