Melbourne musicians are saved by donor

A local magnate called Michael Aquilina has stepped in to help players in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra who are struggling on reduced furlough wages or welfare.

He has launched an online Michael Aquilina Chamber Music Festival on May 30-31, continuing with a month of Saturday Galas and weekday chamber music highlights.

‘It broke my heart to learn that some of Australia’s finest musicians were facing financial hardship,’ he said. ‘And also that they would be deprived of the opportunity to engage and play together as a result of the Coronavirus.’

The MSO has stood down 75 musicians and 13 staff whom it pays a JobKeeper allowance of (Aus) $1,500 per fortnight.

The musicians have been vocally unhappy.


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  • Dear Michael what a wonderful guy you are, and what a wonderful thing you are doing, love Deborah Cannan xo ❤️

  • $1500(Aus) a fortnight is helluva lot better than the zero pounds which British players are receiving! Marvellous gesture. But where are all the British millionaires subsidising our orchestras?

    • Where are the UK government subsidies to furloughed employees? I don’t recall hearing that they exclude artists. Freelancers in this field, as in others, may be in a dodgier position, but they always were. (And presumably freelancers have some other employment to supplement their musical earnings. I know they do in Canada — I once ran into an opera singer I had seen on stage the night before — in a principal role — working in a shop I happened into).

      Rishi Sunak is spending like a Labour leader on speed, so I hope some of it is going to artists.

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