Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ulster Orchestra Petition

The Ulster Orchestra was formed in 1966 and is the only full time Professional Symphony Orchestra in Northern Ireland. 

Since March 2011 the Orchestra's Arts Council and BBC grants have been cut by 28 percent and the forecast for March 2015 will show a deficit of £400k that together with the in-year cut of 4 percent from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland will wipe out their reserves. Hence, by December there will be no option but to declare that the Orchestra is no longer viable and to announce its closure. 

For the last 48 years, and through the very worst of the " Troubles", the Orchestra has provided music of the very highest quality to the whole of the community, often playing under very difficult circumstances. Despite bomb scares, violence and civilian unrest, they never cancelled a concert and travelled all over the province to bring live music to rural communities who would not have had the opportunity to hear it otherwise. They are quite simply the lynch-pin of music in Northern Ireland. 

As well as regular classical concerts, their work in music education is well known with smaller groups and indeed the whole orchestra visiting schools, often in deprived areas, to give children the chance to see how music is made. The list of their engagements is too long to mention here, but their involvement in every aspect of the cultural life in Northern Ireland is well documented, including Derry/Londonderry City of Culture, Proms in the Park, Northern Ireland Opera, Lucianno Pavarotti at Stormont, the Belfast Festival at Queens, the Messiah and BBC Recordings, not to mention their own season of concerts throughout the year. What a shame if the people of Northern Ireland could no longer enjoy any of these events!

Pianist, composer and conductor Barry Douglas

Mr Douglas said: "I am saddened and concerned that the Ulster Orchestra, which makes such an important contribution to the cultural life of Northern Ireland and beyond, and with which I have played on many occasions, should currently be facing such difficulties.

"I wish the Ulster Orchestra well at this time and trust that its current challenges might soon be positively resolved."