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Orchestra should be a source of pride for everyone

IN the early-1970s I left my home in Glasgow for four years to study at Queen's University. It was then that I came into contact with the wonderful Ulster Orchestra.

I regularly attended its lunchtime concerts in the Whitla Hall and often wondered if productivity in the offices and shopfloors in Belfast had risen for those employees whose heartbeats had just been quickened by the Hallelujah Chorus, or whatever, on their lunch break.

I suppose that's all we can do - wonder. Which is why, back in my native city, I listened this week with such despair to the views of a man on the Nolan Show undermining the case for properly funding the Ulster Orchestra.

In Scotland we are fortunate to play host to a world-class orchestra - the Scottish National Orchestra - which, since 2007, has been directly funded by the Scottish Government.

We realise the intrinsic worth to Scotland - at an individual and community level - in having an internationally acclaimed symphony orchestra capable of inspiring the next generation of musical talent, as well as inspiring ordinary people in their ordinary lives.

Equally, the wonderful Ulster Orchestra should be a source of pride for everyone in Northern Ireland.

Even those who might never attend one of its concerts benefit from its lucre in ways they may never fully appreciate.

The economic case for the Ulster Orchestra can be easily made, but that is not why it should be preserved. It should be preserved and cherished because - like the music of Phil Coulter, Van Morrison, Stiff Little Fingers and James Galway - it enhances and enriches the quality of life itself.

JIMMY HIGGINS

Glasgow

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