CATEGORIES

Feature

NMC has released almost 300 albums since its inception in 1989, but do you know the people working behind the scenes, making this musical magic happen? The NMC team has evolved over the years, but one thing has remained constant: it’s a small team. Today it consists of 4 full-time and one part-time members of staff, working tirelessly to ensure that new music enthusiasts everywhere get their supply of bold and innovative new releases. We are devoted to our organisation and the first advocates for broadening new music’s horizons. Here is a little bit more about us.


Anne RushtonAnne Rushton, Executive Director


How did you come to NMC? I’d known about NMC from the early nineties, owning some recordings and crossing paths with NMC and getting to know Colin as I was then running the Collins Classics label. I joined the team back in 2003 – though the extent of what we now do does seem unrecognisable compared to those days! 


What do you like best about your job?  Working with a great team and developing exciting new projects – and hearing and learning new things every day!


In another life, what job would you be doing?  Human Rights Lawyer


If you could spend time with any composer, who would it be and what would you do?  Stravinsky and go to the ballet!


What couldn’t you live without? My sense of touch – I’d miss hugging those I love, playing my violin and digging in the allotment.


If you had to choose an alarm clock ringtone, would it be Gerald Barry’s smashing plates in The Importance of Being Earnest or John Tomlison’s rendition of the Green Knight in Birtwistle’s Gawain? Plates!


What is your favourite biscuit? My daughter’s homemade cookies


How do you take your tea? Often


Clotted cream on jam or jam on clotted cream? Is this even a question – cream on jam, of course!


Are you a cat or a dog person? Both – plus rabbit and fish!

 

Eleanor WilsonEleanor (Ellie) Wilson - General Manager 


How did you come to NMC?  My first introduction to NMC was at university. I had to borrow a copy of Jonty Harrison’s Klang from the library to study for my composition class. I came to NMC after working at Hyperion Records for nine years.


What do you like best about your job?  Variety. I’m a jack-of-all-trades – you kind of have to be when you work for a small organisation on a budget!


In another life, what job would you be doing? An environmental scientist, or more likely a garden designer.


If you could spend time with any composer, who would it be and what would you do? Folk song collecting with Ralph Vaughan Williams.


What couldn’t you live without? Mushrooms. Seriously, being a vegetarian they are in nearly everything I eat!


If you had to choose an alarm clock ringtone, would it be Gerald Barry’s smashing plates in The Importance of Being Earnest or John Tomlison’s rendition of the Green Knight in Birtwistle’s Gawain? Gerald Barry’s plates! Maybe we could create an NMC branded alarm clock in the shape of a plate that you throw across the room to turn off.


What is your favourite biscuit? Cantucci, or the humble Mcvities digestive dipped in coffee!


How do you take your tea? Builders tea – tiny bit of milk, no sugar.


Clotted cream on jam or jam on clotted cream? Clotted cream on jam


Are you a cat or a dog person? 100% dogs. Cats are evil.


Alex WrightAlex Wright - Development and Partnerships Manager


How did you come to NMC? I joined NMC in 2016 from Northern Ballet in Leeds. Prior to that, I was at Birmingham Contemporary Music Group for 4 years and before that, I studied for a music degree at the University of Sheffield.


What do you like best about your job? I enjoy the variety of my role, split between fundraising and managing education projects. Apart from all the wonderful music we get to hear, meeting and talking to so many different people is my favourite part of the job – whether that’s donors, listeners, composers, teachers or musicians. 


In another life, what job would you be doing? Working for a record label is a dream job, but if I had to choose something else to do for a living then I’d love to be a composer (writing/performing noisy electronic music). Away from music, if I had more of a creative eye then I think being an architect would be fascinating.


If you could spend a day with a composer, who would it be and what would you do? I’d spend a day with Olivier Messiaen bird-watching and sketching bird-song.


What couldn’t you live without? My glasses – I’m nearly blind without them. 


If you had to choose an alarm clock ringtone, would it be Gerald Barry’s smashing plates in The Importance of Being Earnest or John Tomlinson’s rendition of the Green Knight in Birtwistle’s Gawain? The 40 smashing plates from Earnest. I’d need all 40 to get me out of bed most mornings. 


What is your favourite biscuit? Chocolate covered hob nob. 


How do you take your tea? Usually tea first then milk.

 

Clotted cream on jam or jam on clotted cream? Clotted cream on jam.


Are you a cat or a dog person? I have an app called ‘Cat-swipe’ on my phone that provides a never-ending stream of cat pictures, read into that what you will… 


Rachel WilmotRachel Wilmot - Label Assistant


How did you come to NMC? I studied Communications and Popular Music at university and really enjoyed my music industry modules so I knew I wanted to work in that business. I started looking for opportunities in the music industry and came across a position at NMC. It seemed like the perfect label for me as NMC is a charity and I had a background in the third sector so I could combine my knowledge of that with my interest in music.


What do you like best about your job? Co-ordinating recording sessions, from researching venues and accommodation for artists to making sure everyone is happy and things are running smoothly on the day.


In another life, what job would you be doing? I was originally going to university to study journalism but changed my mind on results day and asked to switch to a music course. So, I would probably be a journalist/writer.


If you could spend a day with any composer, who would it be and what would you do? Go for lunch with Imogen Holst and listen to all her amazing stories - reading Colin’s memories of her on our blog she seemed like such an interesting woman.


What couldn’t you live without? Headphones and lip balm.


If you had to choose an alarm clock ringtone, would it be Gerald Barry’s smashing plates in The Importance of Being Earnest or John Tomlison’s rendition of the Green Knight in Birtwistle’s Gawain? Gerald Barry smashing plates because I wouldn’t be able to sleep through it!


What is your favourite biscuit? Chocolate hobnob


How do you take your tea? Just a little bit of milk


Clotted cream on jam or jam on clotted cream? Jam on clotted cream


Are you a cat or a dog person? Both!


Lucile GasserLucile Gasser - Development Assistant


How did you come to NMC? My last year of Foreign Languages Applied to International Business Master’s degree involved doing a 6-month internship. I wanted to do it in the music industry and I came across NMC’s website, which looked like a very interesting organisation, being a charity as well as a record label. I met with Anne and a few months later I started my internship and (almost) never left – I did run off for about a year to travel but was lucky to be able to come back to NMC when I returned.


What do you like best about your job? Being in touch with our supporters and making sure they’re enjoying their association with us. It sometimes feels like they don’t realise the impact their donation has on NMC but we literally couldn’t do it without them. They’re all very passionate about music and it’s always great to hear about the history they have with NMC.


In another life, what job would you be doing? Probably something manual. My grandad was a carpenter and I always liked being around him when he worked, so maybe that.


If you could spend a day with any composer, who would it be and what would you do? Musical saw shopping with Quinta.


What couldn’t you live without? My books, they’re my home away from home and I go back to my favourites when I need comfort.


If you had to choose an alarm clock ringtone, would it be Gerald Barry’s smashing plates in The Importance of Being Earnest or John Tomlison’s rendition of the Green Knight in Birtwistle’s Gawain? Definitely plates, The Importance of Being Earnest is one of my favourite albums in the NMC catalogue.


What is your favourite biscuit? Caramel digestives


How do you take your tea? With gradually increasing amount of milk throughout the day – I can’t take too much caffeine.


Clotted cream on jam or jam on clotted cream? I would tend to do it French style (we put butter then jam on bread), so I’d say jam on clotted cream.


Are you a cat or a dog person? Dog, I don’t like how you never know what cats are thinking.

 

It is passionate new music supporters like you that make our work so worthwhile. It is thanks to all of you that we can continue our work and that we do it with passion and dedication. You support NMC’s work by purchasing albums directly from our online store, and by being a part of our loyal Friends. Without the support of individual donors, NMC would not be able to release as much new music as we currently do. So, thank you very much to all our donors and customers for your support!


If you’d like to take your support of NMC further by becoming a Friend or making a donation towards our activities, please visit our Support Us page or contact us and we’ll be happy to be in touch!

Feature

Introducing our Next Wave 2 composer: Robin Haigh

Jack SheenNext Wave is a partnership project between NMC Recordings, Sound and Music and Sage Gateshead, designed to support and promote composers in higher education as they transition into the professional music industry. The following Q&A is extracted from the British Music Collection website as part of their New Voices series.

Robin Haigh is a composer from London, whose music has been performed across the UK, as well as in continental Europe and America. In 2017 he won a British Composer Award for his piece In Feyre Foreste for five recorder players, and received the Eric Coates Prize for his orchestral piece Movado. Robin studied at Goldsmiths University of London with Dmitri Smirnov, and then at the Royal Academy of Music with Edmund Finnis and David Sawer. While at the Academy, he participated in lessons and masterclasses with Magnus Lindberg, Bent Sorensen, Oliver Knussen, Judith Weir, and Michael Finnissy.

 

Robin's piece Zorthern features on the Next Wave 2 album which is available to pre-order here.

 

His piece will be performed at the New Year New Artists concert at Sage Gateshead on 27 January 2018. For more information and tickets click here.

 

There’s an element of humour in your final piece (and title)! How would you like an audience to react to the work and how do you expect them to?

I've always been interested in the idea of humour in music, though for a little while my output became rather serious, which I think had an impact on the quality of some of the pieces written around that time. When I was able to really try and embrace humorous elements in my music again, as in 'Zorthern' and also my recorder quintet 'In Feyre Foreste', it was something of a relief artistically. It can be quite stressful writing very serious pieces all the time! I think it's a dangerous game to worry about how an audience will react to your work; all i'm thinking about is whether I enjoy it myself, and then I can only hope that some members of the audience might have enough in common with me to enjoy it as well.

Zorthern combines elements of folk and classical music. What are your musical influences, what do you listen to when you’re not composing?

Most people who have had anything to do with me know that I adore the music of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, though I wouldn't really say this manifests itself in my work at the moment. I'm a big fan of composers like Purcell, Mozart, Wagner, Strauss, Stravinsky, Berg, Britten, and Feldman, and of more recent composers like Unsuk Chin, Andrew Norman, Gerald Barry, Thomas Ades, Sky Macklay, and Oliver Knussen. People often seem quite confused when I say that I only really listen to contemporary classical music; I don't have anything against other genres, i'd just rather chill out to Birtwistle's The Triumph of Time, which I can understand might sound like an odd thing to some! However, when I find myself writing for an instrument that's not not often heard in concert halls (i.e. one from a folk tradition), I like to spend a lot of time familiarising myself with the music 'native' to that instrument. So, when I was writing Zorthern, I found myself listening to '200 Accordion Hits'!

 

Read the full Q&A on the British Music Collection website.

 

Find out more about our Next Wave 2 project.

 

This work was created as part of Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2 programme. It was recorded and premiered in collaboration with Sage Gateshead and NMC Recordings. Next Wave 2 was funded by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and The Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation.

 

Sound and Music logo   Sage Gateshead    RNS

 

Feature

Introducing our Next Wave 2 composer: Joanna Ward

Jack SheenNext Wave is a partnership project between NMC Recordings, Sound and Music and Sage Gateshead, designed to support and promote composers in higher education as they transition into the professional music industry. The following Q&A is extracted from the British Music Collection website as part of their New Voices series.

Joanna Ward is a composer from Newcastle upon Tyne, currently reading undergraduate music at Cambridge University and studying with Patrick Brennan. Her works have been performed, commissioned, and workshopped by various ensembles and organisations from around the country, including the Royal Northern Sinfonia, St John’s College Cambridge Chapel Choir, Helios Collective (who premiered her opera hunger), and Gesualdo 6. Joanna is an alumna of the NYO Composers and Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme.

 

Joanna's piece to think at the sun features on the Next Wave 2 album which is available to pre-order here.

 

Her piece will be performed at the New Year New Artists concert at Sage Gateshead on 27 January 2018. For more information and tickets click here.

 

You're local to Gateshead and have a history with our partner, Sage Gateshead as an employee, young musician and composer. How has it been for you returning as part of this scheme and working with Royal Northern Sinfonia, your "home orchestra"?

It has been so lovely and rewarding to be working with musicians from the RNS in a professional capacity, and in the beautiful Sage building which I really do regard as a kind of second home (what with the amount of time I spent there between a part time job, two choirs, and full days at Sunday weekend school!). Returning to Sage as a composer makes me feel all kinds of nostalgia about the weekends spent wracking my brains about what to write next, in practice rooms looking out on the Tyne; clearly all those hours did something for me! Sage is such a peaceful place, unique in its design and location, and periodically returning there for Next Wave from Uni has been really wonderful in giving me space as a creative person to breathe and feel relaxed, something which can feel tricky in the academic confines of Cambridge.

The Next Wave scheme has also given me increased admiration and appreciation for RNS. Their incredible generosity with their skills and time, supporting young people making new music, makes me proud that they are my "home orchestra". In addition, what they do as a representative of high level music making in the North East - a neglected area in terms of attention and funding, in the tragically London-centric music scene - is so important and special. I'm very honoured to now be a part of that representation!

 

You draw on the poetry of Allen Ginsberg for this piece. What is it that appeals to you in his work, and how do you express or respond to that musically?

I really enjoy how direct Ginsberg's poetry is, whilst also being very evocative and vivid. Listening to or watching him perform his poetry is especially interesting to me as he delivers it in such an unfussy, almost un-emotive, but still very visceral way, which I kind of love - that his poetry is met with an aesthetically similar approach in its delivery, meaning its everyday-ness is communicated so effectively.

I also appreciate that his poetry is something which is meant to be spoken and heard, something which is reflected in my own work.

My piece 'to think at the sun' draws directly on phrases from the poem Transcription of Organ Music, using different methods to translate these phrases into musical ideas which I then transformed, layered and looped to create the whole piece. In a way, I like to think I've 'transcribed' the poem into music through my own personal viewpoint. I tried to be efficient and minimal with how much material I chose in the first place, to create a piece which is direct in a similar way to Ginsberg's delivery of his poetry, avoiding traditionally explicit or overtly fussy modes of expression. I also tried to capture some of the ephemeral, and at times delicate nature of this specific poem by focusing on blurring and refining different textures throughout, something which this ensemble lent itself very well to.

 

Read the full Q&A on the British Music Collection website.

 

Find out more about our Next Wave 2 project.

 

This work was created as part of Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2 programme. It was recorded and premiered in collaboration with Sage Gateshead and NMC Recordings. Next Wave 2 was funded by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and The Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation.

 

Sound and Music logo   Sage Gateshead    RNS

 

Feature

Introducing our Next Wave 2 composer: Jack Sheen

Jack SheenNext Wave is a partnership project between NMC Recordings, Sound and Music and Sage Gateshead, designed to support and promote composers in higher education as they transition into the professional music industry. The following Q&A is extracted from the British Music Collection website as part of their New Voices series.

Jack Sheen is a conductor and composer from Manchester. In 2017 at the age of 23 he became the RNCM's youngest ever Junior Fellow in Conducting appointed by Sir Mark Elder, through which he enjoys a close relationship with the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Jack's music has been performed by orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Aurora Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata; ensembles including Apartment House, EXAUDI, Plus Minus Ensemble, and Psappha; and commissioned by organisations such as London Contemporary Music Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, and BBC Young Artists Day.

 

Jack's piece Found features on the Next Wave 2 album which is available to pre-order here.

 

His piece will be performed at the New Year New Artists concert at Sage Gateshead on 27 January 2018. For more information and tickets click here.

 

 

 

The ensemble for Next Wave 2 is an unusual grouping in terms of instrumentation. Your final score is for female voice, two violins, audio and ensemble (open instrumentation). What would be your ideal instrumentation for this work, if indeed there is one?

My ideal instrumentation would be about seven choirs and a string orchestra submerged underwater, accompanied by some clarinets and alto flutes -  all slightly detuned and played without vibrato - situated offstage. There’d be a chamber organ in there as well maybe. The audio would ideally come from as many Nokia 3310s I could find/afford suspended from cranes around various cities in the North of England, which would then transmit the sounds live into the performance space. The violin duet at the end would stay the same. The piece would also ideally last several hours.

 

Do you think the word composer adequately reflects you an artist? If not, what word does?

Yeah it’s fine. Or composer/conductor, conductor/composer, all that.

In general I think we could develop a more liberal idea about what a composer is and what their practice can involve. Nowadays there are a lot of composers who are using all sorts of other media and techniques in their work which extend so far beyond composing in the ‘sitting-at-a-desk-and-writing-down-notated-music-on-manuscript-paper’ sense of the word. I think it’s a shame that as soon as they reach outside of an obviously ‘musical sphere’ they become identified as something else. It’s not music anymore, it’s not our problem, we don’t have to engage with it, let alone take it seriously, or support it.

 

Read the full Q&A on the British Music Collection website.

 

Find out more about our Next Wave 2 project.

 

This work was created as part of Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2 programme. It was recorded and premiered in collaboration with Sage Gateshead and NMC Recordings. Next Wave 2 was funded by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and The Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation.

 

Sound and Music logo   Sage Gateshead    RNS

 

Feature

Introducing our Next Wave 2 composer: Alex J Hall

Alex J HallNext Wave is a partnership project between NMC Recordings, Sound and Music and Sage Gateshead, designed to support and promote composers in higher education as they transition into the professional music industry. The following Q&A is extracted from the British Music Collection website as part of their New Voices series.

Alex J Hall is a composer, singer, and musician based in London, UK. Alex is currently undertaking a Masters in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music, having graduated with first-class honours from Guildhall School of Music and Drama, winning both the Edmund Rubbra prize for composition and the Rose Lawrence prize for highest academic achievement.

Alex's piece Luminalia features on the Next Wave 2 album which is available to pre-order here.

 

His piece will be performed at the New Year New Artists concert at Sage Gateshead on 27 January 2018. For more information and tickets click here.

 

 

You worked with multi-instrumentalist Quinta on this programme and her multi-instrumental capabilities became a central element of your final work. How did the collaboration become a part of the final piece?

Quinta was very interesting to work with from day one - she passed on a lot of information on what she likes to play and music that she appreciated and then specifics all the instruments she plays - that all fed into the final piece, although again some if it in very subtle ways. My original intention was for a Viola and Musical Saw solo role, But actually the approach I ended up going with was evoking the sound of the musical saw without actually using it; the violin trio play lots of glissandos which are right out of the playbook of the saw. And the solo role which Quinta plays is perhaps a more subtle spatial one than I originally conceived of; As the central violin she passes around these patterns and idea to the violins on the left and right of her, like a rotating sculpture where the centre keeps the whole structure balanced.

 

You completed your undergraduate studies and began a Masters degree in the past year. How has the Next Wave 2 programme influenced your studies?

In lots of ways - alot of them subtle. I think talking with other composers is always a good way to question your own practice (which is very healthy). I think (off the top of my head) my engraving abilities, my aesthetic ideals and concepts about form and sketching have all been affected for the better, mostly through conversations. Alongside that, I think the most immediate effect, which has definitely seeped into my coursework, is creating aurally interesting effects - always sparked by the music - in very musical ways on the page for the musicians such that it becomes fun to play. It is something I appreciate in the music of composers like Andrew Norman, and I feel the ending of my piece especially has an element of this. But that has transferred directly into 5 of the pieces I have written since starting the programme, and it came as a result of something I attempted, and failed to do well, in the first workshop.

 

Read the full Q&A on the British Music Collection website.

 

Find out more about our Next Wave 2 project.

 

This work was created as part of Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2 programme. It was recorded and premiered in collaboration with Sage Gateshead and NMC Recordings. Next Wave 2 was funded by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and The Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation.

 

Sound and Music logo   Sage Gateshead    RNS

 

Feature

Introducing our Next Wave 2 composer: Peter Wilson

Emma WildeNext Wave is a partnership project between NMC Recordings, Sound and Music and Sage Gateshead, designed to support and promote composers in higher education as they transition into the professional music industry. The following Q&A is extracted from the British Music Collection website as part of their New Voices series.

Peter Wilson grew up near the Dandenong Ranges in Australia. He studied dance at The Australian Ballet School, then Composition at the Royal College of Music. Peter has worked internationally as a dancer, and now practices as a composer for concert hall, theatre, art installations, and dance. In addition to composing for Lore Lixenberg and the Royal Northern Sinfonia for ‘Next Wave 2’, he has worked collaboratively with Peter Neville and Richard Haynes (ELISION), The Australian Ballet dancers, Gildas Quartet, and Kaldor Public Arts.

Peter's piece A sweet, wild note features on the Next Wave 2 album which is available to pre-order here.

 

His piece will be performed at the New Year New Artists concert at Sage Gateshead on 27 January 2018. For more information and tickets click here.

 

 

What was your route into composing?

Inspirations:

Age six: A-minor triads

Age ten: Phillip Glass

Age twelve: Yann Tiersen

Age thirteen: John Williams

Age sixteen: Ennio Morricone

Age twenty: Thomas Ades

Age twenty-two: Brian Ferneyhough

Now: Birds and waterfalls

I was doing a secondment with a contemporary dance company called Chunky Move when I met Richard Gill, veteran music educator and (then) artistic director of the Victorian Opera. He introduced me to contemporary music and helped me to find my feet in the music world.

 

You trained as a ballet dancer before studying composition. Do you think your experience as a dancer informs your approach to composition and your musical style in general?

I think that all music is a product of the composer’s personality, memories, and experiences. For most of my life I’ve been trained to respond physically and expressively to music, and this has definitely impacted upon the type of music that I write. I went through a period of trying to exploit this fact however - to push the physicality of my music as far as possible - and this, for the most part, didn’t work too well. So I’m not sure that my recent compositions are ‘informed’ by dance in any conceptual sense. More just that dance has been an integral part of my life, and I write the compositions that I write because I am who I am.

 

Read the full Q&A on the British Music Collection website.

 

Find out more about our Next Wave 2 project.

 

This work was created as part of Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2 programme. It was recorded and premiered in collaboration with Sage Gateshead and NMC Recordings. Next Wave 2 was funded by Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust and The Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation.

 

Sound and Music logo   Sage Gateshead    RNS

 

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