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Ballet Company Opts for Canned Music

By Michael Vincent on February 12, 2024

UK’s Northern Ballet has decided to replace its live orchestra with recordings in upcoming tours.

This pivot, driven by stark economic challenges, has sparked concern among ballet purists and musicians alike, threatening jobs and the cherished authenticity of the ballet experience.

Economic Strain Curtails Live Music Tradition

Established in the cultural heart of Leeds in 1969, the Northern Ballet is faceing criticism after a surprising announcement reducing the number of live orchestral performances and moving to canned music for touring in September 2023.

Citing financial pressures as the reason behind the move, the company included Northern Ballet Sinfonia and the Musicians’ Union in the decision.

“We are very conscious of the uncertainty and distress these ongoing negotiations are causing for Sinfonia members and the Company at large…” the Northern Ballet’s statement read.

“As a Company touring widely with a large number of dancers, musicians and other staff, we have been particularly exposed to inflation in all areas of operation.’

The company also shared that it is “actively fundraising and lobbying key stakeholders on this issue to ensure that future audiences in towns and cities across the UK will be able to experience large-scale ballet accompanied by live music.”

What Stands to Be Lost?

While the company stresses economic hardships and the desire to keep touring viable, this cost-saving tactic is at the expense of artistic quality and musicians’ livelihoods.

The decision may lead to job losses and a diluted audience experience.

Looking to the Future

This strategic pivot by Northern Ballet may save costs, but it also risks the very essence of ballet that patrons have cherished for decades. Echoing protests seen in places like Dallas, where musicians rallied against similar measures, watering down an art form is hardly a good look for a serious ballet company.

Michael Vincent
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