fri 25/09/2020

George Osborne vs young musicians | reviews, news & interviews

George Osborne vs young musicians

George Osborne vs young musicians

Last night, I went to a concert by an orchestra which can wholeheartedly say that the steep cuts coming to the budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport won't affect it at all - because it receives no Government money, despite being one of London's most promising orchestras.

The Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra exists to let talented young flautists and cellists and the rest get a bite at the biggest cherries - the key orchestral repertoire - which they wouldn't normally be able to access in their quartets and chamber groups. There are also masterclasses for the musicians and the benefit of working with your peers.

Last night's programme, at St John's Smith Square, a church with a notable musical history, opened with the crowd-pleasing William Tell Overture and then the rather more obscure but much subtler Six Spanish Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, by Adrian Beecham (Thomas's son). The orchestra gave shimmering support. The second act was Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, and the orchestra - some of whom looked as young as 15 - tore their way through the march and grieved at the finale.

The YMSO depends entirely on private philanthropy, and is thus both a good model for our Osborne'd state and a victim for having been refused a seat at table during the years of largesse. As well as bucket-wielding as the audience exits - and an injunction that the "gossamer sound" of notes dropping in is more euphonious than the clatter of coins - there is always a fundraising dinner afterwards, where London's cultural, social and diplomatic tribes mix. This is how other orchestras, and theatres, and galleries, and museums, will have to operate.

People are naturally thinking about schools and hospitals and the army in a time of cuts, but our cultural life - which contributes (financially) much more than it consumes - will be affected too. Now there is less than no chance of the YMSO's good work receiving state support.

Orchestras like the YMSO will lead the way - both in the concert hall and in the boardroom - as the arts world starts to sound distinctly out of key.
  • The YMSO's next concert, featuring Elgar, Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff, is on 29 September at St John's Smith Square

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