Musicians of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia and the Musicians’ Union continue to call for increased funding as the orchestra’s upcoming performances and income are wiped out by the recent decision


Photo: Fleck Fletcher | Musicians’ Union

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Northern Ballet has confirmed it will continue its forthcoming tours with recorded music, replacing the musicians of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

The orchestra, as well as the Musicians’ Union (MU) and other supporting ensembles, have been campaigning over the last several months to protect the players’ touring work, which have been jeopardised due to the cost of living crisis and funding cuts at Northern Ballet.

Violinist and leader of the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, Geoffrey Allan, described the situation as ‘bleak news,’ as the musicians of the orchestra are now faced with loss of work and income. The MU has rejected the announcement from Northern Ballet and is continuing to campaign to ensure live music is integral to quality ballet experiences going forward.

’Northern Ballet’s orchestra has brought huge pleasure and the most wonderful ballet experience to tens of thousands of people across the UK,’ said Morris Stemp, MU orchestras official. ’Axing the orchestra for recorded music is unacceptable. Audiences deserve the full Northern Ballet experience every time.’

’We and the Musicians’ Union will continue to campaign because we refuse to give up,’ Allan told The Strad. Illustrating the contribution the orchestra made to live ballet performances, he added, ’The Northern Ballet Sinfonia is a very special orchestra in the quality it achieves with small numbers. That has been developed over many years through very high levels of professionalism and dedication, and would be very hard to recreate if the orchestra disbanded.

’Many people may not realise the incredible levels of skill, both individual and as an ensemble, which go into making a typical Northern Ballet performance where 26 players create a sound astoundingly close to that of a full symphony orchestra.’

Despite the loss of live musicians from upcoming ballet productions, Allen is urging the public to continue supporting the orchestra in a number of ways in a push for funding increases. ’I wouldn’t want our supporters to stay away,’ he said. ’Northern Ballet is a fantastic company, with fabulous dancers (who are 100 per cent behind us in our campaign) and they and the company really need to perform and bring in revenue.

’It is not their wish to perform without orchestra, and we all have to fight together to reinstate live music. Only increased funding will achieve this. So by all means come and see the shows, but please also write passionately to our management, to your MP, to newspapers, and let them know that live music is immensely important not just for us at Northern Ballet, but for the cultural life of our country.’ 

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