Sir Simon Rattle speech at Barbican on UK classical music’s present crisis


Thank God for Sir Simon Rattle.

The London Symphony Orchestra Music Director much-needed leader in the classical music and operatic world whose speech to the audience at the BBC Singers/LSO concert last Sunday underlined the predicament UK classical music currently faces.

Rattle spoke in response to last year’s funding cuts announced by Arts Council England and the BBC’s recent classical music ‘strategy’ which sought to cut the BBC Singers and 20% of the Corporation’s musicians from English orchestras.

The full text is available here. The most powerful quotes included below.

When the two largest supporters of classical music in this country cut away at the flesh of our culture in this way, it means that the direction of travel has become deeply alarming. It’s clear we are facing a long-term fight for existence and we cannot just quietly acquiesce to the dismantling or dismembering of so many important companies. […]

… there’s a kind of dishonesty at the heart of many of the decisions. George Orwell will recognise the language: “Refresh the administration” and “reimagine the art form”. They are two bits of “newsspeak” which mean the opposite of the actual words, but you can all choose your own personal idiocies. […]

So many of the problems are rooted in a political ignorance of what this art form entails, and more worryingly, there seems to be a stubborn pride in the ignorance.