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colin award.JPGLast 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 ...mark Elder (c) gramophone_0.jpg

"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 (c) gramophone.jpgColin'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

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Education Banner

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) published a feature about our new range of education resources on their blog. Read an extract below and follow the link to read the full article.

 

NMC Recordings holds a distinctive position in the music industry: we are both a record label and a registered charity.

At first glance, being a charity may seem an unusual business model for a record label. However, for NMC it enables us to carry out a vitally important role in the classical music industry: it ensures we can act as an advocator and promoter of high quality new music, free from commercial restrictions that could hinder other labels.

NMC is more than just a record label. We are delighted to launch a series of initiatives to bring our recordings to eager new ears and younger audiences. Through a range of education resources, aimed at bringing contemporary classical music to the classroom, we hope to assist in the development of emerging talent, and to inspire an interest in and appreciation for new music.

 

To read the full article, visit ISM's website here.

 

To exlore our education resources, click here or on the images below:

 

rstrngGSCE DanceGCSE Music

Other ProjectsMusic MapArts Award

Feature

Australian guitarist Daryl Buckley is Artistic Director of ELISION Ensemble, a chamber ensemble specialising in contemporary classical music. ELISION began life performing at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne in 1986. It established its international reputation as a new music ensemble through its engagement with complex and virtuosically challenging aesthetics. ELISION’s 16-strong membership includes some of the world’s leading musicians who have defined contemporary instrumental technique with their recordings and publications.

ELISION ensemble appears on NMC performing works by Richard Barrett, Sam Hayden and Chris Dench. Click here for a full list of albums. They also feature on releases from Huddersfield Contemporary Records, visit the HCR page here.

 

Daryl Buckley Q&A

Can you share with us your top five contemporary composers and/or pieces?

Currently my all time favourites are Liza Lim, Richard Barrett, Evan Johnson, Timothy McCormack and Aaron Cassidy. No surprises there. I also like Howlin Wolf and Blind Willie Johnson.

 

Where and what was your first musical performance?

Lost in history. Too long ago. Possibly a folk club in Melbourne.

 

Any stories of unusual jobs you had prior to entering the music world?

When I was twenty I worked as a Boilermakers assistant at the Naval Dockyards in Williamstown, Melbourne. For most of that time I was engaged in the half-life refit of the HMAS Parramatta, a River-Class destroyer. The place possessed the most unique and idiosyncratic gathering of people that I have ever met in my life. Intellectual, criminal, and the near-saintly; sort of a The Good, the Bad and the Ugly played out in an asbestos ridden toxic environment on the water plagued by seagulls!

 

You’re stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what do you play to keep everyone entertained while you wait to be rescued?

Donald Trump, Niccolo Machiavelli and Satan. No rescue would be possible so it has to be 'You Was Born to Die' by Blind Willie McTell. Something we could all sing.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I am learning an insane piece of music, entitled 'Lichen' by British composer Matthew Sergeant for the electric lap-steel guitar. I love the instrument and I love this new challenging work.
 

If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why?

At this point in time I would nominate the American choreographer William Forsythe. Not only do I admire his sense of investigation and deep intellectualism but through ELISION I keep bumping into the impacts of his work upon young composers.

Feature

Lore LixenbergBritish mezzo-soprano Lore Lixenberg has performed widely in opera, concert repertoire and music-theatre, and worked with many leading composers. Her rich experiences in contemporary music include the lead role in Bent Sørensen’s opera Under Himlen at Copenhagen’s Royal Opera House as well as taking part in many projects with Théâtre de Complicité.

Lore Lixenberg appears on NMC performing works by Stuart MacRae, Deirdre Gribbin, and works from the NMC Songbook and Next Wave series. Click here for a full list of albums.

 

Lore Lixenberg Q&A

Can you share with us your top five contemporary composers and/or pieces?

Difficult question as this changes every 10 minutes according to what I've just performed or listened to!

1. Stockhausen: The 'Licht' cycle specifically 'Mittwoch' - This for me is 'The Ring Cycle' for the 20th century only with more humour.

2. Gerald Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest/The Bitter Tea of Petra Von Kant...well, everything really!

3. Frederic Acquaviva: Mess - it's so epic and such fun to sing.

4. John Cage Songbooks - I know,I know...written in 1970, but they create such a magical space.

5. Trevor Wishart - Globalalia

 

Where and what was your first musical performance?

The first one I remember was when I made the 'Orchard House Drama Club'. I was about 7 or 8 and had been digging a dirty great hole in a corner in the garden. I made an opera based around events in a Roman Villa belonging to Julius Caeser that I was convinced if I dug far enough I would find.

My first official performance was as a ladybird in the school production of Noye's Fludde, such a great enduring piece.

 

Any stories of unusual jobs you had prior to entering the music world?

I roasted coffee for a while. It was quite interesting because each sort of coffee bean makes a different sound when it acquires a certain quality of roast. The beans sing to you when they are ready!

I also, in a moment of unemployed desperation, learnt plumbing at my local college. I like the fact that no matter how sophisticated, digitalised and advanced our human society becomes, a plumber would always be in demand! The intake and outflow of water will always be viscerally analogue.

 

You’re stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what do you play to keep everyone entertained while you wait to be rescued?

Oh god, I hate lifts. I'm so claustrophobic! So maybe it would have to be a doctor that could keep me under medication. Perhaps I would bring Carl Djerassi back to life - he was brilliant fun as well as being a great doctor. I think Haydn would be great in a situation like that, I imagine him to have been a sunny, elegant, unflappable character, and perhaps Tesla? Maybe he could get the lift moving again? I wouldn't sing, I would lie on a bed while Haydn played and Carl mixed cocktails and Tesla could work on the situation. Or maybe I should sack Tesla and have an amazing shiatsu massage therapist in there instead!

 

What are you working on at the moment?

So many things on the boil! A recording project I'm working on is 'Nancarrow//Karaoke'. I've made arrangements of Nancarrow piano rolls for my voice, I'm multi-tracking them and when I perform them in concert I sing one voice live. The idea is to keep the consistency of timbre of the player piano but with the liveness that Nancarrow couldn't find in his lifetime. I was talking to David Alberman about the first time Nancarrow heard his music played in ensemble, apparently he nearly cried having been told his whole life that his music was unplayable.

I am working a lot at the moment with the younger generation of composers - Laurence Osborne, Stephen Crowe, and Alex Maguire are writing new pieces for me, and also the 'Next Wave' project with NMC and Sound and Music at The Sage Gateshead that is incredibly exciting.

Rolf Hind is also writing an opera for me based on the writings of Rumi for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. I'm very excited about that. It will include plenty of harp, inside of piano and percussion. Wonderful sonorities. Also the team of musicians he has working on this is really amazing.


If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why?

I would love to perform in an opera with Robert Lepage because he creates such wonderful spaces, in a music theatre piece at the Menaus Opera House in the Amazon. I would also like to collaborate with Dutch clothes designer Iris van Herpen on some interactive music-theatre costumes, and Korean architect Kimsooja on an opera scene with buildings using light and hologram. Those designs are just so gorgeous to be in.

Also on my with list is to to some duets with saxophonist Evan Parker.

Feature

British soprano Claire Booth has become internationally renowned both for her commitment to an extraordinary breadth of repertoire, and for the vitality and musicianship that she brings to the operatic stage and concert platform.

Claire Booth appears on NMC performing works by Ryan Wigglesworth, Charlotte Bray, Oliver Knussen and Alexander Goehr. Click here for a full list of albums.

 

Claire Booth Q&A

Can you share with us your top five contemporary composers and/or pieces?

I would say Oliver Knussen certainly. David del Tredici - he's out there on his own, but when I performed his Vintage Alice a few years ago, I just found myself laughing out loud at the sheer brilliance and bonkers of it all. Harrison Birtwistle is firmly on my list - from the operas to the scenas to the song cycles - everything of his that I've got to know is just so incredibly detailed. As a singer, it's often only the pieces you've sung that you feel passionate about - but watching the world premiere of The Minotaur at Covent Garden remains one of my night-out highlights. Discovering Kurtag's Kafka Fragments was a bit of an epiphany for me. This piece is incredible. Lastly I'd include Ryan Wigglesworth, both for the Augenlieder orchestral cycle I've had the absolute pleasure of performing. His writing is both beautiful and inventive, and it's as much of a joy to listen to as it is to perform.

 

Where and what was your first musical performance?

While at Oxford University I was involved in a number of baroque operas, hastily put together oratorios, and under-rehearsed recitals that were totally thrilling for us performers at least. In no particular order, they included Arne's Alfred, Webern's Op. 14 song cycle, Purcell's King Arthur, Britten's Rape of Lucretia, Alastair Nicholson's Mini-mal Opera, and Handel's Orlando.

 

Any stories of unusual jobs you had prior to entering the music world?

I don't know about unusual, but I tried my hand at a few things, fairly unsuccessfully. My career as a waiter was cut short when I was told I didn't have big enough hands to clear a table of ten in one go. I got involved in writing a website about relocating to England from abroad. Having pumped my friends and family for information, I ground to a halt and basically plagiarised Wikipedia. Not my finest hour.

 

You’re stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what do you play to keep everyone entertained while you wait to be rescued?

I often wish I'd been around during the first few decades of the 20th century - the explosion of creativity in so many art forms must have been so fantastic for those artists and audiences alike, so I think I'd have to put down Maurice Ravel. I know it might be a cliché, but getting stuck in a lift with Mozart would be absolute heaven. For starters, the guy's a genius and wouldn't it be so wonderful to share that space and soak up some of his brilliance, then if he's half as crazy as we're led to believe in Amadeus, then he would be an absolute hoot. Then finally I could put my sight-reading skills to good use and sing whatever he put in front of me. I'm sure he'd create a good opera about being stuck in a lift with three strangers! Maybe Ryan Gosling for number 3, so we could practice a bit of La La Land choreography...

 

What are you working on at the moment?

Christopher Glynn and I have just released a CD of Percy Grainger's folk music. His music is extremely heart on sleeve, but also at times incredibly refined - and this juxtaposition seems to echo the composer himself. Although Grainger divides people in fairly marmite terms, we were really intrigued to see what we could make of his music, and the result even sees me make a cameo appearance on the piano as we finish with a piano duet version of Country Gardens! At the other end of the scale I'm performing Poulenc's monologue Voix Humaine in a site specific production. This WNO production is coming to Aldeburgh this year. It's a raw experience for the audience being so up close and personal with the singer, and as I'm interacting with everyone there, every show is utterly different.


If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why?

Unless it's solo-singing in the bathroom, making music is a pretty collaborative affair to start with. One of the lovely things about any contract is the interaction with new artists, other singers, instrumentalists, directors... if you open your ears then you've got an opportunity to learn from anyone and everyone in the room. So, I don't think I can give a definitive answer here - but I'm an absolute fan of great people collaborating to produce great work.

 

photo: (c) Sven Arnstein

Feature

Iain-Burnside-11-c.-TallWall-Media-e1490280177917.jpgInterweaving roles as pianist and Sony Award-winning broadcaster with equal aplomb, Iain Burnside is a master programmer with an instinct for the telling juxtaposition, and has performed in recitals with many of the world’s leading singers.

Iain appears on NMC performing works by Brian Elias, Hugh Wood, Emily Hall, Richard Rodney Bennett, Thea Musgrave, amongst others. Click here for a full list of albums

 

Iain Burnside Q&A

Can you share with us your top five contemporary composers and/or pieces?

I'm hopelessly promiscuous in my affections for composers, living or dead, and tend to like most, or whatever’s on my piano at the moment. Recent happy collaborations include Tarik O’Regan, Brian Elias, Judith Bingham and Joe Cutler. Working out some of Michael Finnissy’s maths took me a while, but once he played for me it suddenly made sense.

 

Where and what was your first musical performance?

Glasgow Music Festival under 7 piano class, in my McGregor tartan kilt.

 

Any stories of unusual jobs you had prior to entering the music world?

My dad was a dentist, so before I went to university I spent several months in the despatch office of a dental lab, packaging up dentures. It was surprisingly enjoyable, and an awful lot easier than playing the piano.

 

You’re stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what do you play to keep everyone entertained while you wait to be rescued?

As a song person, I have to have Schubert. Then Mozart, to see how many of the Tourette’s theories were true. And Debussy, so I could gaze in wonder. If Schubert hummed something in the lift, I’d die happy.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently grappling with Andrew Watts' Countertenor Songbook, a series of astonishing pieces written specially for him. First outing is at the Aldeburgh Festival. Then I have to listen to first edits of a big recording project – 64 songs by Nikolai Medtner. That needs a different part of my ageing brain.
 

If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why? 

I’ve written 2 plays: one about Schubert, one about Ivor Gurney. If the Coen Brothers were interested in a film version, I’m free for lunch. Michael Haneke, too. What would they make of Gurney?

 

photo: (c) Tall Wall Media

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