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Fifteen classical works to get a second chance for an encore

Classical music neglected by the modern world is to be given a new lease of life in a project backed by the conductor Sir Simon Rattle.

Encore, an initiative by BBC Radio 3 and the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS), aims to hunt down orchestral works which have languished since their debut and give them another hearing - just as the Society of Authors' Encore award promotes second novels that have been overlooked.

Rattle has agreed to act as patron for the scheme, which aims to rediscover and perform 15 works over the next four years. "It is hard enough for orchestras to commission and perform new works, but harder still to find the rehearsal time for further performances. I therefore greatly applaud this initiative of the RPS and BBC Radio 3," he said.

The organisers were keen to stress that many musical works have struggled to be heard again through no intrinsic fault of their own, and that throughout history repeat performances have been a problem for composers.

Record companies, orchestras, conductors, publishers and musicians are being asked to nominate works which deserve a second shout, to be sifted by a jury of experts. The final 15 chosen works will be announced next month.

Radio 3 will broadcast concerts of the winners while the RPS will fund education projects aimed at encouraging wider audiences and greater understanding.

Tony Fell, the chairman of the RPS, which is funding its support for contemporary music from the proceeds of the sale of its archive of papers and scores, said too many works of real worth were disappearing from view.

"While the world premiere of a new piece of music is often attended by media attention and heightened expectation, only repeated hearings can bring out the depth and detail which will ensure a work's place in the repertoire," he said.

The RPS commissions about 10 classical works a year, while the BBC is reputedly the biggest supporter of new classical compositions in the world. Radio 3 spends £400,000 a year on new pieces.