It was announced this month that RNZ Concert will be radically downsized or, as many – including one RNZ reporter – described it, "gutted".
Since the announcement, I've been trying to articulate why this is such a horrific development. Music is ephemeral. It exists in time but not in space. You can't touch music and brush your fingers against its bubbly edges like you might examine a piece of pottery, nor can you hold it in your hand and turn its pages like the most recent novel by Elizabeth Knox.
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Yet while our visual artists have public galleries and our writers have public libraries that house our stories and histories, our composers and musicians have had RNZ Concert. It has served as a gallery and library of sounds; a space available to everyone, free of charge, in which to experience the works of our composers and our orchestras, our choirs, our chamber ensembles and our soloists. More importantly, it is our only national gallery of music.
For musicians, the decision to dismantle RNZ Concert feels akin to closing down the National Library or the Auckland Art Gallery. Offering a part-time AM option with no presenters is much like saying you can go ahead and do a Google Image search, and let's not worry about those curators any more. It's a post-post-modern world, baby, and what is context anyway?
I'm mindful that RNZ Concert has never been perfect. It is a gallery filled with art that predominantly follows western art music traditions. But if we want to have a conversation about diversity in music broadcasting, then I'm not sure looking at Australian and British models is where I would start.
I despair the lack of courage, imagination and guts in really examining what RNZ Concert could be in Aotearoa. Music is a fantastically broad church, and we should be building and extending RNZ Concert, inviting more people into this precious gallery of sound, rather than tearing it down.
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It makes sense that RNZ wishes to create a platform for youth; pretending that it is not dismantling Concert to do so is disingenuous. In losing Concert, we make it so much harder for our composers and performers to be heard by more than the initiated few, and we create an Aotearoa much less diverse in the process. We're losing a national, public art institution, and my heart breaks for all of us.
• Frances Moore is a finalist of the Lexus Song Quest, a Fulbright Scholar and artistic director of Unstuck Opera Company.