Another orchestra on the brink

Another orchestra on the brink


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2011

Over the past couple of months I have been hearing of orchestras taking longer and longer to pay musicians on return from overseas tours. One of the culprits was the London Mozart Players, an excellent chamber orchestra based in the southern satellite town of Croydon. 

LMP are now telling us why. In an interview with Gigmag, managing director Simon Funnell issues an emergency £50,000 appeal for private philanthropy to stave off a budget shortfall caused by Croydon council cuts. The Arts Council were typically unhelpful.
Prince Edward is leading the cash campaign. I hope he comes up with the goods. LMP, conducted by Gerard Korsten, with Roxanna Panufnik as composer in residence, is the only orchestra serving the southern London conurbations. If LMP were out of action, Croydon should know there would be little point in going ahead with a planned refurbishment of Fairfield Halls. It will have so many dark nights, it might as well be boarded up.
Press release below:

After more than 60 years the London Mozart Players announces that it is today launching a campaign to secure its future.
The orchestra has worked hard to replace the loss of its Arts Council core funding in 2008. But more is needed. The LMP’s Managing Director, Simon Funnell, said: “This campaign is urgent and vital – if we don’t succeed it is highly likely that the board will have to take the decision to close the orchestra later this year so the stakes are very high indeed. The LMP is one of the finest chamber orchestras in the country and it is crucial that we protect this part of our heritage.”
Simon Funnell continued: “Many arts organisations face challenging times in the coming years; thanks to the deep impact of the recession, Government cuts to the Arts Council, low interest rates and a gloomy outlook on the economy, the orchestra is facing a squeeze on every side: there are more organisations chasing smaller and smaller pots of money.
“Every time we lose a cultural institution like the LMP, we lose something of our humanity and we cannot allow this to happen. The sums of money the LMP need to survive are relatively small but vital if the orchestra is to survive. The government is calling on philanthropists and companies to do more to support the arts, and now the LMP is asking directly f

or that support.”

Over the last two years, the LMP has embarked on an ambitious programme of development, appointing an outstanding music director in Gérard Korsten who has already taken the LMP to new heights, as well as a new Associate Composer, Roxanna Panufnik. The orchestra continues to garner critical acclaim for the almost one hundred concerts, tours and recordings it undertakes each year:
The orchestra’s work off-stage, LMP Interactive, is also highly regarded, with over one hundred projects run each year. In Croydon the LMP has worked with around 30 schools and last year reached almost 3800 children and adults through its community and education work. The orchestra has pioneered cross-generational projects involving both young people and the elderly, was nominated for an RPS award for its “Orchestra in a Village” project at the Cambridge Music Festival and has worked this year with the Princes Foundation for Children & the Arts as well as Orchestras Live and Turner Sims Concert Hall on projects for young people. It was recently nominated for a South Bank Sky Arts Award for its work with Portsmouth Grammar School and the composer Tansy Davies.
The orchestra’s principal funder Croydon Council has continued to support the orchestra through these difficult times and the orchestra’s management cannot thank the Council highly enough for its generosity. The orchestra realises that it cannot expect the council, or the tax payers of Croydon, to be the only funders of an orchestra which works across the country and abroad. The LMP is delighted to have an ongoing relationship both with Croydon Council and with Fairfield Halls both of whom are strong supporters of the orchestra. But the LMP recognises the need to complement this with broader philanthropic support.
The orchestra’s formal appeal will be launched by the orchestra’s Associate Conductor Hilary Davan Wetton at the orchestra’s concert at Fairfield Halls, 7.30pm on Wednesday 20 April 2011.
– ENDS –
For more information contact Simon Funnell, Managing Director, London Mozart Players on 020 8686 1996 or email
Press tickets for Wednesday night’s concert are available by emailing Caroline Molloy:


  • David says:

    There are only 8 LMP concerts at Fairfield in the current season, so it’s hardly going to hinder the hall if they disappear, and there are many other Orchestras based in the region who could step in to fill the gap.

  • Ulysses says:

    This funding call to arms was surely “urgent and vital” some time ago. There is reference to the current economic situation on the LMP website, but for those whose heads have not been buried in the sand, a stark warning bell sounded in May 2008 when the FTSE started to drop like a stone and in a matter of months many billions of pounds of value was wiped off the value of the companies that constitute the 100 index. Any sensible company addressed the problem head-on then; slashed amin costs, redefined strategy, looked after their customers, etc.
    Yes, a charity and cultural organisation needs to rely upon philanthropy and support that does not necessarily conform to a financial ROI metric, but surely it needs a governance and management structure whose expertise is commensurate with that of its artistic abilities.
    This sounds like diabolical management to one who has had to weather this storm in business. I am not a philanthropist, but I am a businessman, and I would not throw money after an organisation whose management was seemingly so ill prepared for what was a well documented crash 10 Quarters ago.