English orchestra plays its last

English orchestra plays its last


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2019

This Sunday will be the final concert of Milton Keynes Chamber Orchestra, which has existed for 44 years.

Milton Keynes City Orchestra (MKCO) will perform their Farewell Concert,  Totally Tchaikovsky, at MK Theatre on Sunday 23rd June at 3.00pm under the baton of Music Director Damian Iorio with guest Soprano Philippa Boyle. The 1812 Overture will create a stunning finale to a beautiful concert including the Fantasy Overture from Romeo and Juliet and two arias from Tchaikovsky’s best loved Operas.

It is with deep regret that the Board of MKCO has made a fully considered decision for the orchestra to close at the end of the 2018-2019 season. Over the last six years there has been a pro-active fund raising and creative re-organisation to bring greater quality to performance and education work. However, audiences haven’t grown significantly, the company is not resilient and there isn’t sustainable financial or resource support for professional classical music performance in MK.

With generous support from current funders MKCO will close without debt.  

It is devasting to close a cultural organisation with a forty-four year history, but amongst the terrific highs and memorable classical concerts there have been financial and resource concerns over many years.



  • Guillaume X. Berndsen says:

    The photo doesn’t show the audience which would probably be a sea of white hair accompanying an average age of >70.
    How often these days have I seen dynamic, accomplished young artists in their 20s performing to such audiences.

    • will says:

      and your point is…?

    • Terence says:

      The causes are many and have been often stated: music education in schools etc.

      Let’s hope classical music doesn’t descend to the popularity level of Classical Greek. Both worth preserving.

    • Jaime Herrera says:

      Indeed. New audiences are hard to come by with the same old repertoire. Commercial enterprises are always looking to redo their images because nobody wants last year’s model. Innovation cannot be achieved simply by rearranging yesterday’s Four Seasons – over and over. We need new (quality) classical music and we need it now. The gibberish which modern composers are putting out is worthless. My dad gave me a small box with programs from WQRS from forty five years ago. They listed the same works we are listening to now – over and over.

      • FS60103 says:

        One hears this non-sequitur a lot. The “same old” repertoire is not, by definition, “the same old” to a new audience. It’s new to them. How can new audiences be bored of music they’ve not heard before? You’ll have to think of a dfferent explanation.

  • Roderick Plaice says:

    It’s an I.Q. test specially for you.

  • M McAlpine says:

    It would appear the only people to blame are the audiences or lack of them, for not showing up!

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Actually I noticed the they had a “creative re-organisation to bring greater quality to performance and education work”

      In other words, they became over-ambitious and started spending money they did not have, and then found that the audience weren’t prepared to pay for it. Hence their demise. But they could have continued doing what they did for their first 40 years and carried on.

  • Karl says:

    At least they had notice that they were going under. I remember Boston’s Discovery Ensemble went under without warning. They announced a new conductor and their next season then they shut down. I wonder if subscribers ever got their money back.