Media watch: The LSO’s pet yaps again

Media watch: The LSO’s pet yaps again


norman lebrecht

June 18, 2021

This is starting to get embarrasing.

London has five large symphony orchestras but only one of them gets coverage in the Times newspaper, where columnist Richard Morrison (pictured) has a longstanding intimacy with the London Symphony Orchestra as its centennial chronicler.

Morrison repeatedly features the LSO in his Friday column. Today, he writes about how the LSO can get to play in France next month, which is nice for them when most of us will still be stuck at home.

So there was goodwill on both sides, and vital interventions from diplomats as well as culture ministers in Paris and London. (It helped the behind-the-scenes string-pulling that a former British ambassador to Paris is on the LSO’s advisory council.) Yet that didn’t mean that clearing the hurdles now facing British ensembles wanting to tour Europe was a walk in the park. Let me briefly list what had to be done.

Well, good for the LSO, which always like to position itself as being ahead of the game.

But three other orchestras – Philharmonia, London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic – have new music directors starting this year with barely a peep in the Times – and the BBC’s orchestra is gearing up for the Proms in unusual and complicated fashion. Not to mention Liverpool which has a new music director just arroved in town, Birmingham which is on a hectic search and Manchester which, like its football teams, is in the transfer market.

All good stories, yet barely a smidgeon of attention in the Murdoch Times, which has fallen dangerously into the lap of one orchestra.

They should just rename the paper the London Symphony Times.




    All the London orchestras are going to need help, both to survive and to thrive. If the LSO has influential connections, good for them. What are the other orchestras doing to cultivate connections? Don’t blame the LSO for its status and its friends – the orchestra has earned both.

  • CelloFellow says:

    As frustrating as it is – it is just a symptom of the larger problem of the UK’s overall London-centric attitude.

    The BBC’s decision to move the Concert Orchestra out of London is a good first step, but will ultimately change very little until more orchestras, talent agencies, etc follow suit.

    In addition to the orchestras you mentioned – LSO, BBCSO, LPO, Philharmonia, and RPO – there is also London Sinfonietta, Aurora, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, English Chamber Orchestra, English Concert, London Contemporary Orchestra, Southbank Sinfonia, City of London Sinfonia, etc etc etc…

    It simply is oversaturated.

  • alan says:

    This is the primary reason why I rarely, if ever, read Morrison’s column. It’s little more than LSO propaganda. Very tiresome when so many other orchestras nationally are worthy of coverage, even if the London scene can appear crowded at times.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    I was told on very good authority that a leading conductor had blacklisted Morrison after giving him an interview during which an indiscretion about another conductor – given off the record – had been deliberately revealed by Morrison. Some journalists just love to blab.

    • Steve says:

      “Some journalists just love to blab.” Which is indeed usually the first thing that anybody is taught in media training. You can never rely on anything staying “off the record”. Which begs the question what the “leading conductor’s” motives were in sharing the indiscretion. Either they were hoping it would be revealed or they were so keen to appear “in the know” that they disregarded the risk. As a friend of mine used to say, “I was told this in the strictest confidence so I can only tell one person at a time.”

  • drummerman says:

    The New York Times virtually ignores all of the orchestras in the city and concentrates on the Philharmonic.

    • MacroV says:

      Not really the same. London has 5 orchestras of comparable size and scale. No other orchestra in New York (besides the MET) is comparable to the Philharmonic. It’s basically the Philharmonic and whoever is playing at Carnegie Hall. Though I suppose they could spend some time covering the New Jersey Symphony across the river in Newark.

    • AstorCub says:

      I don’t know about that. The Met Opera Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra of St Luke’s get their share of ink…

  • Amos says:

    The obvious conflict(s) of interest when a newspaper’s or magazine’s music critic/writer has a separate arrangement with the orchestra that they cover has been problematic for decades. In the 1960’s the SFSO’s program annotator was also the critic for one of the local newspapers and it resulted in a major flap and ultimately the replacement of the MD. In a less contentious more recent example the then program annotator of the PO was reviewing the orchestra’s recordings in an influential periodical. Simply acknowledging potential conflicts in print isn’t enough.

  • Donna Pasquale says:

    Very true