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Brexit Testimonies: “I Desperately Need Some Resolution to This Problem”

Together with the ISM, we have compiled testimonies from a number of musicians, detailing the immediate impact of Brexit – here is one such account from the violinist Catherine Manson.

Published: 15 April 2021 | 4:35 PM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:32 PM
Black and white photo of a row of large your busses at a stand still.
“Essentially, I am professionally paralysed by Brexit and have no idea how I can continue my career. I desperately need some resolution to this problem” - Catherine Manson

Catherine is a violinist specialising in period music as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. She founded the London Hayden Quartet in 2000, where she is first violinist, and has been the leader of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra since 2006.

“As a violinist, I have worked for several decades touring, giving concerts, recording, broadcasting and teaching masterclasses all around the EU.

“I have been the leader of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra since 2006 but earlier this week the orchestra management told me that I will not be able to participate in the orchestra’s next tour in March/April (assuming concerts can happen and that travel is possible by then). The reason for this is that they will now need to apply for a work permit on my behalf.

“If they were to apply now, in good time, the application would be refused as a result of the travel restrictions currently in place, but if they wait, hoping that the restrictions are lifted, it will be too late to apply for a work permit. My place will instead be taken by another violinist who lives in the Netherlands and I will have lost all my income for this season.

“Typically, this orchestra brings musicians from all around Europe, meeting approximately eight times per year to rehearse a programme in the Netherlands and then setting off to tour around Europe, giving up to ten concerts per project in different countries.

“For me to procure a work permit for each one of these events would place an enormous and unreasonable burden on the orchestra management. If each of these applications involved leaving my passport at each different embassy, I would also be unable to travel for any other concerts.

“Normally I would also give another twenty concerts annually around Europe with my quartet, the London Haydn Quartet but as a result of Brexit, EU concert promoters are justifiably nervous about the expense and time involved in bringing a UK group, and so we have no further concerts booked in Europe. And this is not to even mention the carnets I would also need in order to travel with my violin.

“Essentially, I am professionally paralysed by Brexit and have no idea how I can continue my career. I desperately need some resolution to this problem.”

We’ll be continuing to publish testimonies over the coming weeks to promote our campaign for musicians working in the EU, as well as publishing updates on our lobbying work, related articles and advice resources. You can read and download the full report from the ISM’s website.

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