Classical music is all about nuance

'In 2005 [Clemency] Burton-Hill co-founded Aurora Orchestra' - Wikipedia 15/04/2012

'Aurora was founded in 2005 by conductors Nicholas Collon and Robin Ticciati, who gathered around them an ensemble of the UK’s leading emerging soloists' - Aurora Orchestra website
My post on the Independent's recent Gustavo Dudamel feature has been picked up by the Radio 3 Forum, and a contributor to the forum has highlighted the two contradictory statements above. The explanation presumably is that Clemency Burton-Hill, who is a talented violinist as well as a media celebrity, was one of the original invited members of the Aurora Orchestra, but did not co-found it. Which as the forum contributor points out "isn't quite the same thing". A question of nuance maybe, but isn't classical music and journalism all about nuance? And yes, anyone can edit Wikipedia. But the article edit history and Ms Burton-Hill's personal website are also worth reading. Does classical music really need this nonsense?

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Pliable said…
An anonymous and invective laden comment arrives which when defused states the following:

"Musically, Aurora was co-founded by Ticciati and Collon, as I am sure the orchestra is proud to highlight on its website. Administratively the orchestra was also co-founded - with Collon and Ticciati - by Louis Watt (now Aurora chairman) and Clemency Burton-Hill."

I do not know who supplied this information. But assuming it is correct, hopefully the Aurora Orchestra will now amend its website to credit all the co-founders - musical and administrative.
Pliable said…
Miranda Kate Jackson comments via Facebook -

"That struck a raw nerve!"

Yes Miranda, apparently so.
John Harte said…
Just spotted this thread on a Google alert and thought it might be useful to clarify Clemency's involvement in the creation of Aurora. The statement in the anonymous comment published above is basically accurate - ie Collon and Ticciati were the original musical founders of the orchestra; Clemency and Louis Watt were also part of the original management committee which ran Aurora behind the scenes. A small number of principal players were also closely involved in these early stages in the creation of the orchestra. All played a vital role in building the orchestra up from scratch.

You may disagree, but the biography on the Aurora website seems to me to give about the right level of detail - as most arts administrators will tell you (possibly with a hint of regret!), people tend to be more interested in artists than managers, and so it doesn't seem to me at all unusual that Collon and Ticciati should be foregrounded in this context (just as I wouldn't expect to see my name, or a list of our trustees, mentioned in the orchestra's biography when it appears in a concert programme).

Hope this clears things up. For what it's worth - and, for the avoidance of doubt, this is intended constructively rather than with any bitterness! - given this thread's focus on transparency/accuracy/high journalistic standards etc., mightn't it have been worth dropping me a line before publication, to do a bit of fact-checking? I'd much rather have the opportunity to put the orchestra's side rather than let an unknown poster have a go for me in an anonymous comment, invective-laden or otherwise.

Best wishes,

John Harte
General Manager, Aurora Orchestra
Pliable said…
John, thank you for this clarification which now makes the situation clear. I appreciate your additional comments and would respond as follows.

Clemency Burton-Hill has chosen to promote herself as a media figure - she is not a reclusive artist who has become the subject of unwanted media attention. Therefore people are going to scrutinise what she says about herself in the media. Sadly it appears some of her use of the media, eg the Independent Dudamel article which sparked this thread, has been disingenuous. Inevitably this disingenuity has prompted closer scrutiny of her media presence. Remember that my post relayed an observation by a third party on the Radio 3 Forum, it was not me that highlighted the contradictory statements.

I understand your point that “the biography on the Aurora website seems to me to give about the right level of detail”. But the result is a disconnect. Ms Burton-Hill believes it is relevant to promote herself as a co-founder of the orchestra, whereas Aurora does not. People close to the orchestra may understand this, whereas people at a distance – like me - may not.

On the subject of checking with you before running the story, yes, in an ideal world I should have done so and I believe that in your case I would have received a prompt and honest response. But that would have been the exception, because most of those requests for information or clarification, with a few notable exceptions, are simply ignored – not even acknowledged. This is presumably because I am one of the few voices in classical music that actually speaks freely rather than toeing the establishment line.

It is interesting how members of the classical music establishment have immediately weighed in to clarify the definition of an orchestra co-founder - one with considerable belligerence. But not a single one has weighed in on whether an “independent” music journalist and media presenter should also have links with a leading artist agency. Just as they have not weighed in on the subject of sponsorship from ethically compromised companies, on orchestra tours to China, etc etc.

As I have asked before, is classical music excited about the right things?

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