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
His short report on the appointment of Piers Lane as Director of the Sydney Piano Competition is a little too blunt, but true. On the other hand, JD writes a rather ludicrously overblown blurb about the "respected" Sydney event, when a careful listen to the interview with Lane to which she herself provides a link, makes it clear that Lane's opinion is that the usual shenanigans have lost the competition respect and he intends to remedy that. He says this gently, but when you hear he intends to exclude from juries anyone who has prior acquaintance with competitors -- teachers, in short -- you know what he's getting at. And he has more to say. JD really needs to regain at least a little subtlty, for her post re an interview with writer Bernieres astonished me by putting at the start a longish paragraph on the wonders of Fera at Claridges. What is this now -- the Michelin?
Lastly, in the entire Sistema debate, one thing is ever-annoying: Blaming the Sistema rather than whatever use has been made of it by the Government, something still not satisfactorily clear to me, though I do not discount it. Blaming the system, as if it will result in the same in Scotland is, if I may be forgiven for knowingly extreme analogs, not much different logically from blaming hydrogen cyanide for the Holocaust or evil atoms for the atomic bomb.