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The plight of good musicians

I was shocked to hear through a friend of mine when I was in Amsterdam about the way in which the orchestras are being ruthlessly tampered with. The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Netherlands Philharmonic are being merged, meaning that musicians are losing their jobs and therefore their livelihood. From all accounts, morale is sliding in a downward direction and it becomes more difficult to keep the inspiration alive, the inspiration that is so needed for live music making.

A symphony orchestra in concert

It is so sad when good musicians lose their orchestral jobs. These jobs are so hard fought for. Musicians train for years, become superb not only at playing their instruments, but in sight-reading, ensemble playing, learning fast. They are highly skilled people. And when a job dries up – because the government, in the case of the Netherlands, decides that culture is not worth spending money on – those talented, committed, highly skilled people have to start all over again, looking for work, fighting their corner in the free lance arena with all the other newly unemployed musicians.

It is one thing to lose work when you are young, single without any real commitments, but when you have a house, a mortgage, kids and big bills to pay, it’s tough. Musicians find themselves applying for jobs in different countries in order to find some stability for their families, and of course that means they have to uproot everything and start again. They hope it will all work out. And they are the lucky ones. Not everyone can get the jobs in a different country so they have to stay put with less money to pay the bills.

All this anxiety can’t be good for music making which needs freedom, inspiration and joy, not pressure, anxiety and a struggle for survival. It would be so wonderful if music making were not so bound by these restrictions and could fly free.


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