There has been a little Scottish firestorm running on Facebook around a performance by the Glasgow Philharmonia at the Malcolm Arnold Festival in Northhampton.
The orchestra, brainchild of the conductor Ross Gunning, is composed of school and conservatoire students from Scotland, mostly unpaid.
Arriving in Northampton, their overnight accommodation turned out to be the floor of a damp, cold church with just one toilet for the entire ensemble. The musicians brought their own sleeping-bags.
A Facebook post, since removed, was shared more than 400 times and liked more than 3,000, a very substantial number for a small Scottish issue.
One of the young players wrote: ‘I feel like this was one of the most embarassing things I’ve ever been involved in. Yes, socially I made some great new friends, but musically, one rehearsal to play what was in some ways very challenging Malcolm Arnold music was not enough at all. Not in any way was this the musicians’ fault at all.
‘Also, it feels as though everything that the Glasgow Philharmonia is involved in isn’t for the musicians, but it exploits them for the benefit of the conductor’.
A Scottish musician writes: ‘We are a close-knit classical music community in Scotland and as you can imagine it has made serious waves…. No licenses by Local Education Authorities have been sought for Glasgow Philharmonia’s paid performances by compulsory school age children and therefore no adequate chaperone supervision has been put in place. New laws were put in place in 2016 to protect young performers from being taken advantage of and these have been wholly ignored.’
The sleeping arrangements were sufficiently unusual to be mention in a review here. ‘The orchestra members, who had travelled by coach from Glasgow the previous day and had spent the night in sleeping bags in a local church hall, were fresh as spring.’
UPDATE: We asked Ross Gunning for a response. He replied with this denial.