Letter: Disharmony

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The Independent Culture
Sir: For Phil Murphy, the new director of the Arts Council of England, to accuse people of being "precious" because they point out that he had not researched his boss's speech to the RSA accurately is rich indeed ("Arts chief's gaffe ..." 20 October).

Mr Murphy has just come to the arts world from the political desk of the Press Association. He would not know an orchestra if it fell on him. Clearly neither would Gerry Robinson, the Council's chairman, otherwise he would never have compared the education work of British orchestras unfavourably with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

For the last 15 years the London Sinfonietta, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and the rest have been world pioneers in filling the gaps in music education that the collapse of music in the school curriculum has left. The championship of Sir Simon Rattle, the constant engagement of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and many others has meant that orchestras from many countries come to Britain to watch how building and widening an audience should be done.

No British arts organisation can expect public money without a commitment to education. While schools steadily push music to the margins of young people's experience, orchestras, choirs, and opera companies (even private ones like Glyndebourne) do what they can to open the ears of those whom this utilitarian government has abandoned. If Gerry Robinson does not want to become yet another much-hated figure in the Arts Council's portfolio of incompetence, he had better join some orchestra's schools workshops and learn how to direct his hot air more accurately.


Gladestry, Powys