Exclusive: London orchestra saved by last-ditch appeal

Exclusive: London orchestra saved by last-ditch appeal


norman lebrecht

July 05, 2011

Three months ago, it looked as if the London Mozart Players were going out of business. Refused Arts Council funding and short of £50,000 to pay the musicians, things were looking dire when the orchestra launched an emergency appeal at Buckingham Palace.

Today, they have given me the news that not only has the target been reached but they’ve had an additional donation of £50,000 and a commitment of long-term support from Croydon Council, which owns the hall where they play. This is welcome news in tough times.

Here’s the statement from managing director Simon Funnell:


The London Mozart Players is delighted to announce the successful
outcome of its fundraising appeal, launched by Associate Conductor
Hilary Davan Wetton on 20 April 2011. As reported in the national
press at Easter, the orchestra was facing closure unless urgent funds
were raised over the summer.

Two months on, the appeal is on track to reach its target of £50,000
by the end of July.

The LMP’s Managing Director, Simon Funnell, said: “The response
from the public has been hugely generous and incredibly heart-warming
with dozens of donations ranging from just a few pounds to over
£5,000. We have been very touched that, at a time when everyone is
feeling the squeeze of austerity, people care enough about the LMP to
ensure our survival.”

A dinner at Buckingham Palace in early June hosted by the LMP’s
Patron, HRH The Earl of Wessex, also raised a significant amount of
income. In addition to the main appeal, a generous individual donor
has made a further donation of £50,000. The London Borough of
Croydon, home of the orchestra for over 20 years, has also agreed to
continue to support the LMP until March 2013, committing £180,000
over the two-year period from April 2011.

But it isn’t just on the financial front that the LMP has good
news. The appointment of Marieke Blankestijn as its new Leader, who
will share the role with current Co-leader Susanna Candlin, has also
been announced. Currently Leader of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe,
Marieke worked for many years with the LMP’s Music Director Gérard

Gérard Korsten, the LMP’s Music Director, said “I am delighted
to be working with two such fantastic violinists in Susie and Marieke;
they will be a formidable team for the orchestra and their joint
appointment brings the orchestra both freshness and continuity.”

Simon Funnell commented: “2011 really has been a roller-coaster of
a year but this fantastic appointment, which comes on top of the news
of Roxanna Panufnik’s appointment as the orchestra’s new Associate
Composer, shows that the London Mozart Players is still a vibrant and
relevant orchestra, more than sixty years after it was founded.”

From a bleak picture just a few months ago, the LMP is now looking
towards a brighter future, with a new series of concerts beginning at
St John’s, Smith Square in October, sponsored by M&G Investments, as
well as continuing its relationship with Orchestras Live, Fairfield
Halls and its many supporters around Croydon and the south east.