Is the UK Government finally listening?

Is the UK Government finally listening?


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2020

Fiona Maddocks, in a thoughtful Observer survey of traumatised classical activity, reports  on Thursday’s Government summons to four concert stars with a view to constructing an emergency rescue plan.

One seed of hope, she finds, is a likely shortening of the distance rule from 2 metres to 1.

Whereas European orchestras have public funding (around 80%), the UK is dependent on earned income, notably box office. Restricted audience numbers are untenable. A 1 metre distancing rule, rather than 2 metres, would begin to look workable: up to 50 players and larger audiences. Yet only last week, 3 metres was announced as the safest distance for woodwind and brass.



  • RM says:

    A seed of hope?

    The UK finds itself in the same position as the US. “Herd Immunity” at the start for the UK and in thinly veiled disguise, effectively, “Herd Immunity” here in the US.

    That means there are going to have to be sacrifices for the common good it’s argued, even if you lose musicians (especially wind players) and their families to CV while at the same time lose the confidence of the audience to return by packing them in.


    • Alan says:

      And what is your proposal? Continue social distancing until well in to next year? No symphonic works or large choral works until when? Wind players in Perspex boxes?
      And, quite frankly, why are we so afraid of a virus that seems only to affect the elderly and those with co morbidities. By all means protect the vulnerable but for the rest of us life is for the living.
      If I could return to a full concert hall and sit in the front stalls tomorrow to hear a Mahler Symphony I would.

      • RM says:

        Aren’t you exaggerating just a bit?

        Are you from somewhere other than the UK or the US?

        By that kind of logic, the fervent desire to attend the cult of Trump last night in OK. was indeed okay?

        Everybody wants to go back to a newly modified form of life – but safely. That’s my proposal.

        As a wind player in a major US orchestra, I’m not prepared to be sacrificed along with my friends, relatives and colleagues at the altar of Social Darwinism or Ayn Randian Libertarianism.

        Continental Europe and Asia have done it right for now and we haven’t – that is unless there’s some kind of nihilism driving this whole thing.

        There will just have to be a slower comeback for those countries that responded too late or with the fevered dream of achieving herd immunity.

        Unfortunately, all of us will have to pay the price for that.

      • TonyF says:

        Dear Alan,

        I am surprised to read that the elderly and those with “co morbities” (whatever they are) may be written off for you as locusts or carpet- fleas.

        Give us a break. Listen to Mahler through plenty of other means while the world becomes a safer place.

        • Minnesota says:

          You might take 30 seconds to look up comorbidities. Their presence or absence have a lot to do with the odds of your surviving or dying from a Covid-19 attack.

        • Jan Kaznowski says:

          == “co morbidities” (whatever they are)

          Google is your friend. You could have looked it up in the time it took you to type. Please join us in 2020

      • Amos says:

        For the umpteenth time the virus infects everyone. Fatalities are skewed to the elderly and those with comorbidities but even the healthy are dying. Yes, if you want to be a member of a civilized society you need to follow public health guidelines until a vaccine is available. What you want is irrelevant when everyone around you is adversely effected. Governments should financially assist people who are unable to work due to the pandemic and not give in to uninformed people like you who don’t care about their fellow citizens.

      • Miko says:

        Your enjoyment of a Mahler symphony should not lead to the death of another human being.

      • Maria says:

        Many of us just wouldn’t because life’s priorities have changed and some of us are also simply changed people! Enjoy your Mahler when it comes around!

  • Dave says:

    The reduction of the distancing from 2 to 1 metre is being pushed by business; there has been no change in the science. It will suit the government to go along with this as it saves them having to give meaningful financial support to the classical sector.

    As for those happy to put their need for Mahler before the need to protect the more vulnerable…