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Scrapped Plans for London Concert Hall Sour Mood for U.K. Musicians

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Feb 19, 2021

Deborah Annetts, the chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said on Tuesday during a parliamentary inquiry into the new rules that she had been “inundated with personal testimony from musicians as to the work that they have lost, or are going to lose, in Europe as a result of the new visa and work permit arrangements.”

A British musician who wanted to play a concert in Spain would have to pay 600 pounds, or about $840, for a work permit, she said, adding that this would make such a trip unviable for many. She called upon the government to negotiate deals with European countries so cultural workers could move around more easily.

Parrott said he expected many British classical musicians would retrain for other careers, or move outside Britain for work, if the rules were not changed.

High profile departures like Rattle’s have only contributed to the impression of a sector in decline. On Jan. 22, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, a young Lithuanian conductor seen as a rising star, announced she would leave her post as music director of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2021-22 season. “This is a deeply personal decision, reflecting my desire to step away from the organizational and administrative responsibilities of being a music director,” she said in a statement at the time.

Manuel Brug, a music critic for Die Welt, the German newspaper, said in a telephone interview that, viewed from the continent, classical music in Britain seemed in a bad way, “with all this horrible news.”

The new London concert hall “was always a dream, but at least it was a dream,” he said.

Given recent developments, many British musicians and singers may have to consider moving to Europe if they wanted to succeed, he said.

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