The European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) is to cease operations from 1 September 2016. The orchestra, which was founded in 1976 by Italian maestro Claudio Abbado, has suffered from a lack of funding since the EU withdrew support in 2014. The organisation has since been funded by the EU's cultural programme Creative Europe, but that support has now also been withdrawn.
EUYO, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, had been due to go on a four-year-long Europe-wide tour as part of its anniversary celebrations. Only the 2016 leg of the tour will now take place, though it will be funded by sources other than the European Union.
'For 40 years the EUYO has been the musical expression of European unity, artistic collaboration and partnership. It is a tragedy that the European Community seems no longer to value such work as a key part of the European project,' said trustee and co-chair Sir John Tusa.
Since its foundation, the EUYO has supported more than 3000 young classical musicians from all 28 European Union member states. The list of alumni who have gone on to have international careers is many and varied: Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård, British cellist Paul Watkins, Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos, Dutch flautist Jaques Zoon and many more.
'It's a scandal,' British percussionist Colin Currie, who was a member of the orchestra from 1996-97, told us. 'The orchestra is such a positive, galvanising force amongst the diverse countries of the European Union. It is a world-class orchestra which should not be thrown away lightly.'
Trustee and co-chair of the orchestra Ian Stoutzker says the EU 'will have scored a spectacular own goal' if they abandon the orchestra at this stage. It is 'the only organisation in the world that recruits and brings together young people every year... in support of the ideals of the Union' said CEO Marshal Marcus. 'If the EU is not able to help fund its own youth orchestra, then the orchestra will cease to exist. A sad day for the EU.'
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