Beck's ground breaking move
An interesting statistic came to light recently which claimed that of the 75,000 music-writers – composers, songwriters and lyricists – that are members of the UK royalty collecting society, PRS for Music, only 14% are women.
I think that this could relate to other genres rather than contemporary classical where there is a lot of exciting new music being created. Part of it was even discussed in breakfast time on radio 4 and there, it was emphasised quite correctly I think, that it is not so much whether they are women composers but whether they are good composers.
I remember quite vividly being told by my professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, that he felt it was more important for his male students to succeed as they had to support a family where as most of the women when they left would give up anyway, get married and have babies. Well not this person! Incidentally, I was also told that I would have a much better chance of succeeding as a classical clarinettist, if I did not speak with a Derbyshire accent and if I went to an Anglican Church rather than a Methodist Church - but hey that was a long time ago!
It did not deter me because in the end it was the playing of music that was important to me and let's face it to the listener as well. I suppose what can make it more difficult is that not enough women get in at the highest level in order to influence decisions.
I am still one to support good compositions and good performers whether they are male or female. However, what is important to us at tutti.co.uk and on the impulse music website is to support composers and performers so that they are at least seen and heard. Just to even the balance a bit here is a link to women composers of a great range of styles on the tutti website.
I was very sorry to hear today that Marie Hayward Segal has passed away. Whenever I think of Marie I think of her laughter. She was on several musical committees with me and we would meet at various events and I would always be glad to see her as she would brighten up every occasion that she attended. Marie was a dramatic soprano and distinguished opera singer performing at the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and in Europe. She has died at the age of 72 and the music profession will greatly miss her. She is survived by her son Benjamin and her grandson George who was born just after her death.
I have been listening to music by composers who won British Composer Awards in 2011 and it is great to get a flavour of what is being written in the UK now.
There is so much inspiring new music around but it is not always that easy to know where to begin.
All of the compositions for the British Composer Awards had to have a performance in the UK in the year before the Awards take place.
Have a look at some of these extracts by winning composers not of the winning works themselves, apart from the Sorensen which is the actual winning composition. I think there is some really exciting music here.
Outreach category won by Graham Fitkin
An extract from Log for 6 electric pianos
Vocal category won by Huw Watkins
An extract from his Violin Concert - a stunning performance by Alina Ibragimova
International category won by Bent Sorensen
An extract from the Piano Concerto, La Mattina
Wind Band or Brass Band won by Lucy Pankhurst
An extract from Wired for Brass Band
Stage Works won by Orlando Gough
An extract from Ariel Songs performed by Shout
tutti has CDs of music by many past and present British Composer Awards winners including from the above, Huw Watkins and Graham Fitkin. Well worth hearing more of. Hope you like them as much as we do.
It seems like ages ago now that I was asked to write a biography on my fellow clarinettist and friend Georgina Dobree for the online edition of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. It has been published this month at www.oxforddnb.com. The stuff of biography is by its nature the achievements of a lifetime but somehow you cannot convey the friendship and the laughter and the kindness of a person in such a formal setting. As well as being a terrific clarinettist, editor and publisher, Georgina was known by people in the clarinet world for her parties. Whenever there was a visiting clarinettist or bassett horn player in London there would inevitably be a party in her home to which all the clarinet fraternity would be invited too. Georgina in the 50's and 60's at the Darmstadt Festival intriduced more ground breaking contemporary music with composers such as Peter Maxwell Davies, Oliver Messiaen, Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez than most players will do in a lifetime. She was meticulous in researching editing and performing early music as well as commissioning new works. She died in 1998 having greatly enriched the clarinet repertoire and having been a wonderful supporter of music and players alike.
The Purcell connection was discovered once again towards the end of 2011. This time the seeker was a member of staff for The Choral Foundation - a charity raising funding for choral scholarships for choristers of the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court. Purcell was trained as a chorister there in the mid 1600s. Having found me as a descendant, I was invited to the service led by Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, to celebrate 400 years of the King James Bible. The choir is unfunded and the choristers are drawn from local schools and directed by Carl Jackson whose post is also voluntary. Hence the need for Foundation backing to secure essentials and a little more if possible. The Chapel Royal has many features from Purcell's time although sadly little of the original organ. (Purcell was Keeper of the Pipes.) Speaking of organs and organ music - here's an interesting CD. Also, try this unusual sheet music item for organ. I've sent a Mag and Nunc to the choirmaster, so we'll see what comes of that!
I know this news was only the blog before last and was there a very long time(!) but IE wouldn't let me into the blogger. Now I am back courtesy of FireFox! A quick update on Purcell connections. It's amazing who finds you - like the German television station that does an equivalent of 'who do you think you are?' but starting from the standpoint of a famous antecedant (HP) and an ordinary descendant (SR). Anyway, I was invited to appear on the TV show which in Germany is a rather formal affair. There was a bit of a quiz on who my ancestor might be and originally they thought I was Dutch, so my German accent must have been a bit gravelly (yes, I gave most of the interview in German, much to their surprise!). Then they gave a potted biography of Uncle Henry and his achievements and then I was interviewed and they played some of my music. It was in Baden Baden and we had a great weekend making the show and then taking the waters! Didn't visit the casino which apparently is quite famous but stayed in a wonderful hotel. I can recommend a visit. More Purcell family news soon.