June 18, 2024

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Orchestras ‘vital’ part of UK cultural heritage, survey reports | News

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Nearly 75% of people believe UK orchestras are a vital part of the country’s heritage, according to new a new report.

Conducted by The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) as part of a three-year campaign, a survey of 2,000 adults has shown that 65% of respondents think classical music is under-appreciated by society.

The campaign, launched today (21 May) by ABO and its 200 member organisations, alongside Classic FM, Classical Music Magazine, LIVE, UK Music, the Musicians’ Union and the Independent Society of Musicians, celebrates the power and value of classical music and the UK’s orchestras.


The survey revealed that 71% believe classical music “amplifies” important life events, with four in five agreeing that music has reminded them of important moments and memories. 

“We need to value orchestras, musicians and composers more,” said Tom Kiehl, Interim Chief Executive of UK Music, one of the campaign’s partners. “Without them, it would not be possible to create memories through harnessing the sheer power of music.”

In recent months, musicians in the orchestras at the English National Opera, Welsh National Opera and Northern Ballet have had their contracts cut as the companies look to make savings to manage reduced funding from Arts Council England. Meanwhile, Mid Wales Opera Company has said it faces closure after losing funding from Arts Council Wales.

Elsewhere, regional companies, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Bournemouth Orchestra, have had to absorb budget cuts due to reduced local authority funding for the arts.

Last month, Sir Antonio Pappano, Chief Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, said funding cuts are destroying Britain’s “top-notch” classical music organisations.

Despite concerns about the future of UK classical music, ABO’s survey indicated that younger listeners are more engaged in classical music than their older peers.

Nearly three-quarters of 18-34-year-olds said they wanted to be completely immersed when listening to music, compared with 59% of 35-54-year-olds and 43% of 55+-year-olds. Meanwhile, 81% of millennials agreed that music is an important part of their well-being, compared to 71% of listers across all age groups.

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of campaign partner Independent Society of Musicians, commented: “Classical music is a cornerstone of our country’s cultural offer. Musicians are the very essence of our orchestras and the heartbeat of this cherished art form.

“It is wonderful to see how much the British public appreciates their talent and dedication.”


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