English Touring Opera drops many long-term freelance musicians in push for diversity

Posted on: September 14, 2021

“English Touring Opera has dropped half of its orchestral players in a push for diversity,” writes Rosie Pentreath in Monday’s (9/13) Classic FM (U.K.). “At least 14 musicians have been told they will not be booked for the 2022 ETO tour, many of them long-running members of the orchestra. The ETO has attributed the changes to prioritizing ‘increased diversity in the orchestra,’ something that’s in line with ‘firm guidance of the Arts Council.’ … The Musicians Union … in a statement … outlines that, ‘while the MU lauds efforts to increase diversity in the workplace, the Union is adamant this should be achieved fairly and legitimately, not by “sacking” half an orchestra.’ … The Arts Council, which provides funding to the ETO, has responded by saying that they did not advise the opera company to fire musicians as part of their work to increase diversity in classical music…. ‘We are now in conversation with ETO to ensure no funding criteria have been breached.’ The ETO announced hiring 12 new artists in the freelance orchestra for the spring 2022 tour … [saying] ‘… there may be musicians with whom you may be more familiar … who will not be with us on this particular tour.’ ”