Friday 16 September 2011, 13:44
As everyone knows, the BBC has a long standing, continuing commitment to new talent, spanning the genres, encompassing writers, actors, presenters and, of course, musicians. In practical terms, this means BBC orchestras play a lot of contemporary music.
As I've mentioned before, there is a little part of me that enjoys getting to grips with the rhythmic complexities of modern music, but there are times when you're counting so much that you unwittingly end up looking like the dog from those insurance adverts in an effort to keep the pulse.
Of course, as a professor of mine once said "Laura, daaaaahling, your technical deficiencies are not the composer's problem" (composers - please do not take that as carte blanche to write nonsensical things). It is our job to find a way to play whatever is on the page in front of us and find a way of understanding the score (I find our associate guest conductor, François, a genius for this).
So, if this is how an overly-enthusiastic musician feels, where does that leave you, the audience member? In my humble opinion, it is like this. If no one had given James MacMillan a chance, we would never have had his stunning Seven Last Words From The Cross. If the Royal Opera House hadn't given Joby Talbot a chance, they would not have had the success of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.
If no one had given John Cage a chance, events like the recent Southbank Centre John Cage Night would never have occurred. If you choose not to attend a concert simply because there is a contemporary work in it, you genuinely could miss out on hearing a gem. People talk about how wonderful it would have been to be at the première performance of this work, or that work; we don't know how posterity will view music written today, so this is your chance to be at those performances.
Composers deserve the opportunity to experiment, to develop and nurture their craft in exactly the same way instrumentalists do. We owe it to the generations to come to keep pushing the limits of expression and creative spirit. If we don't, it continues to perpetrate the myth that classical music is a shrine to the days of yore.