The least we can do is support them

Something I heard conductor Joshua Weilerstein say during the Proms Extra programme a couple of weekends back has helped focus my attention on an incoming press release this week.

It was something about the dwindling number of living composers represented in concerts today compared to the mid-nineteenth century.

I’m not entirely sure of the provenance of the statistics (I also can’t be arsed to check out the numbers), but they sounded plausible. Plausible enough.

Most importantly, what Weilerstein made me think: if I’m striving to support this sector, I could be doing more to reflect on living composers. I don’t do that. Therefore I fail them.

A good place to start is the LSO’s latest announcement. The LSO Jerwood+,  LSO Soundhub, and the Panufnik Composers Scheme.  Twelve composers get money, in-kind support, mentoring, a band to play their work, and (in some cases) opportunities for people to hear their creations. 

Given that a number of organisations are doing what they need to do to support living composers, actually listening to those new creations seems like the very least we can do. A no-brainer. Why aren’t we doing this already?

The LSO Jerwood+ scheme (this year’s intake: Amir Konjani and Daniel Kidane) will see two chamber-scale concerts from conception to performance (dates to be announced). 

Music by Emma-Jean Thackray and Jasmin Kent Rodgman who took part in the pilot year of the LSO Jerwood+ scheme, will feature in a concert on Saturday 6 October and Saturday 24 November at LSO St Luke’s. I can’t do the first one (I’m doing a fundraising firewalk), but 24th November works for me. 

The LSO Soundhub programme sees four new members 2018/19, including Alex Ho, Jamie Man, Donal Sarsfield and Keting Sun. Composers Lillie Harris and Robin Haigh will progress to phase II of the first scheme and will write a new commission for children, premiered in the autumn.