Music school angry after airline lost instruments

Chetham School of Music says the nightmarish experience with Lufthansa – days before one of the biggest gigs on its annual schedule – is an increasingly common problem for musicians traveling abroad.

A top music school in Manchester has attacked an airline after it managed to lose seven expensive musical instruments on a flight home from Italy.

Chetham School of Music The students recently returned to the UK after performing a concert on the island of Ischia with Lufthansa, only to find that six trombones and a tuba did not return with them.

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He left the prestigious institution scrambling for instruments as the Chetham Symphony Orchestra plays the school’s end-of-year concert, one of the most prestigious nights on its annual calendar, this week at Bridgewater Lobby.

The school says airlines losing or abandoning career-critical instruments for musicians are becoming an increasingly common hazard when traveling abroad.

Lufthansa said airlines are currently experiencing extremely difficult circumstances due to staff shortages in the industry.

What happened to the students of Chetham’s School of Music when they returned from Italy with Lufthansa?

Students from Chetham’s School of Music performed in the public gardens at La Mortella, which is a well-known location in the musical world as the gardens were designed by Susanna Walton, the wife of Oldham-born composer William Walton.

However, things took a turn for the worse on the flight back to the UK when they realized six trombones and a snorkel had failed to fit on the Lufthansa plane.

Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra performing at Bridgewater Hall in 2019. Photo: Sara Porter

This left Chetham’s scouting for instruments ahead of the year-end orchestral concert at The Bridgewater Room Friday (July 8).

The school managed to give the musicians involved replacement instruments, but said they were by no means the same ones they used to play.

What did the school say?

Tom Redmond, Deputy Head of Chetham’s School of Music, said: “Six trombones and a tuba is quite a bulky and distinctive load. We were hoping they wouldn’t be too difficult for an airline to follow, but alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“So at the moment the heavy horn section of the Chetham Symphony Orchestra is lacking quite a large amount of brass.

“These are some of the best young musicians in the UK, ready to give the biggest gig of their lives at Bridgewater Hall on Friday.

“The school provided them with a set of spare instruments, but a musician’s instrument is a deeply personal object and no replacement can do justice to the one they learned about and fell in love with.

“All we can do is implore Lufthansa to return their instruments. This is part of a larger trend for musicians around the world. Touring musicians experience this nightmare on a daily basis when traveling between shows . Enough is enough.”

A potential sign of the music world’s frustration over air travel and the disappearance of instruments, Mr Redmond’s tweet about the Lufthansa debacle drew more than 350 likes.

What did Lufthansa say?

A Lufthansa spokesperson said: “The entire aviation industry, especially in Europe, is currently suffering from bottlenecks and staff shortages. Air transport operates through a carefully coordinated system of all partners, i.e. airports, airlines, ground handlers, state security controllers and air traffic controllers This cooperation based on the division of labor has proven its worth.

“At present, the staff-intensive baggage handling system is under considerable pressure due to staff shortages in all areas mentioned. All system partners are working under high pressure to ensure that passengers and their luggage take off and land on time.

“Due to the current staff shortage and the fact that planes cannot wait indefinitely due to booked rotations, baggage may not have been loaded in time and may arrive late, as in this case.

“In these cases, passengers who have filed a report of lost baggage will be informed promptly of the delay and also of the arrival of the baggage.

“For the protection of customer data, we cannot disclose the location of specific bags. I hope the instruments will arrive in Manchester very soon.


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