Breaking: Dutch orchestra cancels concerts, may face closure

Breaking: Dutch orchestra cancels concerts, may face closure


norman lebrecht

April 02, 2015

HET symfonieorkest, orchestra of the East Netherlands, has announced it has run through its budget, cannot balance the books and is cancelling most concerts for the rest of the season.

HET – with Harm Mannak as general director and Jan Willem de Vriend as chief conductor – spent last year’s local subsidy of 8.3 million euros on a business plan that failed. It will now play mostly in schools and community centres until someone comes up with a better idea, or insolvency is enforced.


Dutch reports here and here.

HET made itself hugely unpopular a few years ago by fighting the Netherlands Philharmonic through the courts for the right to call itself the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. After a six-figure pile of legal bills, HET lost.



  • Classical Reality says:

    Re: this news article plus the one just published about the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, people who claim that it’s only in America where there’s paltry support for the arts – and if only the government would step in, everything would be peachy – aren’t paying very close attention to the collapse of the vaunted European “model” …

    • norman lebrecht says:

      This is not about the Lucerne FO. It’s a smaller, regional orchestra.

      • Guus Mostart says:

        Indeed Norman, a smaller, regional orchestra with delusions of grandeur. This is the same orchestra that tried a hostile takeover of Nationale Reisopera in order to jazz up its budget – to no avail.

  • Alex says:

    One less. Now we need about 200 to follow suit and Demand/Supply will balance itself out and orchestras wont have to rely on using customes on halloween, playing in the metro, or any of the other tactics they use to essentially BEG (with desperate tears in their eyes) for young people to like them.

    What happens in america, and sadly in many places in Europe, is a travesty for classical music. At this rate, many orchestras will survive but classical music itself will disappear (except the 20-30 warhorses they already play non-stop season after season).

    Technology already provides the public with access to the greatest works and performances in history, yet the public does not value it because the local orchestra – focused on survival – is playing ‘Bon Jovi at the Symphony’ this weekend, or some of the other disgusting ‘cross-over’ and ‘outreach’ efforts they undertake, like the last roars of the Titanic.

    Let them disappear in peace, and lets uphold those who are left. Classical music was, and will forever be, a niche market.

    My 2 cents

  • Classical Reality says:

    Understood. My comments apply to both stories.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It should not be forgotten that the Netherlands are not representative of Europe and that it is, in fact, not a really European country, because it does not have a cultural tradition in the sense of an awareness of the importance of the arts as officially supported by the community / state. It once had painting, but also that has withdrawn into the private sphere where lucky painters sell to collectors abroad. The cultural establishment is a joke.

    Classical music in other European countries, where it is also occasionally threatened by subsidy cuts, can still count upon the support from music lovers and the thinking classes, because there, cultural traditions are still an important part of national cultural identity. Holland, alas, nowadays shows it real face.