Breaking: Scots ensemble collapses with musicians unpaid

Breaking: Scots ensemble collapses with musicians unpaid


norman lebrecht

January 24, 2023

The Glasgow-based Nevis Ensemble went bust this morning. We hear that musicians are owed fees.

Here’s the official statement:


It is with the saddest of hearts that, effective Tuesday 24 January 2023, the Board of Trustees close the doors of Nevis Ensemble.  

Since 2018, Nevis Ensemble has delivered almost 700 orchestral performances, as well as hundreds of workshops, and dozens of musician development sessions. Our vision of music for everyone, everywhere has seen Nevis Ensemble remove barriers to accessing orchestral music by bringing performances to the people, wherever they are. From swimming pools, schools, supermarkets and museums to a farm in the Scottish Borders and the summit of Ben Nevis in the Highlands – and everywhere in between, including the biggest ever tour by an orchestra of the Outer Hebrides – our approach to performing has seen us win at the Scottish Awards for New Music in 2019 and 2020, and be shortlisted for the Classical:NEXT Innovation Award in 2022. 

In five short years, Nevis Ensemble has changed the narrative of what orchestras and classical music in general should be doing, in terms of inclusion, promoting new music, and sustainability. In 2021 we were awarded the ISM Award for New Music in Covid Times for our project Lochan Sketches, as well as the Environmental Sustainability Award at the Scottish Awards for New Music for our groundbreaking work with the Scottish Classical Sustainability Group. 

In 2022, we established our base at Platform in Easterhouse with our 19 Fellows and set about developing partnerships to ensure the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society could access the benefits of music, particularly in relation to health and wellbeing, social cohesion, and the simple but powerful feeling of joy. 


  • Fed up with poor governance says:

    £11,000 bursary x 19 fellows = £209,000. Have a look at their last set of accounts – haven’t seen that kind of income before… not including other costs, staff fees etc.

    Trustees need to be reported to OSCR and held responsible for this travesty

  • DH says:

    Sad news. This was a very active, outgoing, personable, well run and enterprising group of young musicians. According to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator the group’s total expenditure for the past four year period was just over £451,000. The group claims to given more than 700 performances over that period. That works out at about £645 a performance – about the same as four nights for one in a Glasgow Premier Inn.
    Surely Scotland can do better than this?

    • Bad Governance says:

      I think the issue here is as much – if not more – bad governance, as opposed to a difficult funding environment. Sounds like they massively expanded, overstretched themselves, and definitely did not have adequate risk assessment, or reserves policy.

  • relobed says:

    The blame seems to lie as always with funding cuts, but that doesn’t explain the cessation of trade with immediate effect and leaving these poor musicians out of work. Much more to this than meets the eye

  • RT says:

    Questions MUST be asked of the Board of Trustees if musicians and staff have gone unpaid. Hardly a charitable thing to do – think of all the future projects working with vulnerable people – now cancelled. I am devastated for those communities.

    I hope OSCR do a full investigation. This clearly hasn’t been a case of good governance. None of them should be allowed to be trustees ever again.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    The Nevis Ensemble accounts list for year ending 2020: total musician fees and travel (sic!) ca. 45 thousand pounds, chief executive ca. 30 thousand pounds. I think we should be told how the fees and travel costs break down. And why 30 grand went to suit Jamie Munn. Also why musicians have not been paid. The figures never lie. Poor planning.

    • anon says:

      The latest accounts at cite £53893 for musician fees+travel and £29880 for the chief executive in 2020 (although there seem to be two 2020 financial-year-ends, one on 31st December and an earlier one on 3rd January). Then, in the period 1st January 2021 to 31st March 2022, £92526 for musician fees+travel and £34780 for the chief executive.

      But the thrust of the argument presented by La plus belle voix is still valid.

      By the way, how did the trustees/auditors/OSCR not spot the howler on p.20, 3rd column (which seems mostly to be the 4th column repeated)? Admittedly, a very easy mistake to make, but also very easy to spot.

      • MacTalisker says:

        Hard to tell that much from the accounts. There’s an awful lot of self-serving puff to wade through before you get to the actual figures. It’s pretty clear that the size of the operation cannot easily justify the overheads involved in running it. It’s very sad that musicians have been left out of pocket.

  • Robert says:

    Incredibly sad. Easterhouse has the worst deprivation of anywhere I’ve seen in the UK.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    How do you make a small fortune in the orchestra business?

    Start with a large one.

  • Scrutin says:

    Errors in expenditure on page 21 of also… 2nd and 6th column totals incorrect (should be £77665/£120287 respectively). How was this signed off??

  • La plus belle voix says:

    Regarding the apparently inaccurate accounts submitted, here is a (not necessarily accurate) list of the Nevis Ensemble trustees:

    Carol Fleming, Fraser Gordon, Ewan McGill, Karen MacIver, Dr. Gameli Tordzro, Ankna Arockiam, Dr. Rachel Drury, Dr. Jamie Hill, Su-a Lee and Nicolas Zekulin. Plus Jamie Munn, Chief Executive.

    They need to be held responsible, as do those who signed off the accounts. Perhaps someone has more up to date information . . .

  • Chair of another music org says:

    From their 2022 annual submission:

    “Reserves policy
    Trustees aim to hold approximately three months’ worth of annual budget core costs. The
    Trustees feel this would be sufficient funds to allow the charity to be wound up, if
    necessary. This would be £12,000. The charity has a small reserve with an ongoing aim to
    reach the three-month goal. The Trustees keep a close eye on project spending with the aim
    of beginning to contribute to reserves as the charity develops.”

    Two things strike me as odd with this. Firstly, for every charity I’ve worked with, our reserves policy has been set to help the organisation continue rather than to cover against winding up. Secondly, they should have the ability to pay any fees owed.

    From just a cursory reading of the annual report, the ensemble did not divest income sources enough nor put enough focus on individual giving. The report speaks of company growth in 22/23 and the moving of staff from freelance to employee contracts – both expensive propositions. I would personally want to see higher income levels and a vastly increased reserve levels before embarking on either of these.

    The board certainly has collective responsibility and so does the management, but Nevis not run into the ground over time, it looks like it just overstretched without adequate protections.

  • Easterhouseears says:

    This has to be throughly investigated.

    There are some serious allegations of; musicians not being paid for work, not only from last month, but work completed months and months ago, rents not being paid and other outstanding debts.

    OSCR and possibly HMRC have to hold the board accountable. List of the board (before the website went dark):
    Carol Fleming, Fraser Gordon, Ewan McGill, Karen MacIver, Dr. Gameli Tordzro, Ankna Arockiam, Dr. Rachel Drury, Dr. Jamie Hill, Su-a Lee and Nicolas Zekulin. Plus Jamie Munn, CEO.

    I mean really, how did a 5 year old organisation go from 1-3 employees to a staff of 9 in the office and a part time paid fellowship for 19 musicians?