One of the things we can be justly proud of is our rich culture of amateur orchestras and choral societies. From the smallest villages to the largest cities, these bring music to audiences throughout the year. Where do they source their performance material? From music libraries! And how do we value our music libraries? Well, to judge by the activities of too many local authorities, very little or not at all.
Many of us play or sing with organisations such as these, but without music libraries to provide the music our activities couldn’t continue – and it wouldn’t just be us who were left disappointed. For some time now the orchestra I play with has carried in its programmes a brief note to the effect that the concert the audience is currently enjoying couldn’t have taken place without our ability to borrow the orchestral parts from a library. We then acknowledge all of the libraries from which we’ve sourced the music. As an example of good practice I’d urge others to do the same. It only takes five minutes to remind a hall full of people of the importance of music libraries in the nation’s music-making – people who might well emerge as powerful advocates next time a local authority talks of reducing or axing its music services.