AS Scottish musicians who have been proud to make a contribution to our country's rich and vibrant cultural life we have grave concerns about the likely weakening of ties, in the event of a Yes vote, with the BBC - a UK institution which has since the 1920s contributed hugely to Scotland's artistic wellbeing.

The Scottish Government's White Paper talks about the setting up of a Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) which, it says, will negotiate for the continuing broadcast of BBC network programmes in return for output made in Scotland.

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 and 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.

As one of Scotland's two symphony orchestras, the BBC SSO serves all of Scotland, not only through its concerts in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and elsewhere, but through the broadcast of almost all of its performances on national radio and television; 75-80 of its programmes are broadcast per annum throughout the UK by Radio 3, and a much smaller number by Radio Scotland and BBC Scotland TV.

The orchestra is employed full-time by the BBC (receiving no funds from government) primarily to broadcast a huge range of music in public and on air. 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.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop recently attempted in a magazine article to explain how the BBC SSO's vital link with the BBC could continue in an independent Scotland. She maintained that through a negotiated agreement between the SBS and the BBC, Radio 3 would still want to buy the same number of programmes from the orchestra, continuing to cover a major part of its funding. So according to her the SSO's funding would be safe following a Yes vote. But she also pointed out the BBC has said it may have to make savings in future that could lead to one of its five orchestras being closed. She claimed this was a threat to the BBC SSO in the event of a No vote.

But 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. Conversely, in recent years the BBC has consistently shown how much it values the SSO in the context of its UK-wide cultural patronage responsibilities, and the presence of strong Scottish government within the UK makes it politically very unlikely that it would select the BBC SSO for closure if Scotland votes No.

With the rapid pace of technol­ogical change, the long term shape of broadcasting is uncertain - in Scotland and across the world. However, 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.

Rory Boyle, composer; Helen Grime, composer; James Loughran, former Principal Conductor, BBC SSO; Eddie McGuire, composer; John McLeod, composer; James MacMillan, composer; George McPhee, organist and Master of the Choristers, Paisley Abbey; Stuart MacRae, composer; Paul Mealor, composer; Hugh Macdonald, former director, BBC SSO, 4 Balvie Road, Milngavie.