We’re partnering with National Youth Choirs of Great Britain on their Young Composers Scheme, a new initiative which aims to annually identify and develop four talented composers aged 18-25 who are passionate about creating new music for vocal ensembles.
The scheme will run over one year and will offer residential courses, mentoring, workshops and performance showcases. Professional mentoring will be led by NYCGB Artistic Director Ben Parry and NMC composer Anna Meredith.
The deadline for applications is Saturday 22 September 2018, for guidelines and application forms, visit the NYCGB page.
Oliver Knussen "irreplaceable mentor to his fellow composers"
We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of composer/conductor Oliver Knussen at the age of 66. Here is an extract from the obituary Colin Matthews (NMC's Executive Producer, and good friend of Olly's) has written for the Guardian.
Oliver Knussen, who has died aged 66, was a towering figure in contemporary music, as composer and conductor, teacher and artistic director. The relatively small size of his compositional output conceals music of exceptional refinement and subtlety – a few bars of Knussen may have more impact than whole movements by lesser composers.
Besides definitive interpretations of his own music, he must surely have given more first performances than any other conductor, alongside an outstanding body of recordings. He was the central focus of so many activities, and an irreplaceable mentor to his fellow composers, who constantly sought and relied on his advice and encouragement ...
But any sense of Olly (as everyone knew him) belonging to the establishment would have been an illusion. He was too big a figure to fit into any easily defined category. He had a voracious appetite for knowledge, with a special love for films – he was a Hitchcock obsessive and became friends with Jim Jarmusch – and painting: he had a fascination for obscure artists such as Joachim Patinir and Ivan Bilibin. But above all his consuming passion was for music. I can think of no composer into whom he could not offer insights, although his taste was very much for the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a love that could and did get in the way of composing: it was as if every bar that he wrote was measured against all the music that he knew, and this explains the almost painfully slow process by which his music was written, and the number of fragments left behind.
He had close friendships with most of the major 20th-century composers – Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, Elliott Carter (whose late works he championed), Mauricio Kagel, Harrison Birtwistle and Alexander Goehr, among many others. He even established a relationship with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and loved to tell the story of how, when he said to him “You can call me Olly”, the reply came back “You can call me Stockhausen.”
Although he leaves a wonderful legacy of performance, it is primarily as a composer that he would want to be remembered. It makes it all the more regrettable that, although he gave less time to conducting, due to the ill health which dogged his last years, this did not mean – as he said to me in hope only a couple of months ago – that he would have time to write the music that was in his head, and which would undoubtedly have taken him in new and rewarding directions.
Full obituary on the Guardian website here
photo by David Sillitoe
Debut Discs is coming back for a second series and we need your help to make it happen!
Debut Discs is NMC’s acclaimed showcase for younger composers, enabling the release of their first full-length portrait album and helping them to secure exciting new professional opportunities.We launched the first series of Debut Discs in 2012 with great success, releasing 13 albums over 5 years which led to residencies, performances, commissions and academic opportunities for the composers involved.
We’re now thrilled to be extending the series, and plan to release at least a further 8 albums between 2018 and 2021.The first will be Philip Venables’ Below the Belt later this month, and future albums are planned from Joanna Bailie, Edmund Finnis, Linda Buckley, and David Fennessy - with more names to be announced.
A project on this scale requires a great deal of resources, and we need your help to make this happen. A donation of any size to our Debut Discs appeal will make a huge difference to our work with these composers, and allows us to nurture their future careers at a critical stage in their professional development. We’ve already raised 70% of our fundraising target, and with your help we will be able to inspire audiences worldwide with the work of these exciting composers.
If you felt able to make a donation, we would be very grateful. You can donate online here:
For a short time only, for every £1 you donate to NMC, Arts Council England will donate another £1. This means your donation will be doubled, and enable NMC to do even more for new generations of composers and listeners. Don’t forget, you can also boost your donation by completing the Gift Aid declaration.
Thank you for your support! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Alex at email@example.com or 020 3022 5888.
On Tuesday 12 December we welcomed NMC friends and industry colleagues to the Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green for our annual Friends event/office-warming party.
With a mincepie and a glass of wine in hand, our guests were welcomed by our Executive Director Anne Rushton, who highlighted key events and acheivements in 2017 (see our Roundup of 2017 blog), and the launch of our education resources for schools. Anne also announced our first releases in 2018, which include Next Wave 2 (pre-order available here), and albums from Brian Ferneyhough, Philip Venables and Andrew Hamilton.
The first performance of the night was of Colin Riley's lyric piece Something In Our Minds Will Always Stay from his recent release on NMC, Shenanigans, expertly played by cellist Rebecca Hepplewhite. Christopher Fox then talked to Colin Riley about his influences and compositional style and you can listen to the full interview (complete with the party 'ambience'!) below.
The second performance of the night was from Retorica (Philippa Mo and Harriet Mackenzie) who played John McCabe's Spielend from their portrait disc on NMC (available here). It was followed by Colin Matthews in conversation with Christopher Austin to discuss John McCabe's latest release on NMC, Silver Nocturnes, as well as Imogen Holst's legacy album String Chamber Music.
Next Wave 2 composer Robin Haigh with RAM students, Joshua Hickins and Thomas Jones
NMC trustee Jackie Newbould with Harriet Mackenzie and Monica McCabe
NMC's Label Assistant Rachel Wilmot and Development Assistant Lucile Gasser
In 2017, without our supporters we would only have been able to release 4 of our 13 new albums. So, we wanted to say a special 'Thank you for helping us to #KeepTheMusicGoing!' for #GivingTuesday. On Tuesday 28th November 2017, we opened our #KeepTheMusicGoing playlist to you and you added your tracks, which were the soundtrack to our day in the office. We had a great time listening to your suggestions and the almost 4 hours of music you gave us in total! The playlist is now closed but you can listen to it here or with the player below.
Every year, NMC has to fundraise almost 70% of its income from private sources, such as charitable trusts and individual donors. Revenue from sales income and our Arts Council grant covers only a small proportion of our costs, and we rely on our many funders to help us release exciting, innovative, and bold new music from the British Isles.
Our charitable status means we can embark on projects based on artistic merit, rather than commercial return alone. It is the generosity of our supporters that enables us to release all the exciting new music you find in our store every year, and preserve it for generations to come.
We're looking forward to hearing your suggestions and to a day filled with music curated by you!
If you want to find out more about the ways in which you can support NMC’s work, please click here.
What is #GivingTuesday?
#givingtuesday is the day to do good stuff for charity. On the day you can choose to support any charity you want in any way you want. Whether you bake good stuff, make good stuff, donate good stuff, tweet good stuff or even say good stuff ‐ how you support your favourite cause is totally up to you!
#givingtuesday arrived in the UK in 2014. Since then, the day has gone on to become one of Britain’s biggest days for charities, raising millions of pounds for good causes. #givingtuesday now runs in over 70 countries around the world including the US, Canada, Russia, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Australia and Brazil.
Click here to discover more about #givingtuesday.
Last night (13 September) Colin Matthews received the Special Achievement Gramophone Award for his unique contribution to British contemporary music as founder and executive producer of NMC Recordings. Following a wonderful and heartfelt speech from Sir Mark Elder (video & quote extracts below), Colin collected his award and received rapturous applause from the recording industry audience.
Congratulations to our dear Colin!
Extracts from Sir Mark Elder's speech ...
"This is an award for a special achievement – make no bones about it, this is not a lifetime achievement award. This is a life that shows no sign of a diminuendo or a morendo and is still actively going. Everybody knows who it is, it’s Colin. My dear friend and colleague for so many years. One of our most acclaimed composers, a man who can take commissions from any orchestra in the world and as a result be responsible for a catalogue of incredible depth and variety and success. He has, in his very busy life, always been interested in the breadth of his involvement. I’m particularly thinking of his interest in his fellow colleagues, his fellow composers, the generosity Colin shows particularly towards younger composers ...
... Tonight we need to focus on another part, yet another part, of his achievement. 30 years ago nearly, he formed, with Gustav Holst’s daughter Imogen, a remarkable woman, the idea of the Holst Foundation. Now many of you may not be aware of this, Imogen Holst was a visionary and this little plan, these meetings that she and Colin had, turned out to be in the last years of her life. And she wanted the funds to become available, as a result of the success of her father’s music, not to go towards his music but to go towards encouraging other British composers. A wonderful dream, a wonderful aim ... So, 28 years ago Colin formed and launched NMC. NMC, ladies and gentleman – can you believe it? NMC stands for new music cassettes. Now, do you remember cassettes? You know those little things that you put in a machine and they play music? Well, they say they’re coming back, I’m not sure! No wonder it’s now known simply as NMC ...
... Harrison Birtwistle, Alexander Goehr, Thea Musgrave, Judith Weir, Simon Holt, Gerald Barry, Helen Grime, Mark Bowden, Huw Watkins – these are names, just a few of the names, that have contributed towards this extraordinary achievement. Almost 300 titles in the catalogue, ladies and gentleman, which speaks for itself doesn’t it? But nobody must think that NMC feels it’s done it and this is the end, and that we’re celebrating something achieved – far from it. Nobody is sitting on any laurels, they are about to launch a series of new education resources for use in schools. Wonderful idea. How do we get young composers to be interested in writing music – to encourage and develop new composers? But also on a more broader base, to foster the idea that one can interest and inspire younger audiences to absorb new music – the openness of young people is a constant inspiration.
And Colin, I know, believes absolutely that if Imogen was still alive she would be thrilled at what this label has achieved. And it’s not the only thing Colin has done, it’s merely one part of his extraordinary contribution to our musical life. If Imogen Holst, ladies and gentlemen, would have been thrilled, surely we are too and I beg you raise the rafters for Colin Matthews."
Colin's full acceptance speech
"Thank you, Mark, for those wonderfully generous words. I’m not sure about cassettes but we have been thinking about vinyl!
This is an extraordinary special recognition of what we’ve been trying to achieve with NMC for now nearly 30 years. As Mark said, a catalogue approaching 300 titles and that represents music of over 300 composers almost exclusively living British composers. NMC has, from the start, been something special – we set it up as a charity. We also are fairly unique in the fact that the entire catalogue is still available – we never delete anything and we’re expanding into Education, as Mark has said. Our digital presence is increasing too. Last year over 11 million minutes of our music was streamed or downloaded, that’s 21 years of listening. We couldn’t do this without the support of our growing circle of NMC Friends – but in particular we owe a debt to our wonderful, our small but wonderful staff, who are so dedicated – and to a very hugely helpful board of trustees. Thank you, Gramophone, for this award. Thank you to PPL and PRS for sponsoring it. Thank you all."
Watch from 27'55 for Sir Mark Elder's full speech celebrating Colin's acheivement at NMC, followed by Colin accepting the award ...
photos 2 & 3 (c) Gramophone Magazine