Just in: Dallas Symphony chickens out of Europe tour

Just in: Dallas Symphony chickens out of Europe tour


norman lebrecht

December 22, 2015

Can you believe it? Texans are too scared to fly.

Here’s the statement they have just released:

Due to the recent and tragic events in Europe and the United States, and informed by conversations with national and international security professionals, the Dallas Symphony’s executive board along with its executive and artistic leadership have made the very difficult decision to postpone its April 2016 European tour. After careful deliberation, we believe that there is an elevated risk to the safety of our musicians and their families, guest artists, DSO personnel and travelling patrons, and therefore will not be proceeding with the tour at this time.


Did anyone ask the music director (Jaap van Zweden)? As for the conversations with ‘national security professionals’, are they saying Washington is telling orchestras not to fly?

This is not just as cowardly statement. It’s profoundly dishonest.

UPDATE: Second US orchestra cancels. Read here.


  • Max Grimm says:

    I can believe it and I don’t think that it is “profoundly dishonest” if you’re a person who thinks the odds of getting killed in a terrorist attack on the way from your couch to the fridge are 2 to 1

  • Respect says:

    Dallas and Fort Worth are separate cities and have completely different parts of funding issues. It also has to be pointed out that it would hardly be in the orchestra’s best interest to admit fear of danger and traveling as opposed to funding problems. All in all, very bizarre decision; there is no looming threat towards the Dallas Symphony from Syrian refugees. My suspicion is that the roots of this problem come from the musicians not the management.

  • RW2013 says:

    Bad ticket sales?

  • Charles G. Clark-Maxwell says:

    From last year’s publicity:

    “Next season will be Jaap van Zweden’s eighth as music director. On the two-week European tour he’ll lead performances in Amsterdam; Edinburgh, Scotland; Birmingham, England; Stuttgart, Germany; Basel, Switzerland; Vienna; and Madrid. Repertory will include concert performances of Act 1 of Wagner’s Die Walküre, with soloists Michelle DeYoung, Clifton Forbis and Kristinn Sigmundsson; and the Shostakovich Leningrad Symphony.

    • Dave T says:

      Drives me nuts that some, i.e. any, of these cities on the tour have to be identified by the country in which they are situated. Does one really need clarification as to just where are Edinburgh and Stuttgart?

      If they must do this than they should at least be consistent. Say they’ll be playing the “Leningrad, USSR Symphony.”

  • CDH says:

    That’s nothing. The 2001 Ryder Cup was due to take place in England at the end of September that year. It was postponed by the request of the players for a year because they were afraid to fly to Europe (which had zero to do with the attacks); meanwhile they were flying all over the United States (which was the target, and where the attacks took place).

    There is a paranoiac streak in Americans, a fear of “the other,” that was satisfied for years by communism. When that bogeyman collapsed, terrorism took over — a rather more legitimate worry, granted. Steps have been taken, some sensible, some obscene (many tenets of The Patriot Act). Now it is a paranoia well sub-terrorism — anti-Muslim sentiment is being ratcheted up, McCarthy-like, by Trump and the many who agree with him. Just today the US has imposed extraordinary new restrictions on a class of UK citizen — again, based on something that happened in the US, just as much as what happened in Paris.

    That woman in California had been picked up by her husband in Saudi Arabia. Funnily enough, it is not on the restricted list the US published this morning. God almighty, every US regime is the same: use fear to increase control, and do anything to avoid higher taxes for the severely under-taxed Americans.

    • JJC says:

      The 2001 Ryder Cup was not cancelled for the reason you stated. Most PGA players fly private carriers and have little to fear from terrorists. It was cancelled because it would be unseemly and disrespectful to stage the event while the bodies of nearly 3000 people continued to smolder in the devastation. Don’t twist the facts to fit your twisted agenda.

      • CDH says:

        It would have been weeks after, and nobody was “smoldering.” It would have been good for morale for the golfers to show some chutzpah and leadership and go to work, and they could have used the event to be a dedicated remembrance — the Europeans would have supported that whole-heartedly.. The people who died were all killed because they went out to do their jobs, and only days later people were making their way to work in the same area, where they would have smelled the fallout when the buildings were still smoldering. And certainly seen the aftermath of the horror. It would have been neither unseemly or disrespectful for these pampered paranoiacs to do theirs — other entertainments, and sports, went ahead very shortly after 9/11. Churchill insisted the theatres in London stay open during the Blitz.

        And the golfers themselves were the ones who said, on TV and in the presses, that they were nervous about flying (outside the US, which was absolutely illogical. They were not being invited to play in the Middle East — it was England). The excuse of unseemliness was cover-up. They were playing in the US the next week. And virtually none of them turned up for the memorial service the PGA Tour put together, and the donations from the individual golfers to relief funds were risible compared to their fantastic paycheques..

        • JJC says:

          ‘The Europeans would have supported the event wholeheartedly’. Really? What does that tell us about Europeans? Nothing that I don’t know but the Americans were also involved, and we had just suffered extreme mortality. Are you comfortable with 3000 of your neighbors lying dead in the streets of your town? Would you have a golf tournament just after? No, but you would find a ridiculous and false reason to skewer Americans for doing the right thing.
          I live a few miles downwind from the former World Trade Center. When I wrote smolder, which you so disgraced yourself by doubting it, I referred to the horror of having to breathe the fumes of the destruction. This went on for months, my friend, well into 2002, and was highly unpleasant. Decent people understand this. I repeat, how cool are you with 3000 of your neighbors dead and incinerated in the streets of your town? Huh? And you pile on?
          And don’t talk to me about Churchill, I have no doubt, none what so ever, on what side that great man would come down, and contempt would be yours.

          • CDH says:

            As I said above, the people who had to daily endure the sight and smell of that tragedy were back at work in days. Cleaners. Waiters. Shop assistants. Bus drivers. Your own President encouraged people to get back to normal so as not to let the bad guys win. The vast majority of Americans, mourning as they were, got on with it. The most pampered “athletes” on the planet declined.

            When I speak of European support, the American players got it from the get-go — the Europeans accepted their decision without demur and without hesitation. All I meant was that if the Americans had come and had wanted to dedicate their national effort to the memory of the 9/11 victims and families, they would have had full endorsement by the European players. Everything would have been done to secure their comfort level with the tone of the event.

            Instead they continued to play events in the US, travelling by plane, in the weeks between the attacks and when the Ryder Cup would have taken place. It always looked gutless that they dodged a chance to appear as a national team at a point when the nation was reeling and they could have offered something to rally round. But they had no hesitation in playing for themselves.

  • Robert says:

    Are other US orchestras going on European tours in that time frame? I don’t know.

    I can imagine the concern that a well-publicized tour with dates and times announced far in advance would be a tempting mark for terror groups who now seem to strike not randomly but with substantial logistical planning at carefully chosen targets.

    I can also imagine that perhaps the cost of adding adding extra security over the course of the tour might push the tour from being financially feasible to being unfeasible.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Are other US orchestras going on European tours in that time frame?

      The Los Angeles Philharmonic is scheduled to tour Paris, Amsterdam, Luxembourg and London in March 2016 and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to tour 11 cities in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria in May/June 2016.

    • Cynthia says:

      The National Symphony Orchestra is touring Europe in February 2016.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    Well, I ain’t gonna fly to Dallas. Too scary. The whole country seems to he chicken, except all the folks populating the terminal in San Francisco this morning, with plenty of them traveling to New York and on to Europe. My apology for being cynical. Dallas Symphony made itself a cowardly laughingstock.

    My suggestion: let them do a tour along the border with Mexico, and visit the places where migrants find refuge. No Wagner required.

  • harold braun says:

    Donald Runnicles and the Orchestra of St.Lukes cancelled a Proms performance a few years ago citing the same reasons.No one makes such a decision light heartedly,believe me.Sad,since I went to two concerts the Dallas SO and Maestro Zweden gave on their last trip to Europe.Both were terrific!And the concert in Frankfurt was sold out.Wanted to go to one of their concerts here in Germany.

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Utterly bizarre. The players are more likely to be killed crossing the street in Dallas…

  • MacroV says:

    Truly bizarre. Your average terrorist faces greater danger from a gun-toting Texan in Dallas than the DSO does in Europe.

  • Kai Coebad says:

    God Bless America.

  • joe s. says:

    Maybe they are afraid of having their instruments smashed by the airlines.

  • chicur says:

    Europe is home to the best orchestras in the world… Who needs an orchestra from Texas here?

    We don’t need you here. Stay there to polish and shine your guns.

    • Furzwaengler says:

      I may be a Brit and not an American, but for my taste your comment is not only hubristic but also gratuitously offensive.

    • MacroV says:

      This is one reason why American orchestras tour, because a lot of American orchestras – not just the Big Five – can knock the socks off their European counterparts, but there’s still the perception out there that those vulgar Americans can’t really make great music.

    • Allie says:

      That’s really offensive. The musicians of the Dallas Symphony come from all over the world. They did not make the decision whether or not to tour, their executive board made that decision.

    • harold braun says:

      Idiotic comment….Dallas SO,as so many US orchestras,gives many,and some more famous,especially German orchestras,a run for their money.Who needs xenophobic,moronic comments like that?

  • JanHus says:

    Who in Amsterdam and Vienna wants to hear an orchestra from Texas?

    • RW2013 says:

      Probably the tourists who want to see the inside of the Concertgebouw or the Musikverein, and don’t really care who’s playing.
      If I ever went to Texas (as if), I might go and see one of these orchestras, but otherwise…

    • Scott Cantrell says:

      You obviously have not heard the DSO anytime recently. They got rapturous ovations on their last European tour. The Concertgebouw practically exploded.

      • Peter says:

        Sorry to break it to you Mr Cantrell, but audiences at the Concertgebouw stand up at the end of every concert…
        What do you think about the schedule of the cancelled tour? Apart from Vienna and Amsterdam it’s a second rate city tour… No London, no Paris, no decent German or Swiss cities… Is this perhaps why the tour was cancelled – not interesting enough for sponsors?

        • Tim Walton says:

          Why would they want to play in 3rd rate London Concert Halls when they can play in one of the World’s finest in Birmingham.

          I am really disappointed that they are not coming to Birmingham, but at least I’ll get my ticket refunded.

          As to why they cancelled. I think we all know that.

          After the Paris atrocities, the Parisians stuck two fingers up at the murderous ISIS and said you don’t frit us.

          The USA played into ISIS hands and proved they are gutless cowards not daring to come out of the USA. Strange when you think that more US citizens are killed by their own running around freely with guns, than for any other reason.

          They would less likely be killed outside the US than inside.

          FRIT, FRIT, FRIT you cowardly Americans

    • John de Jong says:

      I enjoyed very much hearing Jaap van Zweden with his Dallas orchestra in the Concertgebouw. I hope American orchestras will keep touring in Europe, as orchestras from all other parts of the world.

    • MacroV says:

      Perhaps fans of the Concertgebouw interested to hear a fine American orchestra conducted by its former concertmaster and “led” by another (Alex Kerr).

  • Jacob H Jessen says:

    You let terrorism win!
    This is exactly what one should not do!

  • Marg says:

    My guess is it’s a mixture of extreme nervousness about flying on the part of some in management, players and families coupled with increased insurance costs. Americans are particularly nervous about going out of the country when there is any instability, but as others have observed the danger of being shot in Texas where you can openly carry guns makes this a bit ironic.

  • Willow says:

    National symphony from DC is touring Europe in February, 2016 and we’re taking a security professional with us.

  • Dan Allcott says:

    Whatever the reason, is it necessary to be so provincial in your critiques? JVZ must think that Dallas is a worthy Orchestra of his talents. Muti seems to like Chicago. Cleveland has Welser-Most. Honeck, Dudamel, etc. It seems like there are some pretty good American orchestras, and they will return.

    • Max Grimm says:

      I think most of those comments are aimed at the people, not necessarily their orchestras. And while I agree with you, I will point out that except for Dudamel, every single conductor you name does not live where he works.

  • Ross says:

    It’s a whole different world in the south.
    Cities like NY, LA, DC are the biggest targets, yet the people there are (generally) more tolerant and less paranoid.
    Contrast that with a guy living in a remote part of Louisiana, who is suspicious of anyone who is different, plans for how he’ll protect his home from terrorists, and buys more guns when there is an attack on a different continent.

  • Nick says:

    European tours to major venues are important for American orchestras. If it’s a cost issue resulting from increased insurance, surely it can not involve much of an increase – and surely that could be met by increased fund raising and each promoter coughing up a little extra? If it’s the insurers insisting they won’t cover terrorism, as is usually the case, then how come other orchestras tour Europe regularly without such a fuss?

    If it’s a case of fear, then damn the orchestra board and damn the musicians for agreeing to the decision. I suppose that same lot will never consider touring to Japan on the offchance there might just be an earthquake (there is one roughly every six weeks) and a tsunami. I hope they are never again invited to tour anywhere.

    • CDH says:

      Basically, Americans do not like leaving America. They don’t really see the point (unless they are McDonalds or Starbucks or some other rubbish food chain bound on global economic domination of a marketplace).

      The musicians probably do come from all over the world. The board almost certainly does not.

      • Dave T says:

        You were doing pretty well with your comments about the golf tournament, now this? It is way beyond tasteless, and well into into asininity and jealousy. You should have quit while you were ahead.

        • JJC says:

          But Dave, he was completely, utterly wrong in his comments about the Ryder Cup, thus, he was never ahead. He is lying and must be called out…

  • Jen says:

    Kind of ironic coming from all these gun-toting, tough-as-nails, don’t-mess-with-Texas types.

  • Larry W says:

    This thread, beginning with the ridiculous headline, is a tribute to ignorance. Music is not a contest but a quest. We are in a golden age of orchestras, with stellar ensembles in virtually every country and on every continent. Texas alone has two in the symphonies of Dallas and Houston. Unless someone has heard either, or visited either city, they cannot judge the orchestras or the citizens.

    • Nick says:

      I have made more than 30 visits to the USA, but never to Texas except to change planes at DFW. I have attended Met and Lyric Opera performances, and NYPO and several other major orchestra concerts. I am a great fan of JVZ but have zero desire to go to Texas.

      So if their fine orchestras want me and vast numbers of others to hear them, going to Texas is not an option. I therefore cannot judge. But if Dallas and Houston wish to be judged against other major orchestras, then they have to tour. If they are too afraid to do so, then they cannot expect to stand comparison.

      • Larry W says:

        You say you cannot judge, but do, by damning both the Dallas Symphony and their board. Orchestras don’t tour to be compared, but to present their art. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic performed in Houston recently, and each had a unique sound and style. Any comparison to each other or the Houston Symphony would be pointless, and those who try to do so view music as a sporting event with winners and losers. Truly, a tribute to ignorance.

        • Nick says:

          To avoid confusion, my reference to “judge” was to the quality of the orchestras. How this “damns” the orchestras totally beats me.

          Of course orchestras have a unique style and sound. Perhaps my choice of words is at fault. But it is a fact that members of orchestras which tour to cities with major orchestras do like to compare their “style and sound”. You may consider this irrelevant. Fine! But to suggest it betrays ignorance and compares concerts to sports events really does stretch the imagination!

  • Sally says:

    The musicians of the Dallas Symphony had no say in the cancellation and had never expressed fear about the tour. To insult the musicians for a management decision is not fair or correct and just stop with the gun comments…that’s just juvenile. The press had the information before the musicians. I can only imagine how much the cancellation is going to cost the orchestra both in dollars and respect and it is not a good thought.

    • Nick says:

      I fully accept that the musicians had no say. I then trust they will make their feelings known to their Board and management. And presumably the same management and Board are taking steps to ensure the orchestra goes nowhere near Austin, San Bernardino, Boston, Chattanooga, Charleston, Garland, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and a host of other US cities where terrorist violence of one sort or another has resulted in deaths – in just the last two years alone.

      • Larry W says:

        I’m happy to clear up your confusion. You said: “If it’s a case of fear, then damn the orchestra board and damn the musicians for agreeing to the decision.” And, “If they are too afraid to do so, then they cannot expect to stand comparison.” Judgement abounds. Also, according to you, “It is a fact that members of orchestras which tour to cities with major orchestras do like to compare their “style and sound”. Tell us, please, what musicians from which orchestras told you this fact? It is no stretch to see where you are coming from, and perhaps more than your words are at fault.

        • Nick says:

          Having managed a professional orchestra for almost 10 years and undertaken quite a number of overseas tours – and further having talked with many musicians and managers from other orchestras on tour and more industry Conferences on several continents than I can recall, I know whereof I speak. Which I think is more than you dear Larry W.

          • Larry W says:

            Wrong again, dear Nick. Having played principal with four major orchestras, and having been in the music business for more than 40 years, I believe I can speak on this subject with some authority. I think it’s wonderful that you once managed an orchestra. Even better that those days are past, given how you speak about musicians and the music profession.

  • JJC says:

    Well, CDH, you have missed the reality of the situation completely. Entirely. There was no happy normalcy after 9/11 in this country. People didn’t just take their marching orders, from Bush or anyone else, no. Perhaps death on that scale doesn’t faze you but, I have a problem with it. Good people have a problem with it. Nothing was as you so glibly state it was…
    The overwhelming majority of our PGA golfers are upstanding citizens, accomplished professionals and fine individuals. (Just ask your European PGA professionals). I have no doubt, CDH, that had they flown to England to play in that 2001 Ryder Cup (defying your imputation of sissyfication), that you would have then found ample grounds to vilify each and every one of them, and the country they represented, for crimes and insensitivity, inhumanity, etc. etc. to the extent that your imagination extends.
    That little game, CDH, is all too transparent and tiresome, do you not think we are laughing at you?

    • Max Grimm says:

      I do not know much about golf, nor do I like it and therefore have no desire to join the 2001 Ryder Cup debate.
      But this – “Perhaps death on that scale doesn’t faze you but, I have a problem with it. Good people have a problem with it.” – is unfortunately not completely the reality of this increasingly empathy-sterile world, where caring and understanding is dependant on geographical proximity.
      Differently expressed, how much of a problem did “good people” in say New York have with the more than 9000 deaths in Nepal earlier this year?

      • JJC says:

        Well, if it wasn’t an issue to the NY Times, as so much else isn’t, then they wouldn’t have heard a word about it.

        • Max Grimm says:

          That, to me, is a truly saddening (and in principle, constant) fact about humanity…1000 dead Nepali, Indians, Uruguayans ≠ 1000 dead Americans, Britons, Germans.

  • Sally says:

    Let me say the again. The musicians of the DSO did not know this decision was in the works nor were they given a say or vote on the fate of the tour.

    All instrument insurance in the States will NOT pay for damage or complete loss of instrument in the event of a terrorist action.

    Stop the ridiculous attacks on the musicians.

  • David says:

    As one who had booked, six months ago, to attend the concert on April 12 in Birmingham, UK, I am saddened that the Band has cancelled. My wife and I were very much looking forward to hearing Shos 7, as it is rarely done in this country (probably because of the cost of putting it on). Fortunately, Ashkenazy is conducting the Philharmonia in Leicester, that same evening, so we will be going to that concert instead.

    Whatever the politics of this are, none of us knows who will be targeted by terrorists, but there will be more high profile than others. Whether the Dallas are high profile in this context, I do not know, but, the size of the tour would make for an easy target, so I can understand the decision.

  • Lewise82@gmail.com says:

    Ugh. Reading the anti-American comments by insecure Europeans, the anti-Texan comments by other Americans, and the anti- European replies by non- Europeans reminds me why most people can’t stand musicians. Really people, you are crappy, sub-par specimens of humanity with no shame. So sorry I logged on.

  • Dougie says:

    There are two ways the orchestra Board could have reacted. The way they did, or by adding Paris to the tour itinerary to show solidarity with the French after last month’s attack. I’m disappointed they chose the former.