BBC meets UK orchestras on its classical future

BBC meets UK orchestras on its classical future


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2022

The Association of British Orchestras conference is staging a session this morning with BBC suits Patrick Holland and Alan Davey (pic) to discuss ‘how we can best work together in the future’ in light of the newly-launched review of its classical activities.

Meaning: less is more.

The BBC has clarified to that ‘the review is not a public consultation … but of course we’re keen to hear expressions of interest from organisations who are keen to feed in, regardless of the size of the organisation.’

Wider still, and wider.



  • Tony says:

    Will Nadine Dorries attend?
    Does anyone know who is her favourite composer?

  • Ya what says:

    I can imagine their press release in a few months:

    ‘In order to adapt to the ever-changing classical climate of 2021, we have now decided to focus on the truly great and widely-listened classical composers of today, such as Ludovico Einaudi, Karl Jenkins, and Jon Batiste (the latter obviously being classical as he is a nominee of the Grammies Best Contemporary Classical Composition). Furthermore, Jon Batiste is also a person of colour, further empowering our ideological passion of promoting less-represented communities through diversity.

    In addition to our groundbreaking support of contemporary music as above, in order to introduce classical music to younger audiences of the internet era, all our broadcasts on TV and Radio of classical music will be replaced with ‘bites’ of 3-minute excerpts, and we will ban the broadcast of live, long concerts as well as any uninterrupted broadcasts of continuous classical music over 3 minutes in order to make music truly accessible to all, whenever and wherever, and break down the stigma of classical music being elitist.’

    • John Borstlap says:

      The Scottish sculptor Alexander Stoddart once said: ‘I’m all for elitism, elitism for everybody’.

      The confusion of the notion of quality with that of elitism is deeply disturbing.

  • "OBE" says:

    The ABO under its current leadership is a self appointed champion of sycophancy, faced with a government that can count amongst it’s dubious accolades a thinly veiled contempt for arts and music.
    From covid to brexit, it’s only expertise has been in appearing to effortlessly piggy back onto the achievements of others (few though those are), whilst all the while masquerading as “representatives” of the UK orchestral industry (NB: no one votes for them, least of all musicians).

    Ambitious and sociopathic these suits may be, but of little value to the crumbling touring prospects, almost non existent state music education provision and covid “recovery” (when the ACE funds run dry) now impacts music and musicians across the United Kingdom.

    The ABO should keep its grubby and unqualified opinion off the BBC:
    The BBC belongs to the nation, not to the ABO, not to the DCMS, not to “outsourced opinion”.

    Musicians would do well to self represent and speak truth to power.

  • Eduardo says:

    the writing is on the wall…..sadly…. there has been no government having a coherent arts policy for so many years, it is always cuts cuts and more cuts……
    as Lawrence Durrell famously said, “art is for arting and farts for farting…” our governments do the second…..

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    Why is it that every time I see the letters B.. B.. C.. alongside anything to do with orchestras or the arts, I feel sick? I, too, fear this marks the end. I can see all musicians, orchestral or otherwise, will be re-trained for worthwhile jobs in the nearest salt mines to keep this perverse outfit and Tory government in power and forced to watch endless old repeats of Top of the Pops on B… B…. (no, sorry, I can’t finish the lettering) whilst they work. Gawd help us all.

  • fflambeau says:

    At least, the BBC is listening.

  • Julian Begg says:

    Are they listening, really? Is this a “talk at” as opposed to a “listen to …” meeting.

  • Ellingtonia says:

    Why the hell should BBC orchestras be subsidised by the tax payer, musicians of other genres have to either sell CDs/ Downloads of bring in customers to concerts. I think it is known as market forces, if your product or service is not what the public wants then you go out of business, and please don’t give me any BS about classical music being “high art”……… is a musical genre that appeals to about 5% of the population (me being one of them).

    • John Borstlap says:

      Maybe you are on the wrong website.

      Classical music IS high art, and there is definitely a difference between high and low art, also where the boundaries seem to overlap a bit. High art is important for the whole of society, while low art – entertainment – has quite different aims. There is nothing against entertainment music, but it should know its place in the whole of society.

      Fasten your seat belts:

      High art is a representation of the best faculties of the human mind and heart, and a repository of knowledge and understanding of what educated people know is ‘the human condition’. It offers a virtual space for reflection and understanding of our civilisation, and has an ordering influence upon our emotional field, and a positive influence on the experience of Self. So, it is a ‘common good’ and thus, should be accessible to all, and it is puffickly normal to be paid for the community by the community through the tax system. So, it is no mere entertainment, although this is a part of it. But it is much, much more.

      I will stop now because this may upset you, and my PA is shaking her head in disbelief.

      • Ellingtonia says:

        Well, I have read some bullshit in my time but even you Mr B have excelled yourself with this trite arrogance. And since when were you appointed as the adjudicator of what should be defined as high art? Oh, I forgot, you profess to be a composer of “classic music”………..excuse me whilst I wipe away a tear!

    • Piston1 says:

      No, sorry, it is high art. Seriously. Which is why, even today, brilliant young people of all races and backgrounds are willing to devote their entire lives to its perfection. And you obviously have no idea as to what an incredible range of corporations are actually subsidized by the British taxpayer whether he likes it or not.