Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary ó Over 30 members of Hungary's oldest professional orchestra played a funeral march outside the culture ministry on Friday [May 27] to protest a cutback in state funds that could force the ensemble to disband.
The Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1853, has received only 20 percent of the 60 million forints (GB£160,000, US$300,000, 240,000 euros) it needs to continue performing this year, said orchestra chairman BÈla Melis.
Speaking outside the ministry while standing behind a black casket symbolizing the possible demise of the ensemble, Melis called on Culture Minister Andr·s BozÛki to ensure the promised funds.
"If not, the ministry should consider the 152-year-old orchestra deceased," Melis said.
Musicians performed the funeral march from orchestra founder Ferenc Erkel's opera L·szlÛ Hunyadi and handed ministry officials a petition asking for the funding increase.
Led since 1997 by Italian maestro Rico Saccani, the orchestra plays at the Budapest Opera House.

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