Rhinegold Photo credit: Peter Adamik

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Save EUYO campaign attracts extensive support

11:19, 27th May 2016

Leading musical and cultural individuals and organisations have spoken up as part of the campaign willing the European Union to find appropriate funding for the European Union Youth Orchestra, which will be forced to cease operations in September 2016 unless alternative funding can be found.

In addition, at least 16 flashmobs took place across Europe on 20 May in order to draw attention to the situation.

‘The youth orchestra has been a symbol of cultural diversity in Europe for 40 years. To take away funds from the orchestra right now is the wrong signal at the wrong time,’ said Monika Grütters, minister of state in the Federal Chancellery and federal government commissioner for culture and the media. ‘If this European Union Youth Orchestra did not already exist, you’d have to start one now.’

Vasily Petrenko, chief conductor of the EUYO said that the loss of the EU would be ‘a catastrophic loss to the musical community across Europe […] if the European Union stops investing in its young people and its culture it will undermine its own credibility and future’.

EUYO conductor laureate Bernard Haitink added: ‘For 40 years the European Union Youth Orchestra has been the very definition of excellence and commitment, consistently proving the value of bringing together young people from diverse European cultures. At a moment of such challenge for Europe, it is simply unthinkable that this beacon could be destroyed by lack of support and nurturing from the EU. Simply unthinkable.’

‘My experiences both playing in and listening to the EUYO were transformative: there is no way one can be involved in the orchestra without developing a deep love not only for the music and culture of Europe but for its people as well […] Cutting its funding would cause irreparable damage to the EU and European culture in general,’ wrote Alec Frank-Gemmill, principal horn with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Conductors and artists including Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Gustavo Dudamel and Esa-Pekka Salonen put their names to a statement describing the EUYO as ‘one of the great cultural ambassadors of the European Union’ and ‘a consistent beacon of excellence for the EU’s highest values and ideals’, calling upon President Juncker, President Schulz and Commissioner Navracsics to make available EU core funding.

The EU’s ministers of culture and education will receive information from the Italian delegation on ‘Supporting the European Union Youth Orchestra’ as part of a meeting in Brussels on 30 and 31 May.

‘During the last two weeks the worlds of music and education have spoken with one global voice about the critical importance of the EU and its 28 countries finding a funding solution to allow the European Union Youth Orchestra to continue […] everyone will be watching to see what the meeting decides,’ said Sir Simon Rattle.

Sir Simon also put his name to a statement issued by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which argued that the loss of the EUYO would be ‘…a cultural and political disaster second to none and a terrible indictment against a background of increasing nationalistic and anti-EU tendencies.’


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