Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony cancels upcoming concerts and practices

The future appears uncertain for the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

On Saturday, the director of operations emailed members of the Youth Orchestra Program saying that it would not be “commencing our season this week.”

The email from Laurie Castello was shared with CTV Kitchener.

“Scheduled concerts, Youth Orchestra activities and other programs for the ’23-’24 season will not be proceeding,” Castello wrote. “Please do not attend any rehearsals scheduled for Sunday through Wednesday this week.”

Members of the Youth Orchestra had very little notice of the cancellation.

Two people told CTV they received an email reminder for Sunday’s practice on Friday night, and just 24 hours later, got the cancellation email from Castello.

In response to a member’s question via email, Castello responded: “Unfortunately I don’t have any additional information that I can share with you right now. We’re working as quickly as we can through a series of steps with the Board, Foundation and others. We’ll provide more information as quickly as we possibly can, but please know that it will take a little bit of time before that happens.”

The symphony’s website currently shows no upcoming performances or events on its calendar.

Their last social media posts, dated from earlier this month, promoted the start of their 2023-2024 season and planned concerts on Sept. 20, Sept. 22, Sept. 23, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. The links to its concert page also turn up no upcoming events.


CTV reached out to the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony for a statement Sunday.

An email from Devon Klaas, the director of audience engagement, said: “KWS will not be commencing the season this week. Scheduled concerts and all other activities (such as Youth Orchestra and Bridge to Music)… for the 2023/2024 season will not be proceeding. Based on the financial situation of the symphony, it simply wasn’t possible for the organization to continue with our planned events.”

No further details have been shared about the remainder of the season.


The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony was founded in 1945 to accompany the Grand Philharmonic Choir, while the Youth Orchestra was formed in 1966.

Over its 78 year history, the symphony has evolved into a professional orchestra that has toured across Canada, Europe, South America and Asia.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony said on its website that it performs more than 222 concerts a year.


According to the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s website, they “faced a challenging period” after the departure of Martin Fischer-Dieskau in 2003 due to a conflict within its organization.

In 2006, they launched a “Save our Symphony” campaign in an attempt to avoid declaring bankruptcy.

The organization managed to raise $2.3 million, which allowed it to continue operating.

In January 2023, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony made an appeal to council for the Region of Waterloo saying the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions affected their potential profits.

“We are having to weather what is a temporary ‘perfect storm’ in terms of cash flow and budget,” musician Ian Whitman said at the meeting.

The organization added that the financial challenges continued into their 2022-2023 season, despite a rebound in ticket sales and increased funding from donors.

The symphony asked council for a special one-time grant of $100,000.

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