Bill Holland

A director of record company Universal Classics & Jazz challenges Michael Church's article on the Classical Brits Awards, in which he criticised the classical music industry
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The Independent Online

Broadsheet music columnists and their musical musings serve a valuable purpose: they entertain, shock, amuse and provoke. By doing this, as opposed to critically assessing the music as a reviewer, they help to raise an awareness of classical music. Trouble is, these self-proclaimed custodians of good taste have an unfortunate tendency to despise commercial success.

Michael Church's review of the Classical Brits Awards was certainly an amusing read. I take issue, however, with the disingenuous way he presented his facts to illustrate the scenario where the classical music industry is "whistling in the face of extinction". What nonsense. We put together a great show - to be broadcast shortly - which will make make great TV on both the artistic as well as the commercial level. Of course, we were aware that the popular part of the line-up would provoke a fit of the vapours from some journalists.

Naughty Mr Church continued his obituary for the industry by drawing the reader's attention to part of this month's new releases: the Gladiator soundtrack and England Anthems. Conveniently he omitted to mention our other releases: Shostakovitch's string quartets, Rameau's Dardanus and significant world-music releases. It would be condescending of us to dictate to the public exactly what they should be listening to. The fact that they do buy the Charlotte Churches and the Lesley Garretts in such numbers subsidises the recording of more obscure and less commercially successful works.

Unfortunately Mr Church's piece is typical of cynical music commentators who seem to have lost the ability to enjoy music. These journalists are losing credibility: how can the reader distinguish fact from fiction when everything they write is blurred by spin?