The EU Referendum

As the voting day draws nearer for the decision on whether Britain should remain in or leave the European Union, I've been thinking about the impact that the outcome could have on musicians.

While I was studying at the Royal Academy of Music, a large proportion of my friends were students who had moved to London from around the world - mainly from elsewhere in Europe. Coming from inside the EU meant that these students had the freedom to move to (and work in) the UK and to pay the same course fees as British students, with access to the same student loans. 

This would not be the case if we left the EU. The Guildhall School of Music and Drama recently released photos of its principal symphony orchestra first with, and then without, the students who hail from EU countries. Here was the result: 

42 out of the orchestra's 109 performers (38%) come from countries in the European Union. Professor Barry Ife, Principal of the Guildhall School, says "The Guildhall School has over 200 students from the EU and we benefit greatly from their talent and enthusiasm. Brexit would deprive them of access to the student loans scheme and their ability to study here would be put at risk. We need talented young international students to keep our world-leading provision fresh and vibrant. And we need to stay connected in an interconnected world." 

This is exactly the same story for music conservatoires all over the UK. Even after music college, the impact on the profession would be huge. I am a member of the Southbank Sinfonia - an orchestra which, this year, is made up of 33 graduate musicians from a staggering 18 different nationalities! The diversity of culture and experiences that this brings to the group is invaluable and we can all learn so much from each other.

Finally the prospect of leaving the EU seems to be a bleak one in terms of applying for jobs abroad and travelling around Europe. Many music students and graduates gain a great deal from studying and working abroad. Personally, the chance to participate in masterclasses, competitions and courses around France, Italy and Germany has provided me with exciting performance platforms and the opportunity to meet other like-minded people and develop as a musician. Touring is a major part of life for most musicians, particularly for those in orchestras , chamber groups or as soloists. Until now, we have been able to enjoy the freedom of visa-free travel around the EU, but how much more complicated - and expensive - will this be if we leave?

I'm not normally one to talk much about politics -often I'm too embarrassed at my lack of knowledge or understanding. However it seems blindingly obvious to me that leaving the EU would have a hugely detrimental effect on society. We are so lucky to benefit from the countless students, teachers and performers from the EU who live and work in the UK and it would be a tragedy if it became too difficult for them to visit or to stay.