The dramatic cancellation of last night's Philadelphia Orchestra BBC Prom due to a fire was the first Promenade Concert to be lost for twenty-six years. In 1980 the circumstances of the cancellations were far more serious and damaging, and the story is worth retelling to underline how precarious is the livelihood of our wonderful performing musicians. A financial crisis that had simmered at the BBC for several years flared up in February 1980 when a large package of economies were proposed to save £130m ($235). The proposal involved disbanding five orchestras, including the BBC Scottish , in a move aimed at saving £500,000 ($900,000) a year, or eight per cent of the BBC's music expenditure . On May 16 1980 the Musician's Union voted to strike against the BBC, and two weeks later the musicians of the BBC Symphony , and all other BBC musicians, stopped work. The dispute was not just about job losses, the musicians suspected a hidden agenda of a move away from contract o
You might like to know that I have put three samples from the last concert onto the Voces website.
Go to www.voceschoral.webs.com and click on 'Listen to us'.
More passion than polish, but none the worse for that, and the audience feedback has been terrific. A pity about the unmuffled coughing...
With best wishes,
Martyn Warren, Director
Voces - Renaissance Choral Music
Voces previousl featured here http://www.overgrownpath.com/2008/03/what-price-music-of-unsung-master.html
One comment on your 'Wouldn't it be lovely' post this morning: I suspect that most classical musicians love to talk about their music - their passion. The problem is that, unless one is in the superstar category, the general media will only want to talk with a classical musician if he or she has something to 'sell' - either literally, as in concert tickets or CDs, or metaphorically in the shape of radical new ideas, great success, great disaster, or scandal. Admittedly my experience is at a pretty low level, trying to interest local/regional print and broadcast media, but I suspect it is typical.
Things have changed markedly in the last 10 to 15 years. In the past our regional newspaper had an arts editor, who attended events in person and interviewed artists - no more. The BBC local news programme had a 5-minute slot on a Friday evening previewing upcoming arts events - no more. I had no trouble interesting local radio in mini-features based around our music, and more than once have spent a happy hour in a radio studio chatting live about renaissance choral music and my choir - I don't expect that to happen again.
I am generalising from the specific, and I am sure that you will get opposing views.
Best wishes, and keep up the good work,
Too often we, and I include myself in this, blame the musicians for attention seeking.
But in many cases the musicians are hostages, willing or otherwise, of the commercial/intermediary complex, and of the media and agents in particular.
Which brings us back to the question that my article linked to above asks. Who is benefitting from disintermediation in classical music? Is it the music, or is it the commercial/intermediary complex?
But I am becoming incresingly uncomfortable with the concept that "Classical Music needs all the help it can get."
Just think today's BBC Radio 3, Norman Lebrecht, and the Classical Brit Awards etc etc.
Classical music needs help, but it needs the right kind of help. Many of the problems facing classical music today have been caused by the greed of the middle feeders who have used the mantra that "Classical Music needs all the help it can get" to further their own agendas.
Defining the right kind of help is very difficult, if not impossible. But we can at least try.