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Thread: Will Britain’s orchestras survive the Brexit exodus?

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    Senior Member TxllxT's Avatar
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    Default Will Britain’s orchestras survive the Brexit exodus?

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/...-brexit-exodus
    From the article:
    >>In the first month of Brexit, two British orchestras were publicly beheaded. The London Symphony Orchestra was shocked to discover that its music director, Sir Simon Rattle, had taken a better job in Munich, while the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was forced to accept that its luminous Lithuanian, Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla, was simply too hot to hold any longer. Some pundits quickly predicted a post-Brexit talent haemorrhage.

    Of the two decapitations, the LSO’s was by far the more painful. Rattle is a totemic figure, a tousle-haired Liverpudlian who learned his scores in public libraries and won a music scholarship from the local council. He is the ultimate welfare-state success story, with a knighthood and an Order of Merit to show for it. He spent 18 years converting rustbelt Birmingham into a musical mecca.

    That this personable, unpretentious, dedicated man should now declare his future in Europe and apply for German citizenship is a severe shock to the system. At the darkest hour, with concert halls shuttered and musicians facing visa hell, Rattle’s defection is being regarded, rightly or wrongly, as a loss of faith. I have heard the word ‘betrayal’ muttered by senior figures. His appearance last week at the head of a petition for renegotiating EU access for British musicians was greeted with hollow laughs. Not since Sir Thomas Beecham flitted off to America in the spring of 1940 has a conductor’s departure aroused such heated emotions.<<
    ...
    >>Is this a baton rush? Antonio Pappano, Covent Garden’s music director, described Britain’s situation this week as ‘-increasingly gruesome’. Vasily Petrenko, new chief of Beecham’s Royal Philharmonic, just took a second job in Moscow. When the halls re-open, let’s see who’s left.<<
    Last edited by TxllxT; Feb-02-2021 at 12:54.
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    Rattle (known opponent of Brexit though he may be) has publicly stated that his reason for moving is to be closer to his young family, and Tony Pappano's "gruesome" reference was to the number of Covid-related deaths.

    Next.

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    It's not just conductors. Some of our orchestras at all levels have EU members and staff. All of those staff will be taking a decision - stay, or join the Brexodus. I strongly suspect that many EU nationals will decide to leave just as soon as the pandemic is under control. Whether or not the UK has sufficient home-grown talent to fill those gaps remains to be seen. The UK may well struggle to attract high quality talent in this and other sectors for the foreseeable future.

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    Or not. There's simply no evidence either way.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    ...this doesn't help in fuelling speculation...

    https://www.gramophone.co.uk/classic...rector-in-2022

    I'm optimistic that the quality of our top bands will still attract the biggies..
    Last edited by mikeh375; Feb-05-2021 at 11:13.
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    First bit: only among those with a Brexit axe to grind, since yet again the explanation offered by the individual concerned makes it plain that their decision centres entirely on their personal circumstances. Agree wholeheartedly with your final para.though.

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    Even before Brexit and Covid, London's orchestras were in trouble. The Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic have been struggling for years. The London Symphony was fortunate in having Gergiev who kept the flames alive. Jurowski made the London Philharmonic interesting. Then BBC orchestras survive because of the taxpayers. But in today's world, where fewer and fewer people are interested in classical concerts, how many big orchestras can a city even as vast as London support? There's plenty of conductors available but long gone are the podium giants of yesterday: Beecham, Boult, Barbirolli...even Malcolm Sargent. Several other orchestras in the UK have had serious problems. Look how many are surviving on pops concerts now. Can you imagine the RPO doing movie music or rock concerts when Beecham ran it? There are many music lovers in the UK for sure - just go to the Proms concerts - it's thrilling to see so many people there. But it's likely unsustainable. With so many other societal needs, the lack of interest by most people, it's only a matter of time before several of the many orchestras in the UK call it quits.
    "It is surprising how easily one can become used to bad music" - F. Mendelssohn

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    ...all of which has been said both in the UK and abroad, and has stubbornly failed to materialise, for decades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal the Drummer View Post
    ...all of which has been said both in the UK and abroad, and has stubbornly failed to materialise, for decades.
    Exactly

    In terms of London, the BBC Symphony Orchestra is mainly a studio orchestra and will have new facilities once the new BBC Music Centre opens in Stratford.

    BBC to build a new legacy in East London - BBC Music

    Wimbledon Concert Hall

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    ^^

    The Philharmonia they are planning a new concert hall on what a former Supermarket site in Wimbledon, which Frank Gehry is designing.

    The London Symphony Orchestra may not be getting the new Music Centre that it had hoped form, however The upgrade of the Barbican Centre (its acoustics were ‘improved’ in 1994 and 2001) will still be a significant one, in terms of both cost and design and, as the process of appointing architects to carry out the work begins. The LSO has always enjoyed a very secure position with both City of London and Arts Council backing.

    The London Philharmonic are also financially secure in the Southbank Centre, and also have some good residencies including the ever expanding Country Opera Scene, with Garsington, the latest to announce new facilities.

    Conamar wins £11m Garsington Opera arts hub - Construction Enquirer News

    That leaves the RPO, who are the Cinderella Orchestra, although Cadogan Hall is a decent venue, but with 900 seats can not match the main concert halls. However the RPO have residencies across the UK, and if they were to struggle it has been suggested that they would be moved to another part of the country, with cities such as Nottingham mentioned in the past.

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    In response to Ardent's post above, if it is true that the major British orchestras are (mostly) all building and renovating concert halls, then they have large endowments and are receiving enough arts council funding to make the premise for this thread tenuous; that is, unless they are being grossly mismanaged, and drawing heavily upon their endowments to build and renovate these buildings, which can happen. That's what occurred in Philadelphia, for instance, when the Philadelphia Orchestra built their new Kimmel Center years back. The gigantic cost of the new building put a huge financial strain on the once fiscally responsible, well managed, & heavily endowed orchestra, putting them into debt (which was partly due to the unexpected, extremely high maintenance & energy costs of the new building, which took up virtually an entire city block!). As a result, the orchestra's once secure endowment, which had been so carefully built up over the decades--by so many generous patrons & donors, was drastically reduced.

    I admit that I don't know where the orchestra stands today, but I'd imagine they are still heavily in debt, and likely seek ways to better manage that debt each year, in order to stay afloat. Which is such a far cry away from how it used to be.

    But I doubt many arts organizations in the world today are that foolish. Unless I'm simply being naive, & they're all like the Philadelphia Orchestra...?

    As for London, the city has long been one of the world's great musical capitals, especially in modern times (if not the musical capital of the world, as Claudio Abbado claimed back in the 1980s, when I lived there). I doubt that's going to change. There are too many first class music schools in Britain churning out capable graduates every year. Hence, the most talented musicians today will likely remain keen on working in Britain. Besides, most conductors today are migratory birds anyway. It seems that no one wants to stay with one orchestra anymore, not in the long term. Which in certain cases I'm okay with, since I'm looking forward to them leaving to go elsewhere, & preferably not to any orchestra that I like. I don't think I've lived in a time where there are so many overrated, mediocre conductors, and the ones that I do like keep dying, or retire.
    Last edited by Josquin13; May-17-2021 at 20:34.

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    In terms of the cancellation of the Barbican's Centre for Music, it was due to several factors.

    The first being the fact that the City of London had already committed to support the Museum of London, which is relocating to a new building in Smithfied at a cost of £337 million, although this cost may rise.

    The second reason being the current problems related to the Pandemic and problems relating to performing in Europe.

    The Barbican Centre will however be subject to a massive and expensive redeveloped and this includes the Concert Hall design and acoustics, which will be put out to International competition amongst architects.

    Money will also be invested in supporting the LSO and Guildhall School, through these difficult times.

    The Wimbledon Hall is still looking to proceed and Frank Gehry will be releasing his plans.

    As for the current EU problems, they are subject to negotiation, whilst UK orchestras may have better access to Angloshere countries through a potential future CZNZUK deal.

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