THE Festival of British Music in Leeds has had a shock.
It is a tragedy that audiences are so meagre. The West Riding has insulted present-day British composers and eminent artists.
Without a blush, I say the programmes are the finest that have been compiled for the Festival anywhere in Britain. But what does Mr. Maurice Miles, conductor of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra get out of them? Praise from the discerning who know when music is alive and absorbing; blame and abuse from those so-called music lovers who go to concerts only when it is a social occasion. Or those who take out subscription tickets for a series of concerts, just because “Messiah” is included at Christmas.
But the issue is larger than that. Mr. Miles and the Y.S.O. have been let down by the Festival itself. And by the B.B.C.
THE Festival of Britain, in its country-wide publicity for Festival events, has chosen to ignore this British music series which has been inspired by Mr. Miles and a few others like Dr. Melville Cook, of Leeds Parish Church. Not a single mention has been made in these flamboyant posters seen all over the country, in America and half-way across Europe. But York’s Mystery Plays found their place in the far-flung publcity scheme; as did the Cheltenham Festival of contemporary music; and the Bath Festival . . . .
The Leeds music should have drawn visitors from all over the country.
THE B.B.C. is taking broadcasts from practically everything to do with the Festival of Britain. The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra concerts have not been included. This despite the fact that months ago the Y.S.O. submitted its programmes of British music to the B.B.C. Very nice, said the B.B.C. Nothing happened.
And now this week, the B.B.C Northern Orchestra is opening up with a series of public concerts at the Houldsworth Hall, Manchester, on lines similar to Leeds. Coincidence? – or did the B.B.C. Northern like the Y.S.O.s idea so much that it must copy it?
The Radio Times announces the series as that city’s “musical event during the Festival of Britain period.” Judging by the first two programmes to be broadcast next week, the Leeds scheme is the better one. It is more up-to-date and more comprehensive in every way.