Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Flashmob draws attention to EUYO funding crisis

3:49, 20th May 2016

A flashmob orchestra assembled at the Southbank Centre at 12pm on 20 May to draw attention to the campaign to save the European Union Youth Orchestra.

It was announced on 12 May that the European Union is to withdraw funding from the EUYO, meaning that it will have to cease its activities.

The scratch ensemble, comprising players from the European Union Youth Orchestra, former players, players from other youth orchestras, professional orchestras, music colleges and academies, conservatoires, young students of music, singers and friends, performed Beethoven’s Ode to Joy on the Festival Terrace.

The London event was one of 16 events taking place across Europe today.

Greek violinist Dora Chatzigeorgiou has been a member of the EUYO since 2012. ‘My last tour with the EUYO was about two weeks ago,’ she said. ‘We went to Barbados for a week and played with the Barbados Youth Orchestra and with a chamber group. We got back we had this terrible news the morning after we got back.’

She said of the ensemble: ‘It brings together people from different countries, different cultures. It’s not only about music – it’s a life lesson. You get to know different people and to do something really beautiful together. You have six weeks learning and creating things together – it’s really important, and for young generations it’s an inspiration for us all. It would be a huge shame if that dies.’

Chatzigeorgiou said that her playing would be hugely different if it hadn’t been for the EUYO. ‘It’s like being in a professional orchestra. You get to work at a very high level, which gives you loads of experience. I wouldn’t be the same person, either musically or personally, if it hadn’t been for four years EUYO training.’

Sam Burstin, a violist with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted the performance. Although he never played in the EUYO, he said: ‘It is just unimaginable that an organisation like the EU which has such a rich history of arts could make what seems to be some horrendous oversight with funding which could lead to the decimation of its prized jewel. It doesn’t bear thinking about – it’s the bedrock of where so many of the professional orchestra players come from.

‘I think I speak for every professional musician in the UK when I say that we’re going to do everything we can do to draw attention to the current situation and show that the decision needs to be reversed.’


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