Music: Sounds loft and found: Robert Maycock on a concert of music to match the Royal Academy's American Art show

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The Independent Culture
It was meant to be all-American; it could hardly have turned out more British. Alongside the current exhibition at the Royal Academy, Richard Bernas and the Music Projects ensemble are seeking out parallels in American music. To put the music among the paintings was too heavy on insurance - imagine the whaam] of a cello spike ripping through a Lichtenstein. But somebody knew a man in the property business . . . and so the 'American Counterpoints' series has set itself up a few minutes' walk away in an un- let office basement, squeezed between a pale pink carpet and an ominously low ceiling.

It's a broad, uncluttered space, the acoustic is clear if not exactly mellow, and it is not the only place in London to add tube trains to the soundscape. Wishful parallels with New York loft concerts of the Seventies soon fade. There's no atmosphere, save what the audience provides, and even then you scan every arrival for signs of an estate agent with clients in tow. For that matter the loft concerts were about launching new voices, not looking back.

No matter: in the best native traditions of making do, a good first night was had by a crowd that for once looked more modern-art than music-business. Roger Heaton brought it to life with Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint, which he has done often enough to give it an aggressive swing like a jazz clarinettist. The flautist Nancy Ruffer joined him in an equally confident performance of Esprit rude, esprit doux, Elliott Carter's birthday piece for Boulez. Copland's Nonet, included as a musical parallel to Edward Hopper's line in urban loneliness - and not the group's usual kind of piece, Bernas admitted - made the treat of the evening, its rare and rich sonority (three each of violins, violas and cellos) relished by the players and shaped by Bernas like the surprise discovery of a romantic soul in a bony body.

The rest of the programme took up English echoes - of Reich in Simon Bainbridge's Concertante in moto perpetuo, which Bainbridge conducted with pace and purpose, though he owned up to it being a sound he had to get out of his system. The new piece, Howard Skempton's tiny Snake, was more entirely of this land; it just used the same forces as the Copland, a typically useful and practical gesture. It sends mellow chords on manic tail- chasing expeditions, slackens the flow, and disappears with a pizzicato flurry into the centre of its own spiral. The musicians appeared to enjoy it as much as the listeners, and promptly played it again.

THE AGENT

Eric Hall started as an agent in showbusiness. He now works solely in sport, representing players in every Premiership club, including six Spurs players

I DEFY anybody to show me any agent in this industry who'd act like the Agent in All in the Game. He relates to me only in that he smokes big cigars and has showbiz photographs in his office; that's it. I don't think it's possible to do this, but my initial reaction was to sue for misrepresentation. It was nothing like an agent. I find it a monster slur. After all these so-called allegations about football agents, people are going to believe we do act like that. I get booed anyway by certain supporters at Spurs but this isn't going to help my reputation.

I cannot believe it that Jonathan Holmes (programme co-creator), who is a respected agent, didn't say: 'Hold on a minute, Stan Hey (writer). Agents just don't act that way.' Maybe Jonathan Holmes does, I've never seen him do business, but certainly I don't. The programme backs up the allegations about agents giving backhanders - that just doesn't happen.

The agent's behaviour was disgraceful. If he did barge past security and into a manager's office, and if he did say those things, then he'd have been marched out, barred, and would never work again. We're there to make deals happen, not to go around threatening chairmen. I'm a deal-maker not a deal-breaker; that guy was just causing trouble.

The whole thing was unreal. It was supposed to be a club fighting to win the League and they shot the big match at Gillingham or somewhere. And again, a manager giving a pre-match pep-talk and saying, 'Go out and break that player's legs' - that just doesn't happen.

And the agent did a pretty poor job anyway. If the player was that successful, I'd have wanted more than the pounds 1,000 a week that the agent was asking for. He seemed like a prat to me anyway, but if he's got this big goal- scorer who's doing monster well and has got Sampdoria interested, he should have been on for at least another pounds 3,000 a week.

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