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Touring with an Orchestra

MU Code of Practice

On this page you will find information about:

  • MU negotiations on behalf of self-employed musicians
  • How the MU represents your views and interests
  • Individual orchestra agreements
  • The MU Freelance Orchestral Committee (FOC)

The MU has published a code of practice for foreign touring — agreed with the ABO (the orchestra managements’ professional association).

The MU also agrees the schedule and rates of subsistence for each orchestral foreign tour with the orchestra management.

The daily rate for subsistence (per diem or PD) covers the cost of meals and incidentals such as hot drinks or laundry. We can advise on what the agreed PD rate has been for recent tours to any territory.

Let’s be under no illusions, foreign touring is hard work; long hours of travel to destinations that typically you have little chance to see, sometimes flying back home straight after the concert and generally working to a very tight schedule. It all adds up to what can be a less than satisfying experience.

On the plus side, when it’s good it is very good! There is a degree of camaraderie on tour that can bring a group of work-weary musicians closer together. Visiting new places and performing in the best concert halls in the world can still be rewarding — even after 34 years.

Bill Paterson, MU Steward and cellist at the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Main points of the Orchestral Foreign Touring Code of Practice:

Contract - All the details of the tour should have been agreed in writing between the orchestra representatives and the orchestral department of the MU prior to you travelling.

Insurance - Health (including medical expenses) and luggage insurance should be provided by the orchestra’s management. Instrument insurance is the responsibility of the player. MU members are eligible for up to £2,000 of free cover. In order to activate this before you travel please contact Hencilla Canworth on 020 8686 5050 or mail@hencilla.co.uk.

Visas and inoculations - The cost of these should be borne by the orchestra’s management.

Accommodation - You should be provided with your own room for each night of the tour and it should be at least a three-star rating. A full breakfast should be provided, where possible.

Per Diems - A sum of money, calculated at a daily rate, given to you in local currency for miscellaneous expenses. This covers each day of the tour, up until the time of departure. The daily rate should be cleared with the MU’s Orchestral Organiser by the orchestra’s management prior to the tour.

Airport transfers - Where these are not provided by the orchestra’s management, a payment amount should be stipulated in your agreement. The amount should reflect the transport costs incurred getting to and from all airports and also include any parking charges at UK airports.

Outward travel - Flight tickets and the first per diem payment, in the correct currency, should be given to you at the final UK rehearsal or at the airport, prior to departure.

Return travel - If you arrive back in the UK at your usual rehearsal location before 1pm, no fees are payable. Should you arrive after 1pm, you are due a half-concert fee. Please note that early and/or late call fees apply for travel from the UK airport to your rehearsal location.

Independent travel - Should you be asked to travel under your own steam, the orchestra’s management should reimburse you with the full cost.

‘Half concert’ fee - For each day of the tour, including travel and free days, you should be paid a minimum of a ‘half concert’ fee.

Related downloads

ABO Orchestral Foreign Touring Code of Practice (PDF 64.96 bytes file opens in new window)