Opera singer was the force behind anti-Boris chorus

Opera singer was the force behind anti-Boris chorus


norman lebrecht

September 17, 2019

The Daily Mail reports that the force behind yesterday’s Luxebourg protests agaunst the British prime minister was a Canadian-born, formerly British resident baritone, David John Pike.

Arriving with a loud-speaker and several expat friends, Pike forced Boris to cancel a press conference with the Luxembourg PM.

Operabase has no forthcoming engagements listed for David John Pike.


This picture is from his July performance in Trier of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony.



  • John Rook says:

    That’s democracy for you: prevent those you don’t like from speaking. Bravo, sir!

    • V.Lind says:

      Nobody “prevented” BoJo from speaking. Mr Bettel spoke. The Incredible Sulk OPTED not to face protesters, aka hecklers, an occupational hazard in politics, I would have thought.

      I thought it was a bit gutless, actually. Not keen on facing opposition, our Boris — he is managing to duck the House of Commons after a bare minimum of presence (only ONE PMQ since taking office, this unnecessarily long prorogation). So ducking few hecklers is right in character. Or lack thereof.

    • Emil says:

      Yes, in fact, that is democracy for you: you’re perfectly allowed to protest peacefully, even if it is disruptive. It’s a basic tenet of democratic society. I mean, that’s not even controversial.

      • Steven van Staden says:

        You don’t value freedom of speech then? And heckling is NOT “peaceful”. If you wished to hear Pike singing and I reacted by heckling, would you still hold the view you’ve expressed? If you dislike Johnson or his politics, then don’t listen, but do not trample others’ rights.

        • Emil says:

          I’ll go out on a limb and mildly suggest that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom’s ability to express himself is in no way at risk.
          In fact, I support Pike’s freedom of expression as well.

    • Gordon says:

      The UK voted leave and Boris is honouring that. I’m with Boris because like Boris I believe in democracy unlike this mediocre singer

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        May it not change its mind?

        If a woman can legitimately change her mind, can’t a people?

        • John Rook says:

          Then you call into question the legitimacy of every single election result.

          • Po says:

            That‘s why every several year we have another election! People do change mind all the time!

          • Andrejs says:

            50% plus 1 is not the decision rule for near irrevocable changes. Changes to constitutions should require about a 2/3 majority vote for reasons too long to go into here. There is a literature on voting rules.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            The difference is that the electorate can change their mind at the next election. You are suggesting Britain can not change its mind, even when the leave-campaign promised to leave with a deal when the Brexit vote happened claiming “a deal will be very easy”.

      • Seb says:

        Mediocre is certainly what we’ll become once/if it goes through.

      • Giampaolo says:

        Like suspending the parliament eh Gordon? And putting aside people who are not sharing his awful ideas? Go with Boris, Gordon but also plwSe stay with him.

      • JESB says:

        You’re qualified to judge the quality of his singing, are you?

    • Jonathon Higgins says:

      He was exercising his democratic right to protest. Boris Johnson decided not to speak, but no one was preventing him from doing so.

    • asylumkeeoer says:

      Like proroguing the British Parliament, eh, John?

  • Michel says:

    It was a great moment ! Thank you Mr Pike !

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Don’t tell ‘em your name!

  • Novagerio says:

    Well, it wouldn’t be the first time fallen singers turn to political activism, no matter the cause. Remember Malena Ernman?…

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    The majority of intelligent, free-thinking individuals (ie those who have NOT been brainwashed with Coudenhove-Kalergi and Common Purpose) realised from the start that this was an obvious rent-a-mob stitch-up.

  • christopher storey says:

    What a pathetic exhibition . I do hope he will stay in Luxembourg and not inflict himself on us again

    • JESB says:

      No, I’d rather Johnson had stayed in Luxembourg too – or anywhere – but unfortunately he came back to the UK soon after.

  • Richard Wiegold says:

    Mr Johnson wasn’t forced to cancel the press conference – the press conference went ahead, after all.

  • M McAlpine says:

    So another champion of democracy trying to drown out free speech. As his talents do not lie in singing from his empty engagement list, he probably couldn’t think of another way to get publicity. Pathetic!

    • G says:

      ‘his empty engagement list’

      His website would disagree with you it seems


      • M McAlpine says:

        Pity he then doesn’t go back to Canada to get on with his engagements instead of interrupting the British Prime Minister in a matter which is none of his business

        • david hilton says:

          How do you presume to know that Brexit is “none of his business”? Thousands of Canadians resident in the UK voted in the EU referendum. Like the citizens of the other 52 Commonwealth countries who were able to vote on the futures of the millions of French, Spanish and other non-British EU citizens (none of whom could vote themselves), he, a recent UK resident, presumably voted ‘leave’ and is no doubt distressed to see how his vote has been perverted by the current Prime Minister into an instruction effectively to destroy the nation.

        • JESB says:

          He has joint UK nationality, so it’s as much his business as yours.

          • Ruth says:

            Only if he’s a British citizen, living in or has lived out of UK/ Ireland for up to 15 yrs.
            Owning a British passport does not give you an automatic right to vote.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Huh? If you have full British citizenship them you can vote. There is no requirement to have been resident for 15 years.

          • Penny says:

            Oh, Saxon. You’re missing the point. Many of the British citizens living the the EU-27 have lost their vote because they have been out of the UK for 15 years. Despite their having no vote, their rights are about to the devastated by the disaster that is Brexit.

            THAT’s why the protestors were so (rightfully) angry. Their lives are about to be torn apart.

          • Tamsin says:

            that is not true. lots of brit expats in europe can’t vote because they have been away for 15 years. they’re disenfranchised but are totally screwed by brexit.

            get educated.

        • Una says:


    • JESB says:

      And Johnson is a champion of democracy, is he? Proroguing Parliament to silence opposition.

  • Karl says:

    They go further here in the US. Our SJWs heckle politicians in restaurants. Don’t just prevent your political opponents from speaking, prevent them from eating too!

  • chunky says:

    Who enlisted this washed up crooner to lead the protest and how much was he paid?

  • John tranter says:

    What is an opera singer?an actor involved in musical drama ,l know been one since 1972 not someone like him.

  • Robert Groen says:

    What do you mean “forced Boris to cancel a press conference”? Boris wasn’t forced to do anything by anyone. Boris saw what he was going to get in the way of vocal opposition and decided to duck it.

  • Eurotenor says:

    For the benefit of the non professional musicians on this post, the UK creative sector and classical music in particular relies heavily on Freedom of Movement and will be decimated by any form of Brexit. It matters because the creative sector employs 2 million people in the UK (fishing for example only 10k) and is worth £100 billion to the UK economy (fishing less than £1b).
    If we don’t keep Freedom of Movement many of my colleagues will go bust. That’s the reality for many opera singers and classical musicians in the UK in 2019.

    • Maria says:

      British singers, as they used to, will now get more work!

      • Are you a British singer, Maria? A soloist? Because if you are, and believe that Brexit offers any benefit at all for British singers, you are one of only two that I know of, and the other one has a career which rarely takes them abroad. Several British singers, amongst them Dame Sarah Connolly, Anna Patalong and Ben Nelson, are proud and prominent Remain campaigners. At a recent march, I found myself standing next to a British singer of exceptional distinction, whom I hadn’t seen since we’d appeared together at one of the world’s most important opera houses (I won’t be mentioning this singer’s name, as, although I presume it would be OK to do so, I’m not certain).

        I hope you’re right that, if Brexit happens, British singers will benefit. But finding oneself excluded from the biggest artistic single market in world history isn’t a good starting point for success.

    • Ruth says:

      Oh dear, they’ll have to fill out a few forms before leaving then, just like all EU citizens have to do when venturing out of the EU member states bubble.

  • OM says:

    Boris acted like a primadonna who got indisposed just because somobody in the orcestra pit gave her a funny wink.

  • Sandra Olney says:

    I’m personally glad to see some protest which was essentially against Brexit, conveyed by PM who seemed determined to plunge the UK into a non-solution. And by the way, I doubt the one commenter has heard this first-rate baritone. I have.

  • Hans Niesund says:

    I’m sure doxxing an opera singer is a welcome distraction for the Incredible Captain Underpants, but the more interesting story is what accounts for such totally unChrchillian behaviour on the part of the great man. It’s not as if he tried to speak and was then drowned out by a singer and his “several friends”, he just legged it forthwith and left it to Bettel to handle the 145 journalists present. What was he thinking of? He must surely have known how cowardly this must look, especially after his Incredible Hulk posturing of the day before, and notwithstanding his cheerleaders in the British press and elsewhere. He must have feared something worse. Such as, for example, Bettel openly contradicting his usual guff in front of the journalists and cameras present, and the nasty questions that would then have ensued. As we saw the next day on his hospital visit, he’s not that good on his feet, and his instinctive propensity to spout lies can be deeply damaging. Much less risky to scuttle off to the Embassy for an easy time from Laura Kuensberg, and blame the debacle on his host.

    What a wretch the man is.

  • Xyz says:

    What a lie and absolute balderdash. The Daily Mail needs to stop making such nonsense up! When will its persecution of people who would like the UK to remain part of the EU that come to its attention ever stop?
    The demonstration was a spontaneous reaction to the fact that the protesters had learned that Mr Johnson would be visiting Luxembourg that Monday. The protesters were not pro-EU yobs, as they were referred to. They were all upstanding people who expressed their feelings about a man who continually lies and is determined to take the UK out of the EU, no matter what the cost to the country and its people. (There were even babies in prams, for God’s sake!) A man who wrote two articles, one in favour of remaining in the EU, and another in favour of leaving. He chose the side that best suited his interests, stabbing friends and colleagues in the back.
    The protesters were noisy, but had been asked by the press not to make a lot of noise when Mr Johnson took to the podium to speak, so that they could hear what he wished to day. The protesters agreed. They were hardly the type of people to start throwing eggs and rushing the gates!
    There was criticism of the fact that the Luxembourg PM did not move the press conference indoors. It was explained and shown that the building in which the Luxembourg PM’s office was located could not hold all 100 or so journalists present. It was not the Luxembourg PM’s fault that the crowd outside his offices was noisy. To the smart ass who said that they would have found a place inside if it had been raining, I say that they would have held umbrellas over the PMs.
    The reason Boris Johnson did not speak at the press gathering had nothing to do with the protesters. He was so deflated by the fact that Mr Juncker had told him straight that an agreement relating to sanitary and phytosanitary health with respect to Northern Ireland and Ireland did not mean that checks would not be carried out on all other goods. (Bang went the back door into Europe). A better class of press reported that Mr Johnson physically slumped in his chair and turned to Mr Barclay and asked if that was true. Mr Barclay confirmed that it was. Mr Johnson used the protesters as a scapegoat because he was so gutted by what he was told that he could not bring himself to face the press. What could he have said? Imagine having told the whole country that you would get a cherry-pick deal only to find that you hadn’t understood the most basic of facts about the EU with regard to the single market. As stated in one of the newspapers, the penny has finally dropped.
    True to form, Mr Johnson acted like the proverbial that can’t have its own way, and all the vitriolic, lying rags blamed a bunch of peaceful, if noisy, protesters for his decision not to speak at the press conference.
    Returning to Mr Pike. He assisted the protesters by using a megaphone on their behalf to make their feelings about Brexit known. He did not tell any lies. He did not swear. He did not incite the protesters. They were there of their own free will.
    It is a disgrace that the gutter press has maligned Mr Pike, the Luxembourg PM, Mr Juncker and the protesters. They would do well to examine Mr Johnson‘s conduct. I believe he was the person who was rude and completely lacking in decorum.
    He stomped off and left the Luxembourg PM to deal with the journalists. Then a bunch of ‘journalists’’ blamed the protesters for his gutless behaviour.

  • A few words about my friend, David Pike. Like Boris Johnson, he was born in North America, and like Mr. Johnson, he is British and a British citizen. He is a successful and much admired singer, known especially for his exceptional sensitivity to text in art songs. He is also a cultivated and highly intelligent person who was attending his first ever political protest on the occasion described here, in a group of people of all ages. Permission had been requested, as is the law in Luxembourg, and had been granted. As I understand it, the demonstrators were quiet once the Press Conference had begun. Mr Johnson chose not to appear but the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and his officials continued with it as planned – there was nothing stopping them, after all.

    That this blog takes such a pro-Brexit stance causes a degree of bewilderment amongst British professional musicians. Support for Brexit is vanishingly rare amongst us, and for several reasons –

    First of all, because Brexit, and the end of Freedom of Movement, threatens our livelihoods and the careers we have dedicated our lives to creating.

    Musicians spend their lives finding ways of understanding cultures other than their own. I’ve sung in more than a dozen languages and in around two dozen countries. The music of Richard Wagner dominates my career – but I am not German, I am from a small town in the South Wales valleys. Art is about understanding the human condition…and the human condition is that we’re all really very similar. After all, why do the works of Mozart, Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Margaret Atwood etc ‘resonate’ around the world?

    Focussing such rage and ire on a professional musician who was standing in support of his fellow performers was not an admirable move.

  • Edward Elgar says:

    The unanimous judgment passed today by the UK Supreme Court, that Boris Johnson acted unlawfully and misled the Queen when proroguing Parliament, utterly vindicates David Pike’s action in participating in a spontaneous protest against Johnson’s actions by UK citizens in Luxembourg. The Daily Mail’s attempt to smear him and attack his livelihood is, on the contrary, utterly unjustified. The group were lively but peaceful, listened attentively to the Luxembourg PM and would have done so for Johnson, had he had the good manners to speak instead of using the protest as an excuse to leave because he apparently had nothing of note to say. Pike is a talented musician and a decent man of courage and conviction. Like so many other UK and EU citizens, particularly those involved in the arts, his life and livelihood are under attack by Brexit. It is to his credit that he spoke up to defend his rights and those of fellow musicians and UK citizens.

    • Alice Jaeger says:

      The protestors even played “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations while they waited for the UK PM to arrive. There were tears.