Major agent calls for less flying

Major agent calls for less flying


norman lebrecht

December 22, 2019

I’ve hit a nerve with this month’s essay, calling on orchestras to stop flying.

Two Nordic orchestras – Lahti and Helsingborg – say they have gone carbon-free. Lahti quit flying as early as 2015 and its Swedish counterpart signed up some time last year. Helsingborg also avoids flying in guest conductors and soloists.

Now the London agent Jasper Parrott, who made his fortune flying dozens of orchestras and artists around the world over the past half-century, is having a change of heart. Here’s what he writes in the Guardian:

…. this crisis is the responsibility of all of us. Everyone must be conscious of their behaviour and acknowledge the active part they have to play. Planning permission for all new concert halls, for example, should only be given if the buildings will be carbon neutral. Existing concert halls must make radical changes to ensure they are as close to carbon neutral as possible. I’m proud of our musicians who are leading by example. Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (pictured) last season partnered with the musicians from the Orchester des Wandels (the Orchestra of Change) and performed works written as a reaction to the climate crisis, with all proceeds donated to environmental projects. Kopatchinskaja now organises her schedule so as to travel by train as much as possible, and our touring department plan tours that allow orchestras to avoid taking flights….

It’s taking off.

Or, rather not.


  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I remember Claudio Abbado, who was equally concerned about these issues, but would fly everywhere with his own chartered plane. Those who preach about these issues will have to demonstrate that they are genuinely doing their own part. Even more than planes, it would be a great progress if we give up on our cars & travel by public transport instead. There is a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to these issues.

  • barry guerrero says:

    This nonsense is enough to make me want to become a Trump zombie (don’t worry, I just can’t do that).

  • SamUchida says:

    So does Mr Parrott support the building of the third runway at London Heathrow Airport, or does he not? That is the question … !

    • SVM says:

      The real question is, will Boris (who once vowed to lie in front of the bulldozers) use his majority to cancel the expansion once and for all? In any case, London has more than enough aviation capacity already.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        SVM writes: “London has more than enough aviation capacity already”

        The people who own Heathrow airport disagree with you (as do many others). The last government report on the matter argued that London needed one more runway, and thought it should be at Heathrow (although it suggested Gatwick as an alternative).

  • christopher storey says:

    Sententious drivel, parroting ( pun intended) meaningless weasel phrases such as ” carbon neutral “

  • Has-been says:

    If you read the entire article it is nothing more than blatant self promotion for his agency. Shamefull !!

  • X.Y. says:

    Reading this Trumpian hostility: For environmental reasons Kopatchinskaja gave up her car in 2016 and 2018 also her artistic partnership with Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (USA, necessitating six transatlantic flights per year). This is replaced by an artistic partnership with the Camerata Bern in her hometown. The Camerata is committed to a low carbon-footprint, e.g. the last tour through Germany and Holland was by bus. Kopatchinskaja is actively working on her short distance network. These are significant steps, even if not everything can be changed at short notice.

    • Thomasina says:

      She will have an Asian tour with Currentzis and musicAeterna in April 2020 and it was just announced last month.

  • Bill says:

    It’ll be a bit more convincing when we see active steps to dissuade the audience from traveling long distances to see the performers!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    You cannot use rail or car and be ‘carbon free’. But this has always been a largely hysterical, fact-free ideology.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Sigh…using rail uses dramatically less carbon then either taking the car or flying. Just because it does not use zero carbon doesn’t mean it isn’t a bit better for carbon emissions.

  • Peter says:

    If you accept that we are facing a climate crisis, then we have three options:
    1. Change your ways and try to reduce or eliminate your carbon impact – and that leaves you open to charges of inconsistency and hypocrisy,
    2. Say that others caused it and others have to fix it, since they are more significant so they have to change first.
    This option allows a fair amount of virtue signalling at the same time, which allows one to feel better.
    3. Deny that there’s a problem even though you know there is.

  • ParrottHotAir says:

    Jasper Parrott should stop talking about things he doesn’t understand. This will reduce the amount of hot air in the world.