Statement of Concern
The 62nd Session of the International Rostrum of Composers was held in Tallinn, Estonia, from 12 to 15 May 2015 and gathered representatives from 28 national radio networks from four continents, which presented 55 works composed within the five years preceding the Rostrum. The 2015 edition was held in the framework of Rostrum+, a Creative Europe co-funded project that aims to rethink the ways in which contemporary music connects with audiences through radio network by exploring new strategies to develop audiences, promote new music, enhance the skills of radio professionals and inspire cooperation between musicians, higher music education institutions and broadcasting companies throughout Europe and beyond.
The spirit of the International Rostrum of Composers, in line with the Five Music Rights proclaimed by the International Music Council, is to collect and internationally promote new and upcoming artistic voices (the future of music) from across the globe, providing access to broadcasts in dozens of countries and fostering opportunities for exchange and collaboration across several territories.
The delegates from national radio networks present at this year’s Rostrum edition in Tallinn seized this occasion to express their concern about the state of contemporary music in the public service worldwide:
This week in Tallinn, Estonia, we have come together as specialists representing new musical broadcasting in 28 countries at the annual International Rostrum of Composers to exchange ideas and recordings and to promote the development of new artists from all of our countries.
Our discussions brought to light the worrying number of specialist radio programs of new music and contemporary sound arts that have been cut or reduced in the past year across ours and other national public broadcasting networks.*
These cuts come on top of earlier reductions in this cultural area going as far back as the removal of this programming from CBC in 2008, which now appears as the beginning of this trend.
This should be a wake-up call to radio management across public broadcasting.
These programs represent the work of thousands of composers and musicians worldwide, and are responsible for thousands of recordings annually of music otherwise unavailable. This music we and our colleagues share with more than one million regular listeners, at the same time contributing to a growing cultural archive of quality music for the next generations.
The sophisticated and adventurous end of contemporary art music has become an easy target for broadcast corporations responding to government funding pressures and looking for easy savings.
Diversity, quality and risk taking are the lifeblood of public music broadcasting. The public broadcasting mission requires putting artistic values and diversity of expression ahead of commercial considerations. Indeed, without a commitment to quality and diversity, there is no reason for publicly funded music broadcasters to exist.
The voices of new composers are the beating heart of contemporary classical music culture and are essential to its future. Closing off opportunities in this sector threatens to make art music into a frozen museum culture, and risks depriving society of the opportunity to discover and be enriched by music from our own and many other cultures.
Public broadcasters frequently argue from the charter for diversity to protect their role in government funding decisions, and yet internally we are seeing them making the same reductive and narrowing choices that they criticise governments for.
We call on all public radio networks to reaffirm their commitment to the present and future health and diversity of our shared art musical culture by reinstating or reinvigorating new musical programming at their stations.
Tallinn, 15 May 2015
*Weekly new music and contemporary sound arts programs cut over the past years.
ABC New Music Up Late (Australia)
CBC Two New Hours (Canada)
NPO Ars Acoustica (Netherlands)
NPO Café Sonore (Netherlands)
DR Lyt til Nyt (Denmark)