EU orchestra quits UK

EU orchestra quits UK


norman lebrecht

February 19, 2017

The European Union Baroque Orchestra, based in Oxfordshire since 1985, will give its last UK concert on 19 May, before moving to Antwerp…

Story here.



  • Alexander Hall says:

    Just look at the number of non-UK citizens in the London orchestras, especially among the strings. Hard Brext means only one thing for the classical music business: there are very rocky times ahead.

    • Maria says:

      Not all from EU member States though, are they?

    • Dougie says:

      Well, if Brexit means what you imagine (which of course it doesn’t) we’ll be just fine, as all the UK players in the great orchestras of Europe will be looking for a job in the UK.

      • Jason says:

        Who? UK will be a periphery. “Commonwealth” is a joke, London doesn’t even have decent concert hall. Let the “English” horns play a requiem for your small country.

        • Maria says:

          “London doesn’t even have decent concert hall”

          Correction to your cheap sneer – London doesn’t have a decent full sized concert hall. There are others.

          There are other cities in the UK as well.

  • Holly Golightly says:

    Why are you all so fearful and reactionary?

    • Robert King says:

      People are concerned because no-one seems to have much clue what will actually happen post-Brexit. There are pronouncements, statements, opinions, hints, indications – and then at least as many contradictions.

      If your living is made from performing music across Europe, and you don’t know whether you will continue to be able to nip over to France on the Eurostar for a day to earn your next £150, then take a flight to Germany the next day, then pick up a couple of days in Italy the week after, and so on – that is going to concern you. That is how so many of us earn our livings. It already isn’t easy, and most “rank-and-file” musicians already do not earn much. Anything that makes it harder is not going to help.

      If you are not a British passport holder (most orchestras contain highly-skilled musicians from many nations – on TKC’s recent tour we counted 16 different nations amongst our 46 musicians) and as a musician you don’t know if you will be able to enter the UK so easily any more; or if you are a musician who currently lives in the UK and you don’t know if you will even be allowed to continue to live in the UK; or if you are from the management and don’t know whether you will be able to bring musicians into the UK for even a day or two without filling in reams of paperwork that would create an administrative nightmare; or you can foresee those last minute panics when a soloist falls sick and you need to fly in a replacement at minimal notice and don’t know if, as now, you can do so and prevent the whole project from crashing – none of that helps confidence, let alone planning beyond 2019 (such musical projects are planned at least 2 years in advance).

      And then, realistically, who in the Brexit negotiations is going to give anything but the smallest hoot about the livelihoods of a few tens of thousands of musicians when there are massive negotiations required to sort out the hundreds of billions at risk in financial services, pharmaceuticals, motor cars, etc? Classical music is going to be miles down the negotiation list. And there is no way on earth that everything can possibly be sorted in two years: bureaucracy is not known for its speed of movement or its flexibility, and our esteemed leaders will shortly start negotiating with 27 other nations. Negotiation is a two-sided process, and the “wish-lists” we’ve heard are worthless if the other side won’t play ball.

      And, even if you aren’t much concerned for the livelihoods of these highly-skilled people, British and non-British (if we must delineate between nations, which to many musicians is such an alien thought), we should remember that music brings a significant financial surplus to the British economy.

      In short, no-one really knows what will happen. And that is primarily what is causing uncertainty. So, if you can give any reassurance, and or any specific facts, please do say. A lot of people’s livelihoods, as well as a significant net contribution to the UK economy, hangs on any such reassurance.

      • Alexander Hall says:

        Well said, Robert. As you point out, culture in the broadest sense has never been on the radar of the vast majority of British politicians (unlike French and German ones). The pitiful crumbs the Arts Council now hands out to the London orchestras when huge amounts go into sport from Lottery funding (and I am not against supporting talented young sportspeople) is an absolute disgrace. There is little chance that the present government will consider employment problems in the world of classical music worthy of its attention. Has anybody ever seen Theresa May in any concert-hall or opera-house?

        • Maria says:

          “unlike French and German ones”

          Who don’t give a stuff about conditions in S Europe, and certainly not in Greece. But never mind, they’re seen in all the right places, so that’s OK.

          • Robert King says:

            With respect, hasn’t Frau Merkel been rather generous in welcoming migrants into the country she governs? And didn’t Germany support the flailing (and failing) Greek economy with the largest sums of all the European nations?

            On cultured leaders, it is reliably reported that Frau Merkel genuinely does enjoy the arts, and attends concerts and operas for pleasure, not out of a sense of duty, or simply “to be seen”, and she is not alone amongst national and regional leaders in having a genuine love of the arts. National and regional support for the arts in Germany (and, since you mention it, in France) remains vastly greater than in the UK.

          • Maria says:

            “And didn’t Germany support the flailing (and failing) Greek economy with the largest sums of all the European nations?”

            In an attempt to solve a problem which was created by the absurd “one size fits all” economic policy in the first place.

            I’m not doubting the sincerity of her interest in the arts. I’m just suggesting that running the country, and influencing the EU in a sensible direction, are more important than satisfying the demands of arts critics.

          • MWnyc says:

            Fair points, Robert. But remember that Germany wasn’t only bailing out Greece. It was also bailing out Deutsche Bank.

    • Halldor says:

      Not everyone is (in fact a majority aren’t) – and thinking that is often a symptom of spending a lot of time with people in the arts / media world and nowhere else. There are a lot of people with strong vested interests in painting the UK’s departure from the EU in the blackest possible light, and exaggeration (often in the face of all measurable evidence) is routine. An EU-funded body, inevitably, will need to be based in one of the remaining member states; this is regrettable, but understandable. (It’s an interesting exercise though, to ask why so many EU-wide musical organisations *did*, with the choice of 27 countries, opt to be based in this supposedly unmusical, isolated UK for so long, though. Let’s hope the EU continues its commitment to the EUBO, a fine orchestra, after relocation – and doesn’t threaten to strip it of its core funding as the EU did to the EUYO last year).

      Whatever the outcome of the process (and we’re talking about the world’s 5th largest economy here) Britain’s classical music scene will certainly be in an appreciably better position than in a quite a few EU member states (Greece, anyone?). Uncertainty isn’t helpful, true, but the end result (within 2 years) is unlikely to make it any harder for an EU national to work in a British orchestra than it is for the huge numbers of US, Australian, Norwegian, Swiss, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian etc players who currently do.

      Whatever our sentimental and principled attachment to the ideals behind the EU (ideals that no-one, sadly, has been arguing for except in the most negative terms) it’s long been clear that the institution itself is deeply troubled, and pragmatic people have been making other plans. In 2015 – long before Brexit was a possibility – I toured the UK’s music colleges. They were all, without exception, launching ambitious overseas recruitment programmes. To Europe? Not in a single case. They were all sending reps to Korea, to Japan, to China, to Australia and Canada. That’s where they saw their future, even while the UK’s continued membership of the EU was in no serious doubt.

      • Maria says:

        “(Greece, anyone?)”

        That, Halldor, is the EU’s dirty little secret. Nobody around here wants to talk about it. Or the high unemployment in S Europe generally, for that matter.

    • David Osborne says:

      Why are you here?