Harrex, spnm shortlisted composer and member
of New Music Brighton, outlines the activities and benefits of
membership of local composer associations.
Over recent years several local composer associations have
been established across Great Britain. Many composers will now find one
in their area or region. The interest being shown by spnm in publicising
the activities of these associations will, I hope, encourage more composers
to join one and also, perhaps, provide the basis of a network through
which we can share information and ideas, something begun by the Composers'
Guild, but which fell by the wayside on its amalgamation into the British
Academy of Composers and Songwriters.
Why have local groups been formed? A common thread, unsurprisingly, is
a recognition that composers work in isolation and, therefore, there is
a place for an organisation that provides mutual support and encouragement.
New Music Brighton's membership policy is inclusive, so any composer
living or working in Sussex, whatever their background, experience, genre
or compositional style, may join. Other groups take a similar line. For
example, David Penri-Evans, who established the Portsmouth
District Composers' Alliance in 1989, expresses the view that 'if
someone thinks they are a composer, or wants to support our activities,
they should be allowed to join. Whatever their level of experience and
ability, any composer will learn and benefit from their membership.'
What do we do? Like other of the associations, NMB has always focused
on putting on concerts of members' works, although not exclusively: in
October we will host a student workshop. The pooling of resources to put
on concerts is, I think, the greatest benefit of the local group. For
new composers there is nothing more helpful to your development than to
hear your works performed, and established composers need as much exposure
as they can get! Our selection policy has been very open. Generally, if
a member submits a work and can provide or identify performers then it
is included. The outcome of this policy has been remarkably well-balanced
events and a consistently high standard, thanks also to support by excellent
and sympathetic local performers. Of course, if a particular ensemble
is engaged, the selection process must recognise the performers' right
to choose what they play. Some other groups have adopted more structured
approaches to selection and to promoting their members' music. For example,
Nottingham Composers have focused on collaborative
projects with local organisations and musicians, culminating in chamber
orchestra and concerto concerts.
The spnm Guide
to Composer Associations is now available - click here
Some associations even publish members' works, in addition
to putting on concerts and workshops, and many can offer a wide range
of practical support. One such group is Composers
of Wales, which gives information to composers about performing
groups and distributes information to other musicians about what composers
can offer. Members' scores, are displayed whenever possible, and a comprehensive
newsletter is published three times a year. They recently published a
handbook 'So you want to commission a composer?' aimed at first-time commissioners.
Enid Luff tells me that they 'have only just begun'!
Of course, the range of activities offered will depend on demand from
members, available resources - people and financial - and perhaps most
of all on the imagination, enthusiasm and involvement of us, the members.
The views expressed by Patrick Harrex are his own. He is grateful for
comments given to him by members of a number of composers' associations
in the course of preparing this article.
What do you think?
We would welcome any responses to the articles featured
in new notes. Click here
to read what other people have thought about recent cover articles.
The monthly listings magazine new
notes is essential reading for composers, performers, and everyone
interested in what's new in new music. In its printed version new notes
reaches over 5,000 contemporary music enthusiasts in the UK and around
If you promote new music events you should advertise them in new notes.
Single concert listings are just £50+VAT. The magazine also features
ads for festivals, composer competitions, recordings and more.
new notes also features
monthly articles on issues at the forefront of new music
special offers on CDs, tickets, scores and books for spnm members
information about forthcoming spnm events
a free classified section for spnm members' non-trade ads.
For full details on advertising or inserting leaflets in new notes
please contact the Editor: John Fosbrook
Event listings for this
Promotion and Profitability
the World to the Warehouse
price new music?
from start to finish
challenge from Michael Oliva
the next century...
obsessed with consuming?
welcomes Joanna MacGregor.
Spectrum 2 - miniatures for
Hoxton Hall New Music Days.
Bath International Music Festival is 50.
Who is Georges Aperghis?
On frost, birth and death
Now that's what I call contemporary!