The Double Bass and the Polar Bears

What an odd title for a blog, you might say, but reading all the news about global warming and the possible extinction of polar bears persuaded me to write this.

For 17 years I was principal bass of the CBC Vancouver Radio Chamber Orchestra. Funding was much better then, and nowadays they are barely hanging on, due to continual budget cuts. It may not be generally known but they are the only radio orchestra now in existence in North America.

In the 1970’s when the budget was larger we used to go on tours all over Canada and to Washington State, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

It was, and is, an orchestra numbering about thirty players. Its mission was to play Canadian music, plus a hefty dose of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven etc. and was conducted by John Avison; the producer being Robert Turner. The tours were organized by George Zukerman, who was also a virtuoso bassoonist.

One of the tours in the Seventies was to the Arctic, where we played at Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, Alert Bay etc. playing mostly in school gyms and auditoriums to very appreciative audiences.

Although it was May, sometimes we had to travel on the Beaufort Sea, which was frozen, in Bombardier vehicles fitted with tank tracks,which made us very apprehensive. With global warming I think we would be much more apprehensive nowadays.

At Churchill, Hudson Bay, Manitoba, I took a walk out of town one morning to the local garbage dump where I was told there were polar bears. I wasn’t disappointed for there must have been more than a dozen there. I wonder how many are there today.

See also my Requiem for an Orchestra series, on the CBC Radio Orchestra, elsewhere in this blog.

Requiem 1, Requiem 2, Requiem 3, Requiem 4.

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  1. […] the writings here of Robert Meyer who for many years was a member of the CBC Radio […]


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