A new spirit abroad: are new music advocates growing in confidence ?

The reaction to the cutting, by the BBC, of new compositions from the re-broadcasting of Proms concerts on BBC4 has caused quite a stir; and the exciting thing is, it seems to be growing. 

Writers, performers and composers have all taken to newspapers and social media platforms to give voice to their outrage in a feverish outburst. Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian;  Chief Executive of Sound and Music, Susanna Eastburn also in The Guardian; pianist and teacher Frances Wilson in Sound and Music; Maxim Boon in Limelight magazine; the list goes on.  (There was also something from Lebrecht, but we needn't go into that).

As Master of the Queen's Music, Judith Weir, observed in Higgins' article: "There is a new spirit abroad.' Twitter has been awash with critical backlash from both established composers such as James Macmillan, as well as a distinct crop of emerging composers too. It feels as though there is a growing confidence in those prepared to stand up for contemporary music, a real vigour developing in their desire to fight its corner. 

The wonderful thing about building your own community on social media platforms such as Twitter is that you can see a trend emerge and develop, and even participate in dialogue and debate about those same trends too. Composers, journalists and performers have taken to social media to express their outrage as well as to broadsheet newspapers. Alex Ross, whose pen is sensitive to even the slightest twitch in the musical web, re-tweeted Susanna Eastburn's article too all the way from New York. Of course, the danger with creating that same online community is that it's all too easy to lose perspective, to be unable to see past the confines of your own Twitterverse and feel that the whole world is addressing your issue. But this feels different, as though it is attracting more and more voices, as though it is giving them the confidence to stand up and support the growing reaction to the situation.

New music has always had its detractors; for every Ezra Pound urging us to 'Make it New,' there is always a multitude of people ready to stand entrenched by the Old. But the rash of articles, features, blogposts, tweets, Facebook status updates and the like is blossoming rapidly at the moment, bearing an increasing momentum.

Trends, by definition, blossom and then fade; let's hope that this one mobilises the wider community of those of us passionately committed to contemporary music, and makes the establishment aware that we are here, we are growing more confident by the hour - and we won't stop championing the cause of today's music, the composers who give it voice and the audience that clamours to hear it.

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