CBC Symphony Orchestra. Broadcasting orchestra (= CBCSO) formed in Toronto in 1952 under the musical direction of Geoffrey Waddington and maintained until 1964. It made its broadcast debut September 29, 1952 playing the overture to Rossini's La Cenerentola and Sibelius' Symphony No. 3. The orchestra's weekly broadcasts under Waddington and various guests were produced first by Terence Gibbs, then by Carl Little, and finally (until its dissolution in 1964) by Keith MacMillan. Of its 80 members, from 30 to 50 were Toronto Symphony Orchestra players.
Famous for its sight-reading abilities, the CBC SO established also a particular reputation for its performances of contemporary works, Canadian and other. Almost half its repertoire post-dated 1900. It premiered many CBC commissions, including Roger Matton's L'Horoscope, Harry Somers' Symphony No. 1, Passacaglia and Fugue, and Piano Concerto No. 2, Norman Symonds' Concerto Grosso, and John Weinzweig's Violin Concerto and Wine of Peace. Specific programs were broadcast in honour of Sir Ernest MacMillan and Healey Willan. Other highlights included the Canadian premiere of Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4 under Heinz Unger during the 1953-1954 season, the premiere of Violet Archer's Piano Concerto under Victor Feldbrill in 1958, with the pianist William Stevens, and performances of L.v. Beethoven's nine symphonies under Efrem Kurtz in 1959.
Primarily a radio orchestra, the CBC SO made a public debut May 16, 1955 under Waddington at Massey Hall. Concerts followed at the Montreal Festivals in 1955, at the 1955 Stratford Festival, at CBC Toronto's Carlton Theatre studios (where a 1958-1959 series boasted the North American conducting debuts of Colin Davis and Zubin Mehta), and at the International Conference of Composers July 12, 1960 under Walter Susskind. In 1961 the CBC SO travelled twice to the USA; under Waddington it gave the premiere on April 28 of Harry Freedman's Symphony No. 1 at the Inter-American Music Festival in Washington, and under Sir Ernest MacMillan it performed on October 23 & 24 at the United Nations in New York. As a result of its role in CBC radio's 1962 documentary Igor Stravinsky, Inventor of Music the CBC SO began an association with Igor Stravinsky and with the conductor Robert Craft, which included a concert April 29, 1962 at Massey Hall and participation in the celebrated series of Columbia recordings of I. Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg.
The orchestra's last public concert was given at the official opening March 7, 1964 of the Edward Johnson Building at the University of Toronto. By that time it had given some 380 concerts, 50 of them under Waddington, 72 under foreign conductors, the remainder under Canadians. The roster included John Avison, Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Thomas Beecham, Jean-Marie Beaudet, Pierre Boulez, Alexander Brott (20 times), Aaron Copland, Josef Krips, Roland Leduc, Charles Mackerras, Ettore Mazzoleni (31 times), Pierre Monteux, Boyd Neel (27 times), Edouard van Remoortel, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Paul Scherman (16 times), Heinz Unger (24 times), Heitor Villa-Lobos, and others. Soloists included Hyman Bress, Van Cliburn, Reginald Godden, Glenn Gould, Greta Kraus, Albert Pratz (the orchestra's concertmaster after 1953), Mary Simmons, and Jon Vickers.
The CBC SO was disbanded in 1964 after an agreement to recruit CBC Toronto orchestras from TSO ranks. Several of these later contract orchestras recorded or broadcast under the name CBC SO, CBC Orchestra, or CBC Toronto Orchestra.