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Soundstreams grows Canada’s musical reputation worldwide

Lawrence Cherney, artistic director of Soundstreams. Photo by Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Lawrence Cherney is fond of quoting an old George Burns line: “If I had known I was going to live to 90, I would have taken better care of myself.”

These days, Mr. Cheney cites the bon mot withlight-hearted self-deprecation.Soundstreams,his Toronto-based music organization, is only a year away from celebrating a landmark anniversary of its own – its 30th.

But, like the old vaudevillian, Soundstreams has clearly been taking pretty good care of itself all along.

Indeed, while most arts groups are struggling to maintain budgetary status quo in the face of government cutbacks, Mr. Cherney has quietly built Soundstreams into a programming powerhouse – the biggest global producer of new Canadian music, bringing highbrow concerts to international audiences – as well as a model for creative sustainability in tough times.

In addition to an eclectic, annual concert series at Koerner Hall (featuring everything from tango to brass, choral music to opera, and percussion to medieval folk songs), Mr. Cherney, the organization’s artistic director, has established programs for educational outreach, composer residencies, a new digital platform for archived work, and an ambitious agenda of international touring featuring new music by Canadian composers and performers.

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