Leading names in the Scottish classical music world have warned of a potential "disaster for the cultural life" of the nation in the event of a Yes vote next week.

In a letter published today, composers, conductors and a former director of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra express their "grave concerns" over the future of the orchestra in the event of a Yes vote and the establishment of a Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS).

The culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop, recently said the BBC SSO would be "ensured" in an independent Scotland.

However the letter - signed by Hugh Macdonald, the former Director of the BBC SSO, James Loughran, the former principal conductor of the SSO, and composers Rory Boyle, Helen Grime, Eddie McGuire, John McLeod, James MacMillan, Stuart MacRae and Paul Mealor, as well as George McPhee, the Organist and Master of the Choristers at Paisley Abbey - says it fears for the future of the orchestra if the BBC in Scotland replaced by a new broadcaster.

It concludes: "We remain unconvinced by the Scottish Government's assurances and believe that a Yes vote would place an immediate question mark over the future of the currently thriving BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

"To lose it would be a disaster for cultural life in Scotland."

It says: "Most of the discussion around this topic has centred on popular television programmes.

"However, there has been little or no discussion about radio, and the possible loss of the two networks that contribute most to our cultural life - Radio 4 and Radio 3, still one of the world's best, most adventurous classical music stations.

"Crucially, Radio 3 supports another of our irreplaceable cultural assets, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

"Strong creative and financial investment by the BBC, giving it relative freedom from commercial considerations, means that there is no other UK orchestra that does more, with more skill and dedication, for the music of our time and our country than the BBC SSO."

The full-time orchestra, based in Glasgow, has between 75 and 80 of its programmes broadcast a year by Radio 3, and others by Radio Scotland and on television.

The letter adds: "A significant part of its funding comes from Radio 3 in return for those 75-80 programmes.

"Without a radio network on which to broadcast most of its performances, it would be very hard to justify its existence, especially in Glasgow, which is also home to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra."

The letter expresses doubts about the assurances made by Hyslop and adds: "If, as she says, the BBC may at some point close an orchestra, it is inconceivable that Radio 3 would continue to contribute funding to the Scottish Symphony Orchestra in what would be a foreign country after a Yes vote, while cutting its funding to one of its four orchestras in the UK."