Music is the universal language binding us together. I have twice seen opera and once ballet in recent years in Munich’s fine Opera House. It is a profoundly moving experience. Munich is a quintessentially European city and the European flag flies everywhere alongside the German. Bayreuth is just down the road and whilst Opera there is eccentric it is a key part of the Bavarian commitment to The Arts. As is the superb Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Contrast all this with London. We have extraordinary orchestras and opera and ballet companies, for now. But our new insular and bureaucratic rules about foreign residency and the abolition of Freedom of Movement are already inhibiting our ability to build on this success. It’s not just the superstars that a musical city needs. Our musical world includes schools and conservatories, small venues as well as large. In the past these were open to the world – in future much less so.
Munich does not have a major large scale concert hall, but you can be sure that if Rattle wants one he will get one. The Germans will have learned from the delays in the construction of their venue in Hamburg. Compare this with London where the LSO plays in a good but limited hall hidden away in the chilling, ugly area that is the Barbican. The South Bank has the Festival Hall which despite its recent upgrade is a seventy year old monument to the past with acoustics to match.
London should have approached the Head of State and asked to build a world class concert venue in one of the Royal Parks. Cut out the inevitable delays of financing and planning – just get on with it. Call it the Royal Philip Hall if you like – there’s a precedent !
Simon Rattle will not be the first leader of the Arts to turn his back on Little England. Once the philistine politicians in power get their hands on the BBC The Proms will go as well. The more you close your doors the more people will walk away and seek a more welcoming world. What a dull, grey, insular world awaits us.