Leading Article: Orchestral manoeuvres, poorly conducted

Share
Related Topics
THOSE who wield the axe should do so swiftly and ruthlessly. Yet when the Arts Council decided last July to stop giving money to two of the four London orchestras it now subsidises, it took upon itself the easy job of telling the London Symphony Orchestra that its subsidy was safe.

The painful choice between the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic was subcontracted to a committee - whose six men wrung their hands for a while and then, with three abstentions, chose the Philharmonia. Now the council has lost its nerve, and seems set to reverse its earlier policy by restoring partial funding to the LPO and RPO.

This absurd turn of events has demoralised all three orchestras, and given the concert-going public the wrong impression that London's orchestras are second-rate. But the Council's original ambition to create a super-orchestra in the first place was mistaken.

The argument in favour was that outbidding the purse of the Berlin Philharmonic requires subsidies of tens rather than odd millions of pounds. Unfortunately, there is no precedent for forming a great orchestra with a single cheque. It is also doubtful whether any orchestra under a single conductor, however great, could outshine the breadth of talent that London now enjoys from the likes of Dohnanyi, Slatkin, Salonen, Welser-Most, Tennstedt and Ashkenazy.

London's concert attendances are falling. But that is inevitable, for listeners can now hear great performances in their own living rooms for the price of a CD. The trend has hardly harmed Sir Neville Marriner or John Eliot Gardiner, who have thrived on the income from recordings. If it is looking for economies, the Arts Council should start its search at the South Bank, which spends more money on publicising its grimy concrete landscape than the subsidies of all four orchestras combined.

The Council's instinct was right in only one sense. The disparity between the subsidies to London orchestras is due more to history and to politics than to an aesthetic decision, and an intelligent review under a senior judge might have put that right. But a wiser solution would have been to offer equal subsidies per London concert to all four orchestras, and let them compete for audiences.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker