The review of Sinfonia 21’s Contemporary Music Network concert (February 6th) drew attention to the inconsistency in our attitude to musical anniversaries. Ockegham’s 500th allows him a week (BBC Composer of the Week, article by Bayan Northcott in your classical music section), Purcell’s tercentenary resulted in a year-long celebration of English music, Schubert’s bicentenary got him a day, and I dread the approaching Brahms events. Within a shorter time-scale, however, it seems very surprising that no-one -national press, BBC, specialist music press – has paid any attention to the fact that this happens to be the 25th anniversary of the Contemporary Music Network itself. Without this scheme Sinfonia 21’s London performance could not have been heard in 5 other venues (Cambridge, Durham, Southampton, Brighton, Lancaster).
Your reviewer does devote the first paragraph of her review to this fact but it should not be up to the person who devised the scheme in the first place to raise the subject. In reality there has been no reflection on its achievements (considerable), no special broadcasts of past concerts (some amazing ones), not even a reception with a glass of Arts Council wine. I admit that I have benefited from these concerts throughout the whole 25 year period both as performer, composer and listener but I hope that I’m not the only one who finds this public silence a little sad and even ungracious.
Yours, Professor Gavin Bryars