Sound and Music would like to acknowledge the letter from over 72 individuals, headed by Martin Butler, Rolf Hind, Andrew Hugill, Ian Pace, Mariam Rezaei, and Chris Swithinbank.
As stated in our published response to the initial open letter, we have committed the organisation to carry out a meaningful consultation with the whole sector in order to maximize the impact of a renewed Sound and Music. We believe that this consultation should take place once a new leadership team is in place.
The appointment of the new CEO (Susanna Eastburn) has very recently been announced and the recruitment of a new team is still in progress. This has to remain the priority of the Board but we will be contacting you again, as soon as the new CEO is in place.
The Trustee Board of Sound and Music: Michelle Wright, Interim Chair, David Aspinall, Simon Emmerson, Cliff Fluet, Christopher Fox, and Debra King
On 27 March, two open letters [1, 2] to Sound and Music and Arts Council England were made public, criticising both organisations for their activities since the former of these was founded from a merger of the Society for the Promotion of New Music, the British Music Information Centre, Sonic Arts Network and the Contemporary Music Network in 2008. The letters, signed by various respected composers and musicians at various stages in their careers, have provoked lively debate, but the undersigned are concerned both by its tone and by certain assumptions made by the letters’ signatories. It has also been alarming to see well-known members of SAM staff and board, whose own work covers notated instrumental music as well as electronic and electroacoustic musics, personally described in derogatory terms in the ensuing debate.
Both letters criticise Sound and Music’s promotion of sound art and other music, describing these areas as ‘fringe activities which have little or no connection with the mainstream’. In so doing, the signatories appear to assert that notated, contemporary composition should receive a specially privileged status within Sound and Music’s activities, whilst at the same time failing to acknowledge the considerable amount of work the organisation has in any case undertaken in this field. In a time when musicians and composers increasingly work across genres and media and defy simplistic categorisation, it is divisive and unhelpful to seek to separate any one strand of contemporary music and sound from others or to plead for special treatment. Indeed, notated contemporary composition is itself a ‘fringe activity’, in the sense of being a small minority pursuit. But minority pursuits perceived to have wider significance and potential should be encouraged and supported; part of the purpose of public subsidy is surely to do this, whether for notated contemporary music, sound art, or any other forms of music.
As Sound and Music themselves recognised in their response to the recent debate, the transitional period since the merger has been a difficult one and in many ways the organisation is still finding its feet, a task made more challenging by the 42% funding cut from Arts Council England last year. In discussing how to secure a positive future for and greater awareness of British music both at home and abroad — a task in which Sound and Music has an undoubtedly vital role — the musical community should be as open-minded and supportive as possible of all their colleagues, and be prepared to embrace possibilities for widening the range of creative work produced, rather than restricting it to that already firmly established. It is by working together and interacting with each other, rather than ghettoisation or jealous guarding of limited conceptions of new music, that we will build a stronger and more successful community, and make possible that which is genuinely ‘new’.
Martin Butler, composer, Professor of Music, University of Sussex; former Chair, SPNM Rolf Hind, pianist, composer, Professor of Piano, Guildhall School of Music and Drama; former Artistic Director, SPNM Andrew Hugill, composer, Professor of Music, De Montfort University, Associate Researcher, Université de la Sorbonne Ian Pace, pianist, writer, Lecturer in Music, City University London Mariam Rezaei, composer, improviser, performer Chris Swithinbank, composer
Ximena Alarcón, New Media artist, Research Fellow, CRiSAP Newton Armstrong, composer, improviser, Lecturer in Music, City University London Simon Atkinson, composer, academic Brendan Ball, trumpeter, member of Ensemble 10.10 Richard Barrett, composer, performer Andrew Bowie, Professor of Philosophy and German, Royal Holloway, University of London, jazz saxophonist Neil Boynton, composer, artist, academic John Butcher, improviser, composer Michael Casey, composer, computer scientist Philip Clark, musician, writer Tansy Davies, composer Julio d’Escrivan, composer John Levack Drever, composer, academic Tim Ewers, composer, Director of Studies for Music, Kingston University Nick Fells, Head of Music, University of Glasgow Jerry Fishenden, composer, technologist, academic Ian Gardiner, composer, Lecturer in Music, Goldsmith’s College Mark Gasser, pianist, Lecturer in Piano and PhD Candidate, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts Dan Goren, composer, performer, director of Source Music Services Orlando Gough, composer Tom Haines, composer Tom Hall, composer, Senior Lecturer in Creative Music Technology, Anglia Ruskin University Phil Hallett, former Director, Sonic Arts Network Louise Harris, composer, Lecturer in Music, Kingston University Roddy Hawkins, Early Career Research Associate, Institute of Musical Research Björn Heile, Senior Lecturer in Music, University of Glasgow Ron Herrema, composer Kathy Hinde, audio-visual artist Bennett Hogg, Lecturer in Music, Newcastle University John Kieffer, writer, curator, former Creative Director, Sound and Music Josh Kopeček, musician Leigh Landy, composer, educator Becca Laurence, freelance project manager and creative educationalist Anton Lukoszevieze, cellist, director, artist John Lunn, composer Nigel McBride, composer Eliza McCarthy, pianist Scott McLaughlin, composer Annelie Nederberg, composer Carola Nielinger-Vakil, flautist, musicologist Katharine Norman, composer, writer, sound artist, Honorary Research Fellow, De Montfort University Aki Pasoulas, composer, educator Jeremy Peyton Jones, composer, academic Eleri Angharad Pound, composer, harpist Amber Priestley, composer, sound designer David Prior, composer, sound artist, Associate Professor, University College Falmouth Lauren Redhead, composer John Richards, musician Sam Richards, improviser, pianist, composer, writer, Lecturer in Music, Plymouth University Robin Rimbaud scanner, composer, artist Samuel Rodgers, sound artist, improviser Lee Scott, composer, PhD student Stacey Sewell, PhD student, University College Falmouth Andre Shlimon, composer, performer Jack Ryan Smith, musicologist Michael Spencer, composer, Lecturer in Music, University of Leeds Neal Spowage, artist, musician Tim Steiner, composer Marcel Swiboda, Lecturer in Cultural Studies, University of Leeds Philip Thomas, pianist, Reader in Music, University of Huddersfield Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, Reader in Composition and Studio Director, University of Huddersfield Craig Vear, composer, researcher Oliver Vessey, composer, performer Nina Whiteman, composer, singer, co-director, Trio Atem Jerry Wigens, composer, improviser, performer Ian Willcock, artist, academic Marc Yeats, composer Alistair Zaldua, composer
Panos Amelides, composer Kerry Andrew, composer, performer Iain Armstrong, composer, sound artist, improviser, co-director SOUNDkitchen Peter Ashton, teacher, composer, performer Adam Asnan, composer, performer Jovana Backovic, composer/performer Michael Bassett, Creative Producer for Music & Sound Art, ICIA University of Bath Sam Belinfante, artist Mike Blow, artist and researcher, Sonic Art Research Unit, Oxford Brookes University James Bulley, composer, sound artist Duncan Chapman, composer, sound artist Stephen Chase, composer, performer Li-Chuan Chong, composer, sonic artist, improviser Yiannis Christofides, composer, sound artist and researcher Jonathan Cole, composer and teacher Sarah Dacey, singer, composer, teacher Andrew Deakin, composer, Co-director of Octopus Collective, Cumbria Daz Disley, sound engineer, facilitator, software developer Jason Dixon, composer Graham Dowdall, musician, composer tutor at Goldsmiths Lawrence Dunn, composer Kevin Flanagan, composer, improviser Philip Flood, former trustee, spnm Owen Green, composer, improviser Andrew Hall, composer, performer Damien Harron, Senior Lecturer, Leeds College of Music Andrew Hill, composer, researcher Joseph Hyde, composer, media artist, academic Simon Katan, audiovisual composer/performer Peiman Khosravi, composer Visa Kuoppala, composer, improviser Duncan MacLeod, composer, Lecturer in Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance Paul Mann, conductor Ruaidhri Mannion, composer Will Montgomery, musician, journalist, academic Hilary Mullaney, composer, academic Peter Nagle, composer Ed Perkins, audiovisual composer/performer Xenia Pestova, pianist, Lecturer and Head of Performance, Bangor University School of Music Mark Pilkington, composer, PhD student Jeevan Rai, composer, sound artist, improviser Colin Riley, composer, former trustee of spnm, Senior Lecturer, Brunel University Jez Riley French, composer, musician, artist Stuart Russell, composer, performer, sonic artist, co-director of Colchester new Music Tim Rutherford-Johnson, writer, musicologist Matthew Sheeran, composer Josh Spear, composer, musician Ian Stonehouse, Head of the Electronic Music Studios, Goldsmiths, Univ. of London Jamie Telford, composer, performer Richard Thomas, cellist, sound recordist, former Bmic and SAM staff member Peter Todd, new media artist, programmer, researcher David Toop, composer, writer, curator, Senior Research Fellow at London College of Communication Bill Vine, composer, performer, sonic artist Lisa Whistlecroft, composer, sound artist, former elected Director and Company Secretary of Sonic Arts Network Tony Whitehead, sound artist Paul Whitty, composer, Professor of Composition, Oxford Brookes University Trevor Wiggins, musician, researcher, editor Sean Williams, music maker, sound artist Daniel Wilson, composer Mark Peter Wright, artist Reynaldo Young, composer, improviser, director of the Cardboard Citizens New Music Ensemble
After premiering Schattenspiel [Update, 12/4: now titled something golden in the night] with saxophonist Haruka Inoue at IRCAM on Saturday night, I am in Drammen, Norway, for tonight’s performance of the same piece by Australian saxophonist Joshua Hyde at this year’s Scandinavian Saxophone Festival. The festival runs all week and features above all a series of masterclasses for young saxophonists. Tonight’s concert is titled ‘Saxophone Today’ and Josh is also playing works by Sam Andreyev, Chris Dench, Liza Lim, Dai Fujikura, Philip Venables, Bruno Maderna and Luciano Berio. I’m also looking forward to the ‘Late Night In C’ on Wednesday, though I might need my earplugs…
My newest piece, Schattenspiel [Update, 12/4: now titled something golden in the night] for soprano saxophone and electronics, a preview of which you can hear above, will be premiered on Saturday 31 March at 4 p.m. by Haruka Inoue (on the right in the picture above) in IRCAM’s Espace de projection. The concert will also feature new works by my classmates Juan Arroyo, Keita Matsumiya, Vittorio Montalti, Marcin Stańczyk and Ying Wang. Schattenspiel features a visual element — a motorised sculpture — so come along not only to hear but also to see the music.