I am deeply dismayed to learn of the proposed cuts in the funding of the Bromley Youth Music Trust, which may result in the closure of the Bromley Youth Chamber Orchestra.

I quote from the article in this week's local News Shopper in which you referred to the trust as a "Rolls Royce service". In some respects I agree with you, in that the Bromley Youth Music Trust is the finest organisation of its kind in my long and wide experience in the field of music education. The phrase however, also implies an elitist connotation, and with this I heartily disagree.

Excellence in training in music, or in fact in any type of training, whether in the arts or sport, which requires a high degree of self discipline and team spirit is a vital part of comprehensive education. In order to achieve such excellence, as is apparent in the Bromley Youth Chamber Orchestra, these children and their parents and teachers make personal sacrifices both of time and money to achieve a standard second to none.

As a lifetime resident in the London Borough of Bromley, I have felt very proud of my connection with the music life of the borough, and have often boasted to my less fortunate friends from other areas, of the great support given by Bromley to the arts.

Having travelled the world as an orchestra leader, teaching, playing chamber music and as a soloist, I have had wide experience of music making at every level, and I have noticed with great pleasure the dedication of the staff who teach and guide these children. I feel they deserve every possible support to continue the excellent work they are doing to produce students many of whom now occupy prominent positions in the musical life of this country. To deprive them of this support is diminishing the quality of education in Bromley. Children from all social strata are now benefiting from this unifying international language of music, and those who can financially afford it least are the ones who will suffer most.

The Trust has always made every effort to raise money on its own behalf. Sadly, as music is so often considered a luxury in education it is always one of the first casualties when financial cuts are envisaged, and the financial support from Bromley Council has been up to the present time, one of the reasons why Bromley could be justly proud of its practical encouragement of young musicians who have brought great prestige to the borough. Any cut-backs could so severely curtail the work these excellent teachers are doing in producing young musicians to match the finest, that they are in danger of having to close. This would be a tragedy for everyone.

Hugh Bean C.B.E., F.R.C.M.,

Honorary President of the Bromley Youth Chamber Orchestra Professor of Violin, Royal College of Music Leader Emeritus, Philharmonia Orchestra

November 29, 2001 16:51