Harvey: Ditch Conventions

One of Britain's leading composers is calling on fellow classical musicians to abandon the stuffy conventions that surround the concert hall and to adopt new and "blasphemous" ideas, such as amplifying the sound. After the stunning success of sales of Take That Concert Tickets, Harvey believes more needs to be done to attract fans to classical concerts.

Jonathan Harvey, whose piece Dum transisset sabbatum was featured in yesterday's BBC Proms matinée performance, is concerned that British youth are alienated by the traditions that still dictate that classical music should be played to rows of silent, seated listeners.

"Young people don't like concert halls... and wouldn't normally go to one except for amplified music," he says in a radio interview to be broadcast today. "There is a big divide between amplified and non-amplified music. The future must bring things that are considered blasphemous, like amplifying classical music in an atmosphere where people can come and go, and even perhaps… and certainly leave in the middle of a movement if they feel like it."

Harvey, 71, is one of the senior figures of classical music in Britain. A visiting professor of music at Oxford University and at Imperial College London, he has composed four string quartets, three operas and choral and orchestral works, including his Passion and Resurrection, the subject of a BBC television film. This weekend he voiced fears that if orchestras and conductors hang on to the orthodox method of performance they will end up playing to empty halls.

"Nobody should be deprived of classical music, least of all by silly conventions," he said.