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Who is the oldest of them all?

Not the Halle, rules advertising watchdog, after complaint that Liverpool Phil was founded earlier

Published on October 19th 2011.


Who is the oldest of them all?



IT'S a battle of the bands that's been rumbling, like the sound of distant kettle drums, for over two years.

At one end of the East Lancs, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, steeped in history and boasting to be the oldest professional orchestra in the UK.

At the other end, Manchester's Halle, loudly and proudly calling itself the country's "longest-established permanent professional" orchestra.

RLPO: 'We are the oldest'RLPO: 'We are the oldest'The discord reached a high – or low, depending on your point of view - when Manchester dismissed Liverpool's claims as “bollocks” (see story from our archive below).

Now the Halle has been told to put a sock in it – after the Advertising Standards Authority stepped in.

The 153-year-old Halle had used the claim in its publicity material. However after receiving a formal complaint and a counter-claim that the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was older, the watchdog investigated.

It upheld the complaint, saying the Halle's words were misleading and has ordered that they be removed.

"The ad must not appear again in its current form,” it said.

"We told the Hallé to ensure they held adequate evidence before making comparative claims in future."

Marketing Director Andy Ryans the Halle was "disappointed".

The Halle had earlier produced documents, including extracts from its founder Sir Charles Halle's autobiography and annual accounts from 1858, to defend the claim.

Halle: 'No we are'Halle: 'No we are'It agreed that the Liverpool Philharmonic Society, which later became the RLPO, was founded in 1840, but said it was "an organisation that acted as a concert promoter, rather than being an orchestra".

However, the ASA found that that while historic documents "might not be readily available", there was not enough evidence available to substantiate the claim.

Mr Ryans said he had been a "little surprised that there was a formal complaint" and said the line had been a "very accurate and very honest claim".

But Jayne Garrity, the RLPO's head of comms, said it "does not matter who is older".

"Members were contracted for the whole of the concert season from 1851, which we believe shows the orchestra was a permanent fixture, rather than a scratch band, and from 1853, it was composed entirely of professionals," she said..

"But it's just great that the North West is home to two such eminent and long-established orchestras.”

Quite. Or, as another insider was heard to remark: “It's the little things...”

Did somebody say bollocks....?” From the archives...June 2009

A DIRECTOR of the Philharmonic Hall has accused the head of the Manchester Halle of “utter and complete twaddle” in a batons-at-dawn row over which is the oldest orchestra.

 Simon Glinn, head of events at the Hope Street venue, hit out after claims in a book were dismissed as “bollocks” by John Summers, chief executive of the Manchester orchestra.

Earlier this year, The Original Liverpool Sound (by Darren Henley and the RLPO's archivist, Vincent McKernan) – claimed to have uncovered evidence that the Liverpool orchestra was performing as a full time professional ensemble in 1853, FIVE years before the Halle which, until now, has been generally regarded as Britain's oldest working orchestra.

"We are the oldest orchestra that has continuously given concerts,” Mr Summers told the Guardian recently. “We've been doing it every year since 1858. [What] Liverpool [is saying] is bollocks," he added.

Web claimsWeb claims (click to enlarge)Choosing a rather less Anglo-Saxon vernacular in response, Mr Glinn coolly told Confidential: “What Mr Summers is saying is ill-informed twaddle.”

Now the RLPO has backed Mr Glinn's comments, with a statement that would seem to confirm Mr Summers is talking through his piccolo.

It said: “We are delighted to defend our position.

The first major hardback book about the Phil, The Original Liverpool Sound was meticulously researched using the Phil's archive, held at Liverpool Record Office.

From 1853, the Orchestra was composed entirely of professional musicians. It is clear that the RLPO predates the Halle, which did not give its first concert until 1858."

Meanwhile, those in the lower ranks of the string section are calling for a “pitch” battle in the grand circle of the Bridgewater Hall to decide.

As one dicky bird watcher in the Hope Street camp added: “Don't forget to mention the five European Cups either.”

(Click here to add text)

 

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 20th 2011.

Quite right too

AnonymousOctober 21st 2011.

Oh dear. Orchestra discussion closed by five Euro Cups comments. What a load of bobbins. It is Liverpool the city and orchestra here not Liverpool FC. Smells like another slice of insecurity at its most blatant.
A large - very large - section of Liverpool residents couldn't give a rat's ar*e about LFC - and that's not only Evertonians I would suggest. Stick to the point you "dicky bird watcher"

1 Response: Reply To This...
Tweetie PieOctober 21st 2011.

I think it was a joke...you no sense of humour anonymous

AnonymousOctober 21st 2011.

"Bobbins"? Ey up, the Halle Mancs have arrived

emmap12November 4th 2011.

"Ey up", the flat-capped Scousers are here too...

Bonnet RougeNovember 5th 2011.

The flat cap was so very much part of the uniform of the dockers until the 1980s that younger Liverpudlians referred to flat caps as 'docker caps' in the 1960s and 1970s.

If you look at film of the crowds supporting Derek Hatton outside the Town Hall in 1987 the majority were men wearing flat caps, though by that time they were uneasily combined with black leather blouson jackets and blue jeans.

Alas the traitorous adoption of the hideous American baseball cap since then has led to the collapse of organised labour in this country.

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