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Relief for orchestra over funding

    Mehta - 50 years with the baton
    Mehta - 50 years with the baton

    The secretary-general of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Avi Shoshani, confirmed this week that the Israeli government had deferred its controversial plan to suspend the element of merit when awarding state funding to cultural institutions.

    In mid-December, the Culture and Sports Ministry announced that future grants to Israeli orchestras, no matter how big or small, or how public their profile, would be awarded on the same flat-rate basis.

    This meant that a tiny chamber ensemble would be eligible for the same financial awards as the IPO, without taking into account the national orchestra's international profile, tours or guest conductors and performers.

    Mr Shoshani was among a number of music administrators who wrote to the government to complain. He said: "I am surprised and shocked by the manner in which such an important and influential decision has been made… giving the identical performance level grade to all the musical bodies means a further reduction in the ongoing support which we receive."

    But this week Mr Shoshani told the JC: "Obviously the IPO would be the first to lose from this arrangement. But I'm pleased to say we've succeeded in getting this plan deferred. It will not happen."

    Mr Shoshani was speaking at the end of a successful gala fortnight of concerts given by the Israel Philharmonic to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

    Its music director, Zubin Mehta, celebrating his own 75th birthday and 50 years working with the orchestra, remains the only world classical conductor to have been named music director for life.

    No one is ready to talk about a successor for the energetic Maestro Mehta, but the IPO has just appointed the Italian Gianandrea Noseda, normally based in Turin, as its principal guest conductor. Mr Noseda's evident enthusiasm for the 114-strong IPO - and his fluency in Russian, among other attributes - may well hint at his future with the orchestra.

    Meanwhile, Mr Shoshani praised Roger Wright, director of the BBC Proms, who presided over the IPO's disrupted concert in September when pro-Palestinian activists interrupted its Royal Albert Hall performance. Mr Wright was "a good friend" of the IPO, said Mr Shoshani, adding that although he was not against demonstrations per se, this one had had the opposite effect to that intended.

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