After years in which 'modern music' spelt only noise and confusion to the general listener, suddenly composers are in the news again and writing music that a wider public seems to want to hear. This week the Independent, in association with the Royal Academy of Music in London, launches a competition to discover the classical chart-toppers of tomorrow.
While Tavener and Gorecki are making the headlines, there is a vigour and diversity about the whole contemporary composing scene, particularly in Britain: orchestras have found a new confidence in playing the work of younger composers; contemporary music festivals, such as that in Huddersfield, are winning prestigious prizes and holding the attention of packed houses; today's composers are engaging with schools and prisons, as well as in concert halls.
The key to the British scene is an array of education and support systems. They range from the new National Curriculum requirement to teach the elements of musical creativity, to the tirelessly active Society for the Promotion of New Music, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary next week, and the internationally respected teachers of composition at universities and colleges.
Now one of its great centres, the Royal Academy of Music, is putting on a festival, 'Da Capo', to celebrate the living British composers whose careers began there. More than 60 will be represented in 16 concerts at the Academy from 8 to 12 March.
The Independent is pleased to be supporting the festival: in tomorrow's Weekend section we will carry details of a competition for composers under 20.
If you have the sounds of the future in your head, this is your chance to turn them into reality.
The entry coupon will appear on the Classical Music page along with news, features and reviews from the musical world.