Boris applauds musician who conducts from her kitchen

Boris applauds musician who conducts from her kitchen


norman lebrecht

February 01, 2021

A woman who conducted Beethoven’s nine symphonies from her kitchen in a project with musicians from the middle of England has received Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Points of Light award.

Nicola Ashton, from Marlborough, and her Virtual Symphonies Orchestra, has raised money for charities.

Boris wrote to her: ‘I was inspired to hear of your symphonic success in bringing together hundreds of musicians to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth.

‘Your new, virtual orchestra helped to keep the music playing in a safe and Covid secure way, while also raising vital funds for fantastic charities such as ‘MIND’ and ‘Cancer Research UK’. Until your orchestra is able to meet again in person, I hope you continue conducting from your kitchen!’



  • John Borstlap says:

    It is because he recognized the kitchen sink as a cultural object, and the location where most relational quarrels are exploding and resolved, with symphonic noises alarming the neighbours.

  • Gustavo says:

    Do I sense traces of a European spirit?

    Boris der Barmherzige?


  • Bored Muso says:

    A shameful and desperate publicity stunt from BoJo in light of the appalling treatment of him and his unsympathetic treatment of musicians throughout the pendemic… He is one of the most musically ignorant PM’s to reside in No 10 and wouldn’t know his Beethoven from his Brahms and Liszt!

    • pianoguy says:

      Over the years, I have seen BJ in the audience at many concerts and at the opera – Garsington, Covent Garden, so he might well know more than you imagine. Not defending him or his actions as PM.

      • Bored Muso says:

        Oh, of course he will be seen hobnobbing with the opera great and good – it’s for the booze and picnic he probably attends. If his love of opera is so great, why is he letting those Opera companies he has attended and supported in the past, collapse and possibly fold under his watch?
        This is the guy, like most of his Etonian & Oxford chums (many in his cabinet) who pooh poohed music and the arts at these two elitist institutions, preferring instead, to play sport and enjoy drinking clubs and pubs over music and the arts. Music lovers? Hardly.

    • Anon9 says:

      His Desert Island Discs choice (in 2005) includes Beethoven’s fifth symphony, and Brahms’ St Antoni variations, which was his favorite.
      (For USA readers – Desert Island Discs is a long-running radio program in which an invited guest chooses 8 records, a book, and a luxury.)

    • Maria says:

      Lovely gesture from Boris.

      I have seen Boris at concerts and at the opera when off duty and particularly when Mayor of London. He knows far more about music and appreciates good music more than you give him credit for. He is also very well educated and speaks four languages fluently and a working knowledge of two others – often associated with a musical ear. Far more clever than some people will give him credit for. Just all Boris-bashing which gets very boring, rather than criticise his policies and the government if you don’t like them. Not the same thing.

      • Helen says:

        Sadly though he can’t string a coherent sentence together in English!!!!

      • Bored Muso says:

        Do you read the other posts of here about how BoJo’s hapless Government has treated performers in the arts (and not juts musicians) and particularly opera companies and orchestras? I think you may be misinformed of his musical interests. Choosing Beethoven 5 on DID says it all….

      • V.Lind says:

        That’s true. I have heard him sing the Ode to Joy in German.

        He IS clever. But, on the evidence, his desire to BE PM was greater than his wish to actually DO the job. He seemed to be a good Mayor of London, because he was an enthusiastic promoter, often using himself in the promotional stakes. That seemed to be what was required of the job, though he did seem to accomplish some useful things. I suspect that was the size of canvas that suited him best — larger than editor of the Spec, smaller than the whole country.

        I have no reason to doubt that he is a real music fan. He is a good writer, is clearly hugely well read, and has a reasonably self–deprecating sense of humour that makes him an attractive TV guest panelist. He must have seemed like the sunny uplands after the dull grey May years, and he had ultimately committed to Brexit, which appealed to a demographic the Tories had not recently tapped into. But even his greatest admirers must admit that he has floundered in the job, since Day One. And it is the UK’s ill luck that he has come along at a time of two of the greatest challenges to face any PM since the war.

        I suspect BoJo is not the worst thing he will be called before he is done.

  • Brexshiteer says:

    I do wish everyone would cease calling him by the familiar Boris or BoJo. It’s lazy journalism plus he loves being addressed like this as it encourages the celebrity or pals aspect and takes a bread and circuses alto to his accountability. He’s a disgrace and not only for that reason he should be called Boris Johnson, Johnson or PM. Stop cozying up to this mendacious man who lacks principles or ability to lead.

    • Allen says:

      “Brexshiteer” ?
      Grow up.

    • V.Lind says:

      I think if he were respected people would use the terms you seem to prefer. The familiarity of the first-name or nickname usage is surely a non-malign sort of disrespect. Which I would agree his leadership has deserved.

      What on earth is a “bread and circuses alto”?

    • Maria says:

      He was known as Boris when Mayor, and happy to be called either. Also at the Daily Telegraph.
      We liked him in very Labour London as Tory mayor, and for two terms as well. The people voted him in. This post is about a Beethoven conductor, not a post for Boris-bashing.

  • Hayne says:

    PM Johnson commends her for conducting from the kitchen while he is the one causing her to do so with his unproven lockdowns. How about dealing with the Tories with this one?

    This is my opinion only. Like many politicians, I think he is seriously “compromised.” That’s all I’m going to say on the subject.

  • Musicman says:

    He is suggesting that he thinks women should stay in the kitchen…sexist!

  • JussiB says:

    Kudos. Not easy to conduct Beethoven when you’re pregnant.