Change or die

A look at the relationship between composers, orchestras, and their audiences, by Stephen McNeff.

Guardian Unlimited | Film & Music | Change or die

Most importantly, I want to persuade audiences that new music need not be intimidating. Last summer, a short work premiered at the orchestra’s outdoor concerts was heard by a staggering – for new music – 38,000 people. The BSO’s principal conductor, Marin Alsop, is not only committed to new music but is a skilled communicator who likes to introduce works personally. Ahead of the premiere of my new work Heiligenstadt last November, she and I spoke about it, while the orchestra played extracts.

The audience’s response convinced me that this was extraordinarily valuable in helping people be involved with what they were about to hear.