If size were what mattered, then London's contemporary music events would lead the world. Yet over and over we have a time lag even in the rest of Britain, let alone the international scene. We keep hearing about the insularity that kept modern classics beyond the pale earlier this century. But after they were belatedly let in, attitudes among the people who rule what we hear - publishers, broadcasters, established composers - simply fossilised again, this time in the mindset of the William Glock era 30 years back.

All of this is a prelude to Peter Sculthorpe. In his native Australia he has long been Top Composer, in the States he naturally tunes in with the West Coast outlook. Over here he used to get played in the Sixties, but after he turned his back on the Maxwell Davies/Birtwistle set, his music dropped out of programmes. A sound that approachable would never have done.

Not until now, at least. The Australian Chamber Orchestra bowled over a late night Proms audience two years ago.

For Londoners there is only Australia House tomorrow, and even then with short pieces and small forces - pianist Ian Munro, soprano Mary Wiegold and the Composers Ensemble - the more lavish side of Sculthorpe won't get its due. Still, it's enough to show off a distinctive voice, saturated in evocations of the Australian landscape, sounds of Aboriginal descent, and echoes of the wider Pacific world from which this once so British nation draws its modern identity.

Australia House, Strand, WC2. 7.30pm 1 Sept (071-887 5297)

(Photograph omitted)

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