|New home: the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg|
The London Philharmonic Orchestra has allegedly accepted a remarkable offer from the City of Hamburg to move to Germany after Brexit, adopting a new home base at the magnificent Elbphilharmonie. The UK orchestra is thought to be planning its migration for the year 2021, allowing time for Brexit negotiations to end and the 120-odd families involved to make relocation plans.
The deal is thought to include a substantial pay rise as well as improved working conditions that are standard amongst orchestras in Germany. The musicians can also expect to enjoy the facilities of the splendid new hall, which opened in January this year.
A Hamburg city representative declared: "Just as centres such as Frankfurt and Paris can't wait to get their hands on the business of British banks wishing to escape the effects of a hard Brexit, so we also are eager to welcome the finest arts organisations whose business operations will be made much easier if they can continue within the single market of the EU."
Asked about the expense to the city of supporting a British orchestra in addition to its own, the representative gave a shrug and a smile, saying: "This is a prosperous place with its feet on the ground and an enlightened approach to long-term thinking. We invest in the arts as a vital contributor to a proud and prosperous future for all people in our country. We value music as a symbol of humanity, unity and cultural enrichment. Musicians here are artists, and top-level, highly respected professionals besides. We like to treat them accordingly and show them how much they are valued."
The orchestra will continue to perform the concerts of its residency at Southbank Centre, but expects to find the exchange rate with the plunging pound favourable when paid in Euros.
While some members of the ensemble are said to be worried about the language, a spokesperson for the orchestra said: "Music is a universal language and will continue to unite us as it always has."
Asked what they would miss about London, some musicians remarked sarcastically: "The ruinously expensive hour-and-a-half commute to work on unreliable trains. And the cost of living was already ridiculous here even without the inflation Brexit is bringing." Others, however, praised the diversity, open-mindedness and enthusiasm of British audiences.
Although the deal reportedly divided opinion among the players at first, the clinching factor is reported to be a practice already known in Cologne, where every member of the orchestra is handed a glass of lager as they step off stage at the end of the concert. The Londoners on the Elbe are to receive a mug each of the excellent local Bergdorferbier after every performance.
The orchestra's name will be changed to reflect its new binational status. It will henceforth be known as the London Hamburger Orchestra.