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Band News (more headlines) 08-10-2014

West End Musicians Campaign Outside War Horse Prom

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West End orchestral players and members of the Musicians' Union (MU) leafleted outside the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 3 August in advance of the BBC's War Horse Prom, to make audience members aware of the MU's ongoing campaign to 'Save the War Horse Band'.

The demo was supported digitally by a social media Thunderclap with 200 supporters and a social reach of over 90,000, calling on the National Theatre (NT) to reinstate the members of the War Horse Band who were removed from the West End production of the show in March.

The NT replaced the live band with a recording, made outside of the UK, without the MU's agreement. This decision not only threatens the livelihoods of the five individual musicians concerned but undermines the principle of live music in West End theatre.

The Prom on Sunday 3 August celebrated the live music of War Horse as part of the BBC's First World War commemoration in collaboration with the National Theatre.

Dave Lee, member of the Les Miserables band and previous Principal/Co-Principal Horn with orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Opera House Orchestra, says: "This War Horse Prom celebrates live music which is ironic given the removal of the band from the West End production in March. I know from my experience performing in the West End, and previously as an Orchestral Principal, how much people value live music. The Union's campaign to save the band has great support from musicians, and the members of the public we've met today have really engaged with it. The National Theatre should reinstate the five members of the War Horse band and stop using a tape! As well as cutting jobs, they are short changing people who go to see the show."

Naomi Pohl, London Regional Organiser, says: "We were delighted to hear direct from audience members that they expect a live band when they see a West End show. Everyone we've spoken to has been horrified to hear of the removal of the musicians from War Horse and been particularly shocked that the National Theatre would choose recorded music in place of a band. The BBC Concert Orchestra performing the music from War Horse at the Prom would surely have reinforced our message for those who attended; Keep Music Live."

The MU has a good relationship with the BBC Proms, which provides employment for a large number of musicians. The Save the War Horse Band campaign and petition are aimed solely at the West End production of the show.

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