London manager says Brexit could be good for orchestras

London manager says Brexit could be good for orchestras


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2018

Timothy Walker, chief executive and artistic director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra which has struggled in recent years with tour decline, offers a counter-intuitive view of Brexit in the pro-Brexit Daily Telegraph.

Walker, an Australian, says: ‘Europe can be a great thing but there are also difficulties in dealing with Europe.

‘And the interesting thing for me was that the difficulties seemed to be growing rather than diminishing and I couldn’t really understand this.

‘Before there was a referendum on Britain leaving, our observation was that it was becoming more difficult and it was a cost to us.

‘The orchestra always has had a big international presence but as soon as the status quo becomes disrupted you have to start looking for new opportunities….’

Read more here.


  • Daphne Badger says:


    • Player says:

      Why? His is by definition the view of someone who deals with these things every day.

      He is not obliged to say what you would like him to say – if that is what you mean by his comments being “unhelpful.”

  • Will Duffay says:

    It’s behind the Telegraph wall, but there’s a bit about tax differences in various EU countries causing so-called ‘red tape’ problems. But he also says he wants to take advantage of China and India. Because of course the bureaucratic difficulties with going to those countries are negligible…

    What he misses is the relative ease of doing mini-tours or concerts in the EU. Popping to Beijing for a couple of concerts mid-season is hardly trivial.

    Still, an alternative view, albeit one to take with some scepticism given that it’s in the Telegraph.

    • FS60103 says:

      “What he misses is the relative ease of doing mini-tours or concerts in the EU. Popping to Beijing for a couple of concerts mid-season is hardly trivial.”

      I suspect the long-serving CEO of a major international orchestra (which has toured China twice in the last 5 years) is probably reasonably aware of the issues involved. And why would the fact that he’s being interviewed by the Telegraph have any bearing on the reliability of his opinions (and indeed, experience)?

      • Will Duffay says:

        He’s looking at the company’s bottom line, not the quality of the players’ lives.

        And because the Telegraph is bound to present his comments in the most Brexit-friendly light.

      • Furzwängler says:


        • David Nice says:

          It stinks. The red tape now is a molehill compared to the mountain all musicians are going to face should we leave the EU. This is a stab in the back to players and music students all over the country, whether British or continental European (or indeed, from anywhere else).

  • Simon Scott says:

    Let’s face facts. Brexit is a total farce

  • Anon says:

    That‘s like saying because you have some difficulties with your legs, you might be better off without them.

  • FS60103 says:

    Brave man – didn’t expect any orchestral management types to challenge the sector’s politicised groupthink any time soon. But maybe it takes an Aussie to speak honestly about this subject.

    And Mr L, come on, really – implying that a newspaper’s editorial policy has any influence at all on what an interviewee thinks or says, least of all in the arts section. You know that’s nonsense; we know it’s nonsense.

    • Alan says:

      A welcome alternative to the usual left of centre drivel we have to listen to from the Guardianistas in the art world.

      • David Nice says:

        Really, you appal me. And 99 per cent of folk in the so-called creative industries, for all of whom life will be intolerable should we leave. No-one who supports Brexit has the right to be called a lover of music or the arts.

  • buxtehude says:

    This Timothy Walker might also have telegraphed that Brexit will free up British researchers to cure cancer and Alzheimer’s, British physicists to relieve the pressure and British generalists to put the joy back in everybody’s life, now that it’s no longer drawn off by you-know-what. Is this a world to hide virtues?

    • Anon says:

      The old people in Britannia think so. (and the young ones were too apathetic to go and vote)
      Their world war imprinted mindset of divisiveness can‘t envision a Europe of unified humanity.

  • Bogda says:

    Whatever experience Walker might have his argumentation is actually nonsensical. Who is preventing him and he Orchestra from touring India, China etc now. EU red tape?!? Complete nonsense. Nothing is going to change in that respect after Brexit. Only thing that will change is to make it more difficult to tour EU.
    Brexit might’ve pushed him to think about new ways to develop orchestra, but it has nothing to do with EU red tape, but his inability to come up with such ideas earlier. So basically he is embarrassing himself with such statements.

    • Hilary says:

      You’ve neatly isolated the idiocy of his argument.
      The UK is diminished by Brexit.

      • David Nice says:

        The LPO already tours China. See the post-Brexit world as one in which the Long Yus of this world – in case you’ve been lucky enough to miss him, he’s a Chinese apparatchik and the worst conductor I’ve ever heard in a professional postion – multiply to impose upon UK orchestras as he already does upon the Philharmonia and the BBCSO.

  • SVM says:

    Is this the same philistine who fired four players from the LPO in 2011 for signing a controversial petition (I happen to disagree with the petition in question, but I believe that an orchestral player has every right to sign such a petition, and mention their affiliation to the orchestra)?

    • Player says:

      Irrelevant and blatantly ad hominem attacks do not help your case.

      • David Nice says:

        When the man is responsible for a string of unhappy incidents, you can hardly call it ad hominem in a negative sense. The players were appalled then, and are appalled now, with the exception of a couple of old farts who still think Brexit is OK.

  • Richard says:

    “Counter-intuitive” is putting it mildly.
    More like “Wishful thinking” just like the whole ridiculous Brexit farce and the naïve provincials who have fallen for it.
    Writing from China where the weather is fine, btw.

    • Furzwängler says:

      Stay in China then.

      The sooner we are out of the EU the better, especially having now seen the true face of the Commission and of our so-called partners in their increasingly irrelevant Union .