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Letter: Upbeat music scene

Sir: How wonderful it is to be able to say that I did not recognise Sir Dennis Stevenson's description of contemporary classical music concerts ("Modern concerts `boring', says Blair's arts adviser", 27 January).

All the matters he mentions are constantly being addressed, both by the ensemble I run and many other promoters of contemporary music. I really can't understand how he can have missed this as a regular concert-goer.

Far from audiences consisting of relatives of the orchestra and the same eight faces at each concert, the first three concerts of our current season played to audiences of 782, 696 and 907, and I am happy to report healthy advance sales for our next three concerts.

I attended a concert given by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) last week, and their new concert hall was packed.

I disagree that modern composers don't explain their music. With the BCMG and London Sinfonietta it is a rare exception when a composer is not there to speak about his or her work.

I don't recognise the description of an audience falling asleep after buying expensive tickets at the South Bank Centre (where we are resident). We regularly offer tickets from as low as pounds 6 and I have always experienced our audiences as being particularly lively!

The comparison between contemporary visual art and contemporary music is misleading. These are very different disciplines operating under vastly different conditions.

We are looking seriously at this whole area, and are giving a concert in the Patrick Caulfield exhibition at the Hayward Gallery later in the spring.

I am alarmed at the implication that Sir Dennis's remarks will be taken seriously by Downing Street, but I must thank him for giving me a reason to write positively about the arts for a change.


Managing Director

London Sinfonietta

London SE1