Orchestra Shuts Down For Saying Singers Should Be 'Fit And Slim'

Sheraton Cadwell Orchestras in Toronto was forced to close after management asked singers who were not "fit and slim" to wear loose-fitting dresses.

Roy Thompson Concert Hall at night surrounded by lit city buildings.

Toronto, Canada's volunteer Sheraton Cadwell Orchestras was forced to close after a deeply offensive email from their management was made public. In the email, singers who were judged as not "fit and slim" were asked to wear loose-fitting dresses to hide their "dietary indulgences."

"I am absolutely disgusted with this email that was sent to me and the other vocalists who sing with this particular orchestra," wrote singer Sydney Dunitz on Facebook, prompting backlash so severe that it cost the orchestra their funding. According to the BBC, other singers also spoke out against the body-shaming language and the email quickly went viral.

"As per our highly selective casting requirements for vocal artists taking on a prominent leading role on stage, only singers who are physically fit and slim (or at the very least, those who know how to dress strategically/suitably in order to not bring attention to their temporary physical/dietary indulgences) would be showcased with our boutique orchestras," the email read.

Jazz singer Victoria Leone told the Canadian Broadcasting Company that she emailed the management back to express her anger over their narrow-minded idea of who "looks good" and quit her volunteer work with the orchestra. She says that she was offered no apology, but instead an updated version of their request with the body-shaming sections highlighted in red to make their opinion even more clear. It wasn't until Sheraton Cadwell was closing and its management resigning that Leone received an email with language that resembled something like regret.

"We sincerely apologize for any embarrassment/harassment that you may experience from media representatives or other individuals/parties as a result of misconstrued/malicious allegations and extremely negative/destructive/evil intent," it read. Not exactly what the singers were hoping for.

Yet, Leone told The Star that she was disappointed to learn that the orchestra had been forced to close over the incident. 

"Shutting down the organization was never the intent from any of the girls who've spoken out against the body-shaming email," Leon explained. While frustrated by the orchestra's superficial standards, there had been hope of a sincere apology, that this would ultimately be a learning experience, and that everyone could get back to making music. 

Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr, Alan Levine

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