Professional brass players play ‘Ode to Joy’ outside UK parliament to protest Brexit

11 October 2019, 16:20 | Updated: 12 October 2019, 15:27

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Over 50 musicians congregated in Westminster’s Parliament Square this week in a musical protest against Brexit.

Over 50 professional UK brass players met in Westminster yesterday (10 October) to protest against Brexit.

The ‘Brass Against Brexit’ ensemble, led by English National Opera’s principal conductor Martyn Brabbins, played an adapted version of Beethoven’s anthem to freedom, ‘Ode to Joy’ – also known as the EU anthem.

British trumpet virtuoso Alison Balsom, who was among the musicians playing, has said:

“One of our most precious assets which makes our country relevant on the International stage is our legacy in arts and culture.

“Almost nothing has been said about how we will manage the loss of tens of thousands of top ambassadors – musicians – being able to travel freely across Europe and create harmony with people from other societies and of all nationalities.”

Read more: British musicians travelling to the EU face £1,000 bill and more red tape with a no-deal Brexit >

Balsom continued: “I’ve always been so proud to be British – especially when in other countries in Europe.

“I want to show the rest of Europe that me and my fellow musicians here today do not support this situation – and you’d be hard pressed to find a musician who does.”

‘Ode to Joy’, the choral section from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, has become contentious over the last few months.

In July, Brexit Party MEPs turned their backs on Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ during the EU Parliament’s opening ceremony, in a protest against the European Union.

Just a week later, The Guardian reported that a self-proclaimed Brexiteer apparently called for a boycott of the Midlands’ Three Choirs Festival after it programmed ‘Ode to Joy’ as a finale.

Read more: Brexit Party MEPs turn their backs on Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ in protest against EU >

Similar music protests have been seen on the remain side of the Brexit debate, including earlier this month when 60 young people from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Folk Ensemble travelled to the European Parliament to protest against the UK leaving the EU.