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Les Mis and Miss Saigon Composer Claude-Michel Schönberg Backs Northern Ballet Sinfonia Campaign to Keep Northern Ballet Music Live

Legendary composer Claude-Michel Schönberg calls for an Arts Council England solution to protect Northern Ballet musicians.

Published: 25 October 2023 | 10:00 AM
Darkly lit orchestra pit with musicians and music sheets.
Claude-Michel Schönberg has written a letter in support of Northern Ballet Sinfonia and efforts to keep Northern Ballet music live. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Claude-Michel Schönberg, best known as the book co-writer and the composer of Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and Martin Guerre, has written a letter in support of Northern Ballet Sinfonia and efforts to keep Northern Ballet music live.

Schönberg worked with the company in 2001 and 2011, composing ballet scores for Wuthering Heights and Cleopatra.

His letter is reproduced in full with permission.

Claude-Michel Schönberg’s letter

I have had the pleasure of working with Northern Ballet Sinfonia on two of my compositions and have been impressed by the dedication of the musicians during many live performances throughout the UK.

Northern Ballet is one of the few companies touring with a full orchestra around the UK bringing high quality dance and music to thousands of people annually. The live music brings legitimacy and emotion whereas pre-recorded music loses spontaneity which in turn lessens the emotion and therefore the experience.

It is a great shame that the audience members and particularly the younger generation will no longer have access to the highest quality live music outside of London.

As I understand the Northern Ballet management will endeavour to make choices as to which cities will have live or recorded music.

It will be a travesty to consider the Sinfonia as a separate part a Northern Ballet production, like a set piece no longer required. The Conductor is breathing with the dancers to achieve the most unique performance possible. Cutting such an integral part of Northern Ballet in such a brutal way is not an improvement but a step back.

Live theatre and music are an integral part of the British culture and I hope that the Arts Council and Musicians' Union will fight together to continue to enhance people's lives and mental wellbeing by finding a solution with the management at Northern Ballet.


Claude-Michel Schönberg

Keep Northern Ballet music live

Musicians in the Northern Ballet Sinfonia are campaigning to protect their touring work.

It comes after Northern Ballet announced that they were being forced to consider getting rid of their live orchestra for some touring productions and replacing the musicians with recorded music due to a real terms funding cut.

Close to 8,000 people have signed a petition calling on Arts Council England and Northern Ballet to get round the table and agree a realistic funding solution.

Members have been out campaigning and winning support from the public. Here are some of the big moments so far:

Add your voice to the call, sign the petition and leave a message of support.

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