Orchestra locked in airless airport corridor

Orchestra locked in airless airport corridor


norman lebrecht

September 08, 2014

We don’t yet know why and how, but we hear that the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, flying in for tonight’s 80th birthday tribute to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at the BBC Proms, were held like cattle in a secure corridor at Gatwick Airport for up to half an hour.

Gatwick has an appalling reputation for overcrowding and mishandling passengers and luggage.

The orchestra flew Easyjet, which does not have the best record for punctuality and efficiency.

Two weeks ago, our Easyjet flight was directed to the wrong gate at Gatwick, adding considerable delay to its passengers.

We’ve no idea if today’s malfunction was Gatwick’s or Easyjet’s, but an apology from both would be a start.

This is disgraceful customer treatment.

sco gatwick

UPDATE: The girlfriend of one of the players tells us: Easyjet lost his luggage, and now he has to do a televised prom and has no suit, no shoes, nothing. E are being utterly hopeless in the matter, and my bf is massively stressed. his rehearsal in 30 mins.


  • Peter says:

    Poor fellows… one of the most privileged groups in the history of mankind, on their way to 6000 people in Royal Albert, playing their favorite music with super people and getting well paid for it. And on top of that they had to wait half an hour. What happened? Starvation? Dehydration? Massive traumas?

    Thank you Norman, for helping us all loosing perspective on a Monday morning.

  • James Hill says:

    Oh Peter,
    These poor folk were on their way to work – it would be lovely if being a professional musician was all about playing lovely music with lovely people in lovely concert halls to lovely audiences, but it is all about, stress, poor pay, badly organised travel, etc.I hope nobody said at the concert – “The SCO are a bit lack lustre tonight. Not a smiling face.That’s not what I pay my ticket money for…”

    • Peter says:

      Come on. Loads of people have their alarm clock set at 5.45 – get up, get the kids to school, be stuck in traffic for three quarters of an hour, reverse procedure eight hours later. These fellows can have their morning coffee at nine, drive slowly to work, work for an hour or two, a nice lunch, some more playing and then quit at two o’clock. Most people would sacrifice their right arm for a life like this. Luxury life!

      • Emilie says:

        Yes, because no orchestral musicians have children or other commitments elsewhere. And no – generally the SCO has a 2-session, 10.30-5.30 day, often with a concert in the evening.

      • Don Giovanni says:

        I could not read your comments without responding.

        I think you’ll agree that it wasn’t the SCO moaning about their work. The fact is that this article was written by Norman Lebrecht, who keeps his readers in the loop with the ins and outs of the Classical music world, from major news to the least important of updates (like this article). You sound bitter that a girlfriend of an SCO member told of the inconvenience incurred, but who wouldn’t be fed up? Regardless of why and where they were travelling, anyone would have a moan if they had a similar experience and an outlet to vent their frustrations publicly.

        It’s your second comment that really needs addressing, however. You are very quick to dismiss the prospect that the life of a professional orchestral player is hard work. I feel I must weigh in here, as I sit in rehearsals with this orchestra regularly and know them personally.

        Let’s take a typical schedule for a single project of the orchestra’s (which I experienced first hand):

        Monday: 10.30–13.30 14.30–17.30
        Tuesday: 10.30–13.30 14.30–17.30
        Wednesday: 10.30–13.30 14.30–17.30
        Thursday: 10.30–13.30 CONCERT 19.30
        Friday: travel to Glasgow, rehearsal 13.00–16.00, CONCERT 19.30. Travel home.
        Saturday: travel to Aberdeen, same schedule as previous day (rehearsal then concert). Travel home.
        Sunday: head to Perth for 8 hours of studio recording, head home.
        Monday: head to Perth for another 8 hours of studio recording. Head home.
        Back in Edinburgh again:
        Tuesday: rehearsals – 10.30–13.30 14.30–17.30
        Wednesday: 10.30–13.30 14.30–17.30
        Thursday: 10.30–13.30, then CONCERT 19.30.
        Friday: travel to Glasgow: rehearsal 13.00–16.00, then concert 19.30. Travel home.
        Saturday–Monday back in the recording studio in Perth all day each day.

        Tuesday, the next project begins.

        This is just a typical schedule for 5 concerts and a new bench mark recording (released soon). You can look at the hours and sneer, but I can guarantee you these players work harder in one 3 hour rehearsal than many would in a whole week of an office job. 6 hours rehearsal a day sounds like easy hours, but consider that they are not salaried and mostly are not paid very well, many of them will then go and do another 3 hours of teaching after 6 hours in rehearsal.

        Then take the traveling too, which don’t count as hours of work (though they will get their expenses). As you say, many might get up at 5.45 in order to be at their work in time, whereas an orchestra starts at 10.30 am. However, here are numerous days here where they would not be home again until the early morning hours.

        Now onto the the biggy: the concerts and the recording sessions. Making recordings can be shatteringly hard work as it requires every ounce of concentration for larger periods and in more un-natural circumstances than in a concert context. Then the concerts have to be fresh and exciting for the audience.

        Not one of these players would ask for yours or anyone else’s sympathy: they love their jobs and couldn’t comprehend doing a 9–5 job instead. I’m not asking for your sympathy on their behalf, but I think you should understand that the professional community of musicians are required to work harder than many other professionals because if they don’t, they won’t be booked again.

        You say many would give their right arm for this life style, which is true. But stop and consider that those already in it have put more time and sacrifice in order to gain (and keep) their seat in an orchestra than most people will have done for their jobs.

        Don’t be so blasé about something you don’t know!

  • Teil Scott says:

    Not pleasant, but highly unlikely – on this occasion – to be anything to do with easyJet.

  • owain says:

    Half an hour?

    Half an hour?!

    Up to half an hour?!?!

    And yeah, that sure looks like a cattle truck to me.

  • Anonymus says:

    Pussies. And good training. Once they are independent from UK, their wait at the immigration line will be probably longer. 🙂 In the US the waiting time at airport immigration counters for non-residents is often two to four hours. Much ado about nothing really.

    • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

      Pussies? NOT!!! Exhausted musicians who have to deliver the goods no matter what? YES!!! Shame on you people who really seem to have no idea! They aren’t on holiday, you know. Really annoying to read such criticism from people who really have no understanding of the pressures bands like the SCO have to deal with just to do their job. STOPPIT!!!

  • Emilie says:

    For the record: the SCO had had a concert in Perth on Saturday night, 4h bus to Inverness early Sunday morning, matinee concert there, 4h bus back, delayed flight out of Edinburgh, finally arriving in at about midnight after a heavy couple of days and then getting locked in a corridor for an extended period that even the pilot was unable to get open. I imagine they were somewhat exhausted and wanting to get to their London hotel rooms, which would take a further 2h to reach.