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On a day of fake orchestras, time for a change at the top

We may have been a tad harsh on the BBC presenter interns yesterday who could not tell one orchestra from another, London Philharmonic from Royal Philharmonic, Royal College from Royal Academy.

On close inspection, neither could we. The London Philharmonic Orchestra that we saw below decks on a barge and intermittently heard bore scarce resemblance to the LPO that we know from the Royal Festival Hall.

The reason for that is that the LPO was playing yesterday in the pit at Glyndebourne for Cunning Little Vixen (as we forewarned some months ago). What we saw on the river was, just like the BBC, a bunch of deps dressed up as class presenters.

Without excusing the BBC’s parade of prattlers, what the LPO performed yesterday was, by any reasonable definition, an act of deception. An orchestra cannot play in two places at once. Either Glyndebourne was being ripped off with a fake LPO, or deceit was practised on HM the Queen and the entire nation.

This is bad practice by London orchestras. I thought it had stopped years ago when, Ian Maclay, manager of the RPO, declared ‘I decide who is the RPO’ or words to that effect before sending two different bands to play one night under the same name.

The RPO has never recovered from that stigma and its sister-bands were quick to sneer. To see the LPO go down that same shabby lane is a shame and a disgrace. This is an orchestra that is losing direction and moral compass. It may be time to drop the skipper.

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  1. Oops, perhaps poor old “Katie”‘s depping days are numbered now … I assume she was your source for this story.

    I don’t see much wrong with it to be honest. A big orchestra’s name is its brand – I think it’s quite possible to see two different RPOs/LPOs so long as they are both up to the brand. As “Katie” said, they have access to more than one orchestras’-worth of players, especially when the gigs in question don’t require a band of Wagnerian proportions.

    However, we once had a composition workshop at a certain well-known university with “the London Sinfonietta” – I admit to being a tad disappointed when precisely _two_ of their members turned up to do the honours! I think that’s the minimum for this kind of shenanigans else it’d simply be “X, who plays in the London Sinfonietta”…

  2. William Norris says:

    I saw lots of familiar LPO faces playing on the boat. With two modest orchestras it’s perfectly possible that both would be pretty much ‘proper’ LPO.

  3. Re the RPO thing, I always think it’s suspicious that they don’t list their players on their website…

  4. Michael Pearson says:

    A bit of a non-story really. I saw friends, full members of the LPO playing on the boat. The whole orchestra is not involved in playing The Cunning Little Vixen. The LPO like all London orchestras also has a large pool of extras to call upon when necessary, musicians that have usually auditioned for and played with the orchestra in question many times. This is a well known practice and I see very little wrong with it if artistic standards are maintained which they usually are.

  5. DrSeuss says:

    Non-story. Happens in the US as well especially during summer, optional weels, etc when many non-regulars are hired. This is how the field works.

  6. This is the second time you have criticised the BBC presenters for being ‘rookies’ or ‘interns’. You can say they were crap (they were), that they spouted inane nonsense (they did), ran out of things to say after 5 minutes (definitely) and overdid the hyperbole (‘incredible’ ‘iconic’ ‘amazing’ etc). But don’t excuse this with the totally inaccurate accusation that they were rookies.
    Off the top of my head…
    Huw Edwards has been a major BBC anchor for a long time (and became a correspondent in the mid 80s).
    Sophie Raworth has been with the BBC for 20 years.
    Matt Baker first started (on Blue Peter) in 1999 and presents 2 flagship shows – the One Show and Countryfile.
    Clare Balding (in my opinion, one of the few that emerged with respect intact) has been with BBC since mid-90s.
    Sian Williams presented BBC Breakfast for a decade and also main news anchor.
    John Sargeant has been a journalist for 40 years.
    Anneka Rice (yes, yes, I know) has been on TV screens for 30 years.
    Paul Dickenson has been commentating on BBC for 25 years.

    Rookies? interns?

  7. Violaworld says:

    EXAMPLE Leipzig Gewandhaus. This is a great orchestra that plays simultaniously symphonic concerts, opera and Bach cantatas on sunday. Whats wrong with this???

    • Albassbone says:

      There’s nothing wrong with this. The Gewandhaus employs about 175 musicians so I suppose they can do this quite legitimately.

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