This short tour will focus on two issues that we feel need highlighting in a positive way: European unity in the face of Brexit, and the erosion of music tuition in schools.
Our performances will not aim to be provocative or to protest particular decisions, but to act as a demonstration of support and goodwill, through the act of making music.
This single-day tour will see the whole orchestra, joined by singers, embark on a long day giving up to seven performances to around 3000 people.
The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union has been the dominating news story in Britain for almost three years. We recognise that this outcome was made by virtue of a democratic vote, however, we, along with many others in the culture sector are worried about the impact Brexit will have on the arts, and on our communities. We feel this argument has not been made loudly or strongly enough.
As an organisation, we want to show solidarity with our European neighbours, and European citizens making their lives in this country, through a day of performances in public spaces in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Like many orchestras, a significant proportion of Nevis Ensemble musicians are from outside of Scotland - particularly from other European nations. Our musicians have come to the UK to study, live and work, and we believe that their contribution to the ensemble and to society as a whole can only be positive and enriching.
On or around 'Brexit day' (the actual day of which is, of course, still uncertain), the whole orchestra will embark on a day of performances in public spaces of music to include the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (the main theme of which is the European Anthem). We will be joined by a choir, and soloists, making these performances truly epic events, reaching the widest audiences in both cities.
At the same time, an important issue on a more local level is the declining availability and access to instrumental tuition in Scottish schools. Scotland has an enviable record of providing access to musical tuition for young people who would not otherwise be able to afford or access it, but due to ongoing budget cuts in our local authorities, an increasing number of councils are significantly decreasing provision.
This has either been through introducing charges (the highest of which is set to be £699 per year), decreasing availability/choice of instruments, or redeploying instrumental teaching staff, in a rapid but long-lasting erosion of music services for children and young people throughout the country. MSPs have called for tuition to be free, but local authority education budgets continue to be squeezed.
In the last week, cases have been highlighted in Midlothian and Moray, and whilst the cases are different, both will have a profound affect on a whole generation of Scottish children. We recognise that local authorities are facing really tough choices, but at the same time we feel this is an issue that cannot be ignored. The benefits of learning a musical instrument are extensive and well documented, and go well beyond participation in musical activities.
As part of the day, we shall visit a couple of local authority areas where there is ongoing threat to music tuition in schools, as a demonstration of support. We will invite talented local young singers to perform with Nevis Ensemble and keep the issue of tuition decline in the minds of local people.
This short tour is an 'extra' to our planned activities, and we therefore need your support to make it happen. Please do consider helping us highlight two important issues whilst taking music as many people as we can.