On the scale of troubles that have plagued the six counties in my lifetime (and appear to be flaring up again), this is very small beer.
But culturally it is immense. We hear overnight that the Ulster Orchestra is being sharply downsized – pretty much to chamber scale.
So far, according to the musicians, the trombones are to be sacked, half the horns; all ‘no.3s’ in the woodwind, and many in the strings.
UPDATE: Officials in the orchestra say this information is premature. They have asked us to publish the following statement:
Discussions are taking place within the Ulster Orchestra about how it is going to manage the impact of cuts in ACNI and BBC funding in the future. Consultations with the musicians and staff are underway with a view to finding a strategy which will maintain the orchestra’s service to Northern Ireland, but no decisions have been taken on size or format of the orchestra going forward.
The orchestra, which consumes one third of the province’s entire arts budget, has been running up ever-growing deficits, After the last manager departed this summer in a matter of weeks, the veteran orch boss Ed Smith (CBSO, Toronto, Gothenburg) was flown in to construct a rescue plan.
Artistically, the orch’s spirits have been renewed by conductor Jo-Ann Falletta and they had a successful Proms showing in the summer. The future, though, looks slim and bleak. It may yet join the list of worst orchs of 2012.