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20 Nov  

U.S. composer and performer Nancy Bloomer Deussen died on 16th November. She was 88.


Bloomer Deussen, a prominent Californian, was co-founder of the San Francisco Bay Area National Association of Composers, also serving on the national body for a number of years.


Deussen was educated at Juilliard School, The Manhattan School of Music, USC School of Music and San Jose State University, studying composition with Vittorio Giannini, Lukas Foss, Ingolf Dahl and Wilson Coker.


Bloomer Deussen was an advocate of accessible contemporary music, a fact reflected in her own style, which is melodic and tonal. She also was known for using the natural world as a source for inspiration, both more generally in works such as Cascades (piano), One of Nature's Majesties (clarinet, bassoon and piano) and Loveliest of Trees (soprano with piano), or in works with a specific sense of place, such as Afternoon in Asbury Park (trumpet and piano), Parisian Caper (alto sax, clarinet and piano) or Yellowstone Suite (soprano and alto recorders, harpsichord, viola da gamba).


A recipient of many grants, including The Peninsula Community, Silicon Valley Arts Council, The American Composer's Forum, The Contemporary Record Society and the Mu Phi Epsilon Memorial Foundation, she also won the Mu Phi Epsilon Original Composition Contest for her Woodwind Quartet (1987), The Bay Area Composer's Symposium Award for Reflections on the Hudson, for orchestra (1994), The Britten on-the-Bay Prize for Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano (1996) and the Mu Phi Epsilon Original Composition Contest for Concerto for Clarinet and Small Orchestra (1999).


Bloomer Deussen was also active as a pianist, both in performances of her own works and in shows by Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin and others. She also worked privately as a teacher of composition.


Peninsula Suite (Nancy Bloomer Deussen) Mvmt. 1 - Morning Music

13 Nov  

George Benjamin will be the fourth British composer in a decade to be featured in the annual international Composer Festival. 


Three of the four concerts centre on his orchestral works, either alone or in combination with other instruments. On the 21st is the opportunity to hear his Duet for piano and orchestra; Dream of the Song for countertenor, female chorus and orchestra; Sometime Voices, for baritone solo, SATB chorus and orchestra; and Palimpsests. In case you can’t make it, this concert will be reported in its entirety on 23rd. The concert on 22nd begins with Sibelius’s Tapiola, providing a way into Benjamin’s A Mind of Winter, for soprano and orchestra, also an exploration of vast landscapes. This is followed Dance Figures and Ringed by the Flat Horizon.


The final concert on 24th features smaller works: Viola, viola for two violas; At First Light for chamber orchestra; and Into the Little Hill, a lyrical tale based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin for soprano, contralto and ensemble.


For more information and tickets: Konserthuset, Stockholm.

13 Nov  

A year Sound and Music published data into the ethnicity of those applying for their composition programmes. From these results they made changes to the application process of their Artist Development Programme, in the hope that it would lead to greater diversity in their applicants.


The results of this years’s survey suggest relatively little movement year on year (see inforgraphic, below).


SaM said: ‘If we are to make progress in making our opportunities more inclusive we need to think, and act, far more radically. Over the next few months we will be shaping a new strategy to address this need, in consultation with a broad range of external advisors.’


Full story, here.


10 Nov  

As we await the official manifesto launches from the main UK political parties, UK Music and ISM have called upon party leaders to back the industry ahead of the general election. 


From UK Music, CEO Michael Dugher has written to party leaders urging them to include policies to ‘protect copyright, secure the music industry’s talent pipeline and increase entrepreneurial support.’


UK Music CEO Michael Dugher said: “The UK music industry supports well over a hundred thousand jobs and contributes a massive amount to both the British economy and our cultural life.


“This General Election could be game-changing for all sorts of reasons and I’m determined to make sure that the voice of our vibrant and diverse music industry is heard loud and clear – whoever ends up in Downing Street.


For full story, see here.


ISM meanwhile has launched its ‘Manifesto for Musicians.’ It calls for: 

  • an all-encompassing deal to protect the music community in the event that Brexit goes ahead, which includes the introduction of a two-year, multi-entry visa for musicians.
  • the reform or abolition of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) which, it says, ‘is causing so much harm to music education in our secondary schools and undermining the incredibly valuable creative industries.’


For full story, see here.

3 Nov  

A belated congratulations to all those nominated for the Ivors Composers Awards 2019 (formerly BASCA). 


The full list is as follows:


Amateur or Young Performers


Agreed by Howard Moody


Ghost Songs by Gary Carpenter


The Salamander and the Moonraker by Edward Gregson


Chamber Ensemble


Flute Concerto by Dai Fujikura


Mondrian by Gary Carpenter


Sapiens by Mark Bowden




Mass in Troubled Times by John Pickard


O Virgo Prudentissima by Sir James Macmillan


Pocket Universe by Gear Hannan


Community or Education Project


All the Hills and Vales Along by Sir James Macmillan


Convo by Charlotte Harding


Never Again by Emily Peasgood


Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble


Jumping In by Laura Jurd


On Marsden Moor by Jonny Mansfield


This Much I Know is True by Mark Lockheart


Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble 


Mother Medusae by Michael J McEvoy


Quadriga in 5 by Simon Thacker


There is a Crack in Everything by Alison Rayner




The Book of Miracles (Trombone Concerto) by Gavin Higgins


Uncoiling the River by Kenneth Hesketh


Woven Space by Helen Grime


Small Chamber


Leafleoht by James Weeks


Meeting the Universe Halfway by Matthew Sergeant


String Quartet No.3 ‘Hana No Hanataba’ by Julian Anderson


Solo or Duo


Invisible Cities by Charlotte Bray


Keyboard Engine by Sir Harrison Birtwistle


Partials by Barnaby Martin


Sound Art


Aeons: A Sound Walk for Newcastle by Martin Green


Aurora by James Hamilton


Regretfully Yours, Ongoing by Neil Luck


Stage Works


Cave by Tansy Davies


Harriet by Hilda Paredes


Them by Charlotte Harding


The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum on Wednesday 4th December. Tickets to attend the ceremony (for The Ivors Academy members and the wider industry) and more information about the nominees are available here

27 Oct  

The Ivors Academy has announced that it is teaming up with Apple Music to bring greater awareness, within and outside the UK, of its organisation, its activities and its members.


For the next three years, The Ivors Academy together with Apple Music, will bring wider exposure and development opportunities for its members – all with the goal of strengthening its community of music creators.


From the Ivors website:


Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy, says: “2020 marks the 65th year that the Academy has presented Ivor Novello Awards and this new relationship with Apple Music marks an exciting evolution for us. We’re thrilled about bringing The Ivors to the fore for a new audience through the Apple ecosystem, as well as evolving the expertise and benefits we’re able to offer our members with the new programme of skills workshops we’re developing with them.”


The Ivors 2020 will be presented in association with Apple Music.  Apple Music will support the Academy’s mission to cultivate the next generation of Ivor Novello Award winners through the introduction of the Rising Star Award in association with Apple Music at The Ivors next year, as well featuring content from the event across their platform, including its global livestream Beats 1.


The newly introduced Rising Star will honour young British or Irish songwriting and composing talent who demonstrate exceptional potential and ambition. In addition to receiving an Ivor Novello Award, the winner will also receive ongoing support and mentorship from the Apple Music team. Further details of the new Rising Star Award will be announced in due course.


As part of the collaboration, Apple Music will also create a new series of workshops and events for The Ivors Academy members – part of the Academy’s strategy to cultivate the next generation of talent. The workshops will give members a deeper insight into how to best access and use the creative tools at their disposal to make music, as well as how their music is distributed and consumed.


Crispin Hunt, Chair of The Ivors Academy, says: “Working with Apple Music will bring even greater awareness within and outside the UK and Ireland for The Ivors Academy, the Ivor Novello Awards and our activities in campaigning for, inspiring and empowering music creators throughout the industry. Apple Music have demonstrated their knowledge, resources and a commitment to paying music creators over many years, and are a fantastic addition to the support we can offer all songwriters and composers across every genre.”


PRS for Music will retain their longstanding relationship with The Ivors as sponsors of two awards: the Most Performed Work and Icon Award (Icon being the new name for the Outstanding Contribution to British Music Award). The organisation has played a pivotal role in supporting The Ivors Academy over many years and will continue to work closely with the Academy in areas of campaigning, education and award sponsorship.


As well as sponsor of two Ivor Novello Awards, PRS for Music will continue its sponsorship of The Ivors Composer Awards and The Ivors Academy Gold Badge.


Past Ivor Novello Award recipients include a roll call of the greatest names in music over the past 60 years, with accolades collected by the likes of Jazzie B, Kate Bush, Stormzy, PJ Harvey, Sir Elton John, Brian Eno, Gary Barlow, George Michael, Annie Lennox and Amy Winehouse.


The Ivors 2020 will take place on Thursday 21st May at the Grosvenor House in London, hosted by Paul Gambaccini. Nominations will be announced in April.


There are no changes to the entry or judging process for The Ivors, which are run entirely independently by The Ivors Academy.

24 Oct  

This year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival features more than 60 events over 10 days.


The Composer in Residence is Swede Hanna Hartman, with a supporting programme—including works by Ann Cleare, Frank Denyer, Jenny Hval, Christine Sun Kim, Ellen Arkbro and Kelly Jayne Jones—from those who similarly ‘dare to travel around the norm, into quiet, unexpected places where nuance lives on.’ 


There are more than twenty world premieres, including new works from Frank Denyer, Jürg Frey, Magnus Granberg, Georg Friedrich Haas, Hanna Hartman and Naomi Pinnock. Haas’s work, written in homage to abstract painter Bridget Riley, will be premiered by London Sinfonietta There are also a host of UK premieres, including from Thomas Ankersmit, Cat Lamb, Aart Strootman, Barblina Meierhans and Heinz Holliger.


Improvisations are woven throughout the programme, including a concert from saxophonist Evan Parker marking his 75th birthday, as well as a rare appearance on piano from legendary composer Heiner Goebbels, who time-travels back to his days making free-form music with longtime collaborator Gianni Gebbia. And founding member of German rock pioneers Can, Irmin Schmidt performs UK premieres from his album 5 Klavierstücke.


Showcasing the work of artists and composers from the UK, Europe and as far afield as Georgia, Romania and Egypt, hcmf// will also give a platform to some incredible feats of performance, including an ice cello which melts as it plays, and a showcase for the ondes Martenot.


Norwegian experimental pop musician Jenny Hval has spent her career asking a series of intertwining existential questions; her new multi-disciplinary work The Practice of Love considers our intimate relationship with language. American experimental musician and visual artist Christine Sun Kim considers how music is held captive by capitalism, given definitions of etiquette and social order.


Showcasing a multiplicity of voices from around the world, there will be a re-creation of the Romanian/French artist Isidore Isou’s Juvenal Symphony No 4, a rare solo concert for voice and electronics from Egyptian experimental musician, Nadah El Shazly, and a performance of Mikheil Shugliashvili’s Grand Chromatic Fantasy for three pianos.


This assembly of artists, all speaking with their own unique voices, also includes some notable curiosities: from Switzerland, Luigi Archetti has developed a monumental 7-hour electronic noise marathon, Null, which will be presented over the course of a day. From France, ondes Martenot virtuoso Nadia Ratsimandresy will deliver a concert of premieres, showcasing her customised version of one of the most singular instruments of the 20th century.


Weaving a surreal dimension into festival proceedings, the University of Huddersfield’s edges ensemble will create incidental theatre as its members perform choice pages from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit (1964), the artist’s collection of surrealist passing thoughts.


The group’s ongoing performances begin with a launch event at Queensgate Market’s unique Temporary Contemporary gallery space. The gallery also hosts a selection of music and film works by Claudia Molitor, running throughout the festival. Molitor also returns to present the vinyl launch and a further performance of Decay, an evolving work commissioned by hcmf// in 2018, which has since traveled to Belgium, Scotland and Austin, Texas.


For more information:

17 Oct  

If you’re looking for a mixture of ancient and modern, look no further than November’s Cambridge Music Festival. From the choral spender of Handel’s Coronation Anthems, to established twentieth century classics, jazz and to new works from Zubin Kanga, Sally Beamish and from the Young Composers’ Network, there is something for everyone.


Featured contemporary repertoire includes Philip Glass’s Violin Sonata in an arrangement for saxophone made, and played, by Amy Dickson on 7th; Explore Ensemble’s consideration of Gérard Grisey legacy through works by Fausto Romitelli, Kaija Saariaho, Lisa Illean and Grisey himself on 8th; choral music from James MacMillan sung by The Sixteen on 9th;  an electronics, piano and video concert featuring works by Alexander Schubert, Claudia Molitor, Nicole Lizée and the world premiere of Zubin Kanga’s Trasnformations III on 13th; and a chance to hear Sally Beamish’s Hover in its world premiere tour played by violinist Joshua Bell on 14th. 


On 9th festival-goers will have the chance to hear works by up-and-coming composers between the ages of 15–22. Professional musicians from Explore Ensemble will work on compositions by Luke Fitzgerald, Olivia Ransome, Lucian Crosby, Jasper Eaglesfield, Alexia Sloane and Dominic Wills, all members of the Young Composers’ Network. 


Established twentieth century classics include works by Milhaud, Ravel, Decruck, Piazzolla, Kodály and Messiaen (complete Vingt Regards sur l’enfant-Jésus played by Steven Osborne on 8th). There will also be a splendid opening concert focusing on the choral music of Handel in the sumptuous surroundings of King’s College Chapel and in the company of the world-famous chapel choir, not to mention works by Tallis, Vaughan Williams, Josquin, Victoria, Monteverdi, Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn elsewhere. On 14th, finally, jazz Trio Manouche & Friends will perform classics by Django Reinhardt, Nat King Cole and others.


More info:

Cambridge Music Festival Website


Festival Preview:

9 Oct  

Sound and Music has just released the first results of its Can Compose, National Music Educators' Survey, which aims to reveal the barriers faced by young people looking to compose and create their own music.


The report found that:


-97% of educators agree there should be more opportunities for students to compose their own music

-42% report a fall in young people’s confidence to compose between Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11) and Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14)

-Only 27% of school teachers signpost to external opportunities, meaning few young people are able to progress their talent or interest

-There are over 600 barriers reported that prevent young people from creating their own music in the UK

-Near unanimous agreement that creating and composing should be a central element of music education


Head over to Sound and Music for the full analysis.

9 Oct  

Yesterday Music for Youth announced that broadcaster, composer and writer Jack Pepper will be its latest ambassador, just ahead of the charity’s upcoming 50th birthday. 


As an Ambassador for MFY, Jack will help to raise the profile of the charity and support its events, while working to advocate its values of community, diversity, and youth music engagement. Jack’s role will take effect at the Music For Youth Proms this November, where he will host ‘Spotlight On: New Music’, a special free concert showcasing original compositions by young performers, in an exciting cross-genre concert where pop, percussion, jazz and classical works will come together. 


Pepper is known for his work on Scala Radio, where he presents Jack Pepper’s Culture Bunker, celebrating stories of the people behind great music - with guests including Nicola Benedetti and Sir Simon Rattle. Jack also writes a monthly column for Classical Music Magazine, and has written for The Telegraph, BBC Music Magazine and Gramophone. Additionally, Jack has composed for the Royal Opera House, Canada’s SymphRONica and the Royal Philharmonic Society, and has had his work performed on Classic FM and the BBC.


For more info:

Music for Youth

Jack Pepper

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