A blog from the Sound and Music Team



29 October 2020

On Black History Month 2020

This is the third consecutive year that Sound and Music has released data regarding applicants to our programmes from backgrounds who have experienced racism. It is still surprisingly rare for organisations to be open about such data. Which is a shame, since an honest acknowledgement about where we are as organisations, and where we are […]


5 June 2020

We paused, we must now act – how fair access has to be at the heart of the new normal

On 25 February 2020, Sound and Music launched our Fair Access Principles. Developed and tested over many months with composers and partner organisations, their aim is to remove the many non-musical barriers that can prevent composers from fairly accessing artist development opportunities and programmes. Less than a month later, the UK went into lockdown, causing […]


6 March 2020

Where Next for Gender Equality?

Every year since 2016, Sound and Music has marked International Women’s Day and the month of March by using it as a springboard to showcase the work and lives of ground-breaking, inspiring and significant composers past and present across our programmes, websites and in our communications. These composers are women (we’ve had an interesting discussion […]


8 March 2019

On International Women’s Day 2019

By Susanna Eastburn, Chief Executive, Sound and Music A version of this blog also appeared in the Guardian on the 8 March 2019. Two years ago today, Sound and Music (the UK’s national organisation for new music) made a public pledge to achieve gender equality across all of our work with composers and artists, under […]


6 March 2017

50:50 by 2020

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, Sound and Music make the following commitment: By March 2020, at least 50% of the composers we work with will identify as women ***************************************************************** It’s hard to pinpoint cause and effect, but in conversations with other female leaders in the sector, a number of us have noticed a creeping […]


22 April 2015

Breadth Charge

An important principle for Sound and Music is that of breadth. We proactively seek to work across a range of styles and genres, scales of work, and geographical locations (London/not-London; urban/rural; established venues/new contexts…). This seemed a natural evolution for us, given our history, but as time has passed it has become a much more […]


2 February 2015

“I thought all composers were dead and with a beard” – Susanna Eastburn on our second Composers’ Conference

What’s the collective noun for “composer’? This was a question we at Sound and Music found ourselves asking as we embarked on our second Composers’ Conference, just before Christmas. 55 composers attended, all of them directly involved with one or other of Sound and Music’s programmes. We organised it so that the composers themselves could […]


22 July 2014

Why are there so few female composers?

One of the most striking aspects of the commentary around Judith Weir’s appointment as Master of the Queen’s Music has been just how much of it has been about her gender – as if somehow her being a woman comes first, and her being a composer comes second. And yet her appointment offers a splendid […]


16 July 2014

A call to action for female nominations for the British Composer Awards

Please can we move away from all-male composer award-winners? Friday is the deadline for the British Composer Awards. Last year, all the award-winners were male. Recently the Royal Philharmonic Society announced the five 2014 winners of their Composition Prize for under-29 years old composers, and they are all male too. I am not questioning the […]


25 June 2014

An open letter in response to Michael Church’s review of the UK premiere of Italian composer Luca Francesconi’s opera Quartetto (on at the Royal Opera House until 28 June).

Expert, intelligent discussion about art may not have the mass appeal of, say, football, but, if we believe that art is an important part of a civilised society, then it should be an integral part of public discourse. However, Michael Church’s one-star review published in the Independent on 20 June shows neither expertise nor intelligence. […]


18 June 2014

Why I Love Per Nørgård’s Music

On a ledge in my hallway at home is a knobbly flint, decorated by a splodge of white paint and a ribbon threaded through a hole in the stone, to which is attached a luggage label inscribed with the following message: “To Susanna! With love & good wishes from Per, the tired sheep & Langeland’s […]


3 June 2013

The Language of New Music

At Sound and Music, we use the word “composer” freely to mean “creator of original new music or sound”. We do this because we work across the full range of new music and the people who create it, including the increasing number who may defy ready categorisation. (Incidentally, our definition of “new music” is similarly […]


8 November 2012

Spotlight: Susanna Eastburn on Richard Ayres

I first heard Richard Ayres’ music in the 1999 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (two years before I took over the directorship from Richard Steinitz) in a beautiful programme by Apartment House of works by Richard Rijnvos (another important first encounter for me), Christopher Fox, and Richard. On the programme was Richard’s piece no.24 (NONcerto for […]