Monday, August 20, 2007

Music Manifesto!

In passing, during last night's Proms concert with Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra there was, somewhat inevitably, a small programme about 'el sistema', that Venezuelan youth music programme from which 250,000 children have benefited. The aim is to get the kids off the street - and it has worked. You can read about it everywhere these days, but for example, here.

It seems that Bishop (ex) Richard Holloway of Scotland (an Anglican, so he does not get so much into the firing line of the two sides), has taken a liking to this. In his retirement he is the chairman of the Arts Council for Scotland - and a better guy you could not think of for the job. With some colleagues he took a trip to Venezuela to study the system further, and as a result they are going to try it out in Raploch, a cooncil estate in Stirling, Scotland, from next year. I wish them well - it would be brilliant if it made a bit of a difference. Though James MacMillan, composer of that ilk, has concerns since he thinks that the reformation (that of John Knox) killed Scottish classical music development stone dead. John Knox was a bit of a party pooper all right, but then again Bach and Handel worked after the reformation in their respective countries. MacMillan may have his own agenda on this just a little bit, partly because due to his faith he might have had a bit of a hard time in his childhood in the rougher end of Ayrshire, and perhaps also because he feels not much valued as a composer in Scotland? But he would not be the only one - and in many countries composers cannot live by composing alone. Unless you are Andrew Lloyd Webber. Did I say 'composer'? Hmm.

In researching the Raploch experiment I found the Music Manifesto. Not sure how you would describe it - it's not really an organisation, more a movement. It aims in the UK to connect young people and music, and is sponsored by a wide variety of music organisations, commercial and otherwise. Great Idea - and anyone can sign up to it! Gives information on a lot of youth events, though it does not look terribly strategic yet.... Music needs all the help it can get - and it would be really good if the Raploch experiment worked out. Needs to be said that lots of money is being poured at the Raploch estate, so the music alone may not be the ultimate factor in getting the kids out of trouble.