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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 15:52 GMT
Musicians condemn Bourne ballet
Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling
Highland Fling reworks classical ballet La Sylphide
Ballet director Matthew Bourne's decision to use recorded music rather than a live orchestra in his latest production has enraged a music union.

Highland Fling reworks classical ballet La Sylphide, using a 1986 recording of its 1836 score. Its UK tour is backed by a £200,000 Arts Council grant.

"Public money is used for this and we are all being short-changed," said the Musicians' Union's Horace Trubridge.

Sadler's Wells theatre in London will add live music to the show, however.

Hit productions

Olivier Award-winner Matthew Bourne choreographed the acclaimed all-male version of Swan Lake, a hit production of Nutcracker! and Play Without Words.

Highland Fling is an updated version of his own 1994 production, and visits Newcastle, Glasgow and Plymouth during its 12-venue tour beginning on 12 February.

It concerns me that London audiences are not expected to put up with recorded music, but it is seen as acceptable for everyone else in the country
Horace Trubridge,
Musicians' Union
"If you ask anybody to describe a ballet, they will tell you it is dance performed to live music," said Mr Trubridge, the assistant general secretary of the Musicians' Union.

"Live music is as exciting and vibrant as the onstage performance. If you want to hear pre-recorded music you will stay at home and watch ballet on television."

Mr Trubridge said the fact that live music would be employed during London dates highlighted its absence from the remainder of the tour.

Matthew Bourne
Bourne choreographed an acclaimed all-male Swan Lake
"It concerns me that London audiences are not expected to put up with recorded music, but it is seen as acceptable for everyone else in the country."

Matthew Bourne was unavailable and a spokesperson for his dance company, New Adventures, declined to comment.

Arts Council England said it was satisfied that its £200,000 grant had been well spent.

"Matthew Bourne is one of the world's leading choreographers and we were keen to support a tour that would take his work into and outside London," said its director of press and public affairs, David McNeill.

'Perfectly affordable'

"This is a contemporary treatment of a ballet and, unlike classical ballet, contemporary dance does not typically incorporate live music."

Mr Trubridge responded that the fact Highland Fling drew upon classical ballet La Sylphide raised high expectations of its soundtrack.

"Matthew Bourne is brilliant at what he does on stage, but he really needs to look harder at the music he uses to accompany it," Mr Trubridge said.

"He should have applied his unquestionable talent to arrange a score to be played by a small number of live musicians, which would have been perfectly affordable."


FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Glasgow Herald Dance: Making moves to suit everyone - 30 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Where's the ballet orchestra? - 42 hrs ago
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