This week we're finding out more about Caroline Nelson, who became an NMC Trustee in 2016.
I had been playing instruments for years, but it was only when I went to the University of Leeds that I began to explore contemporary classical music. In my first year, I was approached by a composition student who was desperately trying to find a pianist to take on his (somewhat crazy) piece, and I seemed to be the only willing person in the whole building! After that, I joined the department ensemble, LSTwo, where we performed compositions from staff and students, as well as visiting composers such as Chaya Czernowin and Gerhard Stäbler.
My interest only grew after university, as I took a job at a music publisher in their contemporary classical department, where I dealt with (almost exclusively) living composers. It was in this role that I discovered NMC through a wonderful listening archive in the office. I was able to access everything NMC released with Chester and Novello composers, and so my journey began … I explored as much as I could, from Richard Rodney Bennett to Judith Weir.
It was during my time in that office that we were working to celebrate Sir John Tavener’s 70th birthday. As well as a host of concerts and events, I put together a proposal to NMC asking them to re-issue Sir John’s Akhmatova Requiem. It had been released back in 1981 by Carlton Classics but the recording was no longer available to buy. I was absolutely thrilled when NMC recognised the importance of having this work on sale again, and the album was released in September 2014. They were not content in simply allowing a stunning recording fall into the abyss. As Gramophone so aptly put it, “NMC deserves nothing but praise for making this remarkable music available again”. It was this experience that really opened my eyes to the extraordinary work that NMC does and compelled me to look further.
I decided to become a trustee in February 2016 because I wanted to help NMC in fulfilling their charitable aims; collaborating with leading composers, producing high quality recordings, promoting recordings to expand worldwide audiences for new music, and preserving this creativity for future generations. I had gained experience in working with world-class musicians by this point, so felt that I had more to offer the organisation and was keen to get involved.
NMC’s work is a hugely important part of the British music scene and we are constantly striving to record new voices as well as established figures, so that the catalogue continues to be a national archive of contemporary classical music in Britain. Our non-deletion policy ensures that recordings are kept permanently available, which is something that I am incredibly proud of in this day and age.
Being a trustee of NMC is something that I talk about a lot! I’m thrilled to be part of an organisation that focuses on their original (and very important) charitable aims, but evolves and expands with the times to include educational work, special projects and new partnerships. I’m looking forward to seeing how NMC grows further over the next 30 years and beyond. Long may it continue!!