Out of tune

The lack of a permanent home, funding and respect are the common characteristics of Greek orchestras, which are starting to resemble a bad joke. Suffering either the state’s indifference or political exploitation, they have been sounding the alarm bells for decades, but all that amounts to is an annoying buzz in the ears of successive culture ministers. The social security issue remains unsolved and musicians get paid a pittance (the monthly wage in the Orchestra of Colors is 500 euros), while they enjoy very little in terms of recordings or repertoire. Where they perform could be a question on a pop quiz. Nowhere and everywhere is the right answer, and this applies to the state orchestras of Greek Music, Athens and Thessaloniki, of Colors, of the Greek National Opera, the ERT Symphony and the elusive Athens Municipal Orchestra. The only orchestra not to face these problems is the Camerata, which is housed in the Athens Concert Hall and survives on private funds. In a landscape lacking tone and quality, where money is made as long as a performance holds popular appeal, the Orchestra of Colors had to reach the brink of death for the Culture Ministry to take action and allocate certain necessary funds. The orchestra found shelter, albeit temporary, at the Benaki Museum on Pireos Street, but this temporariness has become the rule, for other orchestras, too. But why do we complain so? What if Turkey has five functional operas and other European orchestras are establishing their own recording labels so they can retain complete control over their work. Greece only has music ensembles because they won’t go away. Their audience is limited, investment in their education half-hearted and government support ebbs and flows. But the nightclubs of Greece are booming, as music grasps for a bit of life.