The Scottish composer John McLeod, 80 this year and widely feted, was thrilled to learn that his work, The Sun Dances, was to receive a London premiere at the BBC Proms.
photo (c) Wojtek Kutyla
The performance, by the BBC Scottish SO and Donald Runnicles, was all a composer could have wished for. The broadcast on BBC Radio 3 enabled the work to be heard in every home in the land and worldwide on the internet.
The cherry on the composer’s cake was a delayed broadcast of the concert on BBC4 television.
So imagine John’s dismay when he turned on the telly and found his work had been cut out of the BBC SSO concert. No time factors were involved. ‘There were 15 minutes left at the end before the next programme,’ John tells us, ‘and it was filled up with some nature documentary.’
Other composers have had the same experience. They get a work played at the Proms, but dropped off TV. John McLeod calls this ‘contemporary classical composer discrimination.’ He’s right. Last year they did the same to James MacMillan’s violin concerto.
The BBC are entirely wrong to censor contemporary music from the supposedly specialist TV channel. It is not just philistinism at work in TV. It’s a blatant waste of public money. We – through the BBC – paid for this premiere. By shutting it off TV, the BBC are not giving – or getting full value. What’s the excuse?
(Share this post on social media if you agree with its premise. Let’s save some poor composer’s work next year.)