Prince 'meddled to aid orchestra'

THE PRINCE of Wales tried to influence the board of the South Bank Centre in London to ensure that his favourite orchestra shared the residency at the Royal Festival Hall, according to a book to be published this week.

The allegation may help to explain why the residency has ended up as something of a hotchpotch. The resident orchestra, the London Philharmonic, has few real privileges over the one that failed to win, the Philharmonia, whose patron is Prince Charles.

The LPO residency, which has been publicly applauded by David Mellor, Secretary of State for National Heritage, who was on the orchestra's board until recently, starts officially later this month.

The idea was that London should have an orchestra identified closely with the city, as the Berlin Philharmonic is with Berlin. The LPO was chosen by a committee headed by the former general director of the Royal Opera House, Sir John Tooley, although the then chairman of the South Bank Centre, Ronald Grierson, wanted a dual residency involving the Philharmonia.

The resident orchestra was to have first choice of concert dates and rehearsal times. While the LPO does have first choice, it has ended up with only a handful more dates than the Philharmonia and so few special privileges that the South Bank has to stress that LPO players will have their own lockers.

In the book Music In London, Norman Lebrecht, a specialist on classical music, writes: 'As patron of the Philharmonia and English Chamber Orchestra, he (Prince Charles) does not hesitate to interfere when their interests are threatened. When the Philharmonia failed to win residency at the South Bank concert halls, Charles summoned the officials responsible in an attempt to secure a deal that would give his orchestra a larger slice of the cake. Given that the decision was the result of a proper democratic procedure, his action was irresponsible.

'This kind of dilettantish meddling has encouraged every orchestra in London to get itself a royal protector, in the hope of impressing government ministers and business sponsors.'

However, a different gloss was put on the meeting yesterday by the chairman of the Philharmonia Trust, Daniel Salem, who is also chairman of Conde Nast magazines. He was present at the meeting - a lunch with Prince Charles at Sandringham two years ago - as were Mr Grierson and the two current general directors of the South Bank Centre, Nicholas Snowman and Richard Pulford. The meeting was urged by Mr Salem when he learned that the South Bank was planning to award the residency to the LPO.

According to Mr Salem, Prince Charles felt after the meeting that no announcement about the residency would be made while the two orchestras met to reach some agreement. But the South Bank announced it the next day.

Mr Salem said yesterday: 'The Prince of Wales was not very pleased. It was against all expectations that the LPO be awarded sole residency. We had been led to believe that there would be a dual residency.'

David Whelton, managing director of the Philharmonia, said: 'We haven't lost out because of the residency in any way. We have pretty well as many concerts as the LPO and all our first choice of dates. Also, conditions for the orchestra have improved. But this has nothing at all to do with the Prince Charles meeting.'

Mr Lebrecht said yesterday: 'It may be that the sort of pressure the Prince was applying may have helped swing things back to the Philharmonia, giving them certain benefits. It is without precedent in the musical world for a member of the Royal Family to roll his sleeves up and get involved in a domestic row of this kind.'

Judy Grahame, spokeswoman for the London Philharmonic, said: 'I believe there was a last-ditch attempt by the Prince of Wales. But I don't believe it had any effect.'

A South Bank Centre spokeswoman would only say: 'The selection of the resident orchestra was based on merit.'

The book is also critical of politicians who have dabbled in patronage. It says: 'Edward Heath took the title of president of the London Symphony Orchestra without doing anything noticeable to justify his name on the notepaper. He liked to be asked to conduct . . . Margaret Thatcher reserved her praise for foreign musical institutions that took no money from her privy purse . . . John Major, married to the biographer of Joan Sutherland, regards free tickets to Covent Garden as one of the perks of office.'

'Music in London' by Norman Lebrecht is published by Aurum Press at pounds 9.95.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

LSA (afterschool club) vacancy in Newport

£40 per day + Travel Scheme : Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: Our client ...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style