England loses a small orchestra

The Lancashire Sinfonietta has given up the unequal fight for survival. Local authority support had been whittled down to nothing and Arts Council England were not prepared to help. More here.

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  • England doesn’t really lose an orchestra, this orchestra never really existed as such. It’s a handful of musicians playing as freelancers, operating under an orchestral-sounding name. Something like twelve instrumentalists and a similar number of singers lend their names to the ensemble, which performed a few events here and there, thanks mainly to the largesse of “someone else’s money” via Lancashire County Council.
    The County Council has a legal obligation to provide certain services, and this isn’t one of them. Their funding must therefore go first and foremost to the services they are obliged to provide for their residents before they consider extras. I find myself more surprised that the CC managed to find nearly £150,000 to give to this group alone in a previous year than I am surprised to find that support cut to £25,000.

    All that said, it does seem a shame that some of the good work this group did with children especially will now not happen (although that niche could easily be filled by others, or the same players under another name, we’ll have to wait and see).

    • You mean: Instead use the money to support the growing Muslim community in Northern England, which will give us all so much joy over the coming years!

    • “musicians playing as freelancers, operating under an orchestral-sounding name…thanks mainly to the largesse of ‘someone else’s money'”

      If these criteria debar an ensemble from being an “orchestra”, I wonder how many UK orchestras (especially in London) would still merit the name…

      • Not that many.
        A handful is used here to mean around twelve, as advertised on the group’s website, which I posit is a chamber ensemble, not an orchestra, and too small too really merit “Sinfonietta”.
        London’s orchestras are both larger and convene more regularly as a large group to play. RPO, LSO, LPO, Philharmonia, BBCSO, BBCCO, ENO, ROH all fit in this description.
        The others who are not so full-time in operation – ECO, OSJ, CLS, OAE, ASMF, AAM, Britten Sinfonia (the latter two nominally based in Cambridge) and others may be smaller, but I believe have a larger core membership and regularly present larger concerts than the group under discussion here.
        So to answer your question, none of this would debar the vast majority of London ensembles from their names.

        The question of funding was related only to the ‘existence’ of the group, not to their title. If, for sake of argument, a group meet for three concerts in a year under one name, but the next year someone else pays for a concert and they meet under a different name, has the first group been “lost” or “ceased to exist”? In my opinion, no.

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