Tuesday, April 29, 2003


On Saturday composer James Macmillan wrote a thoughtful piece for the Guardian on the neglect of contemporary classical music among those engaged with other cutting-edge art forms. The loquacious Norman Lebrecht follows up the same theme tomorrow on BBC Radio 3 at 18:45 in lebrecht.live. He asks: "Why Are We Scared Of New Music?"... The programme blurb continues: "We rush out to see the latest films, snap up new novels, swarm to contemporary art. But mention new music and most people stay away. Why the fear? It cannot only be the legacy of atonality. Much new music nowadays is tuneful. Yet audiences remain unconvinced. Is there something deeper within us that reinforces the fear, condemning music to live in its past?" If you want to comment you can email: lebrecht.live@bbc.co.uk.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ades' 20-minute Piano Quintet was performed in London the other evening (QEH) by the composer and the Arditti Quartet. Writing in The Independent today, Bayan Northcott acknowledges that its flourishes, expressive motions and deliberate rubato are conscious attempts to evoke the nineteenth century -- the ever-deepening pit of classical music -- while definitely showing why we cannot rest content to return to that particular womb. But , he asks, dazzling technique and stout advocacy aside, does this amount to much more than a postmodern jeu d'esprit...?

Incidentally, James MacMillan will conduct Harrison Birtwistle's 'Exody and Cry of Anubis' at the RNCM, Manchester, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra on 9 May 2003.

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