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 powerful and inspiring thing for us to consider as an organisation.
We work with composers who are creating new work across and between many genres: contemporary classical, sound art, improvisation, electro-acoustic, installations, multimedia and much else. We also work to build audiences for new music across the country in an entirely data-driven way, using data analytics and the insight it generates to test and challenge existing assumptions about how audiences discover and enjoy new music.
In both the artists we work with, and the audiences we communicate with, we increasingly observe a greater openness, and curiosity to explore new music across a wide range of forms, than is all too often offered or reflected by the industry. At a recent meeting of composers that we convened, one of the composers commented, “so many people in the arts want to put us in boxes, but we don’t see ourselves or our music in that way.”
Some of our best Sound and Music moments are when we bring composers we’re working with together, and see the new connections and friendships that are forged between them. We also see this fresh curiosity and openness about music spill over into many of the programmes created through our Composer-Curator scheme and the audiences that attend them. It seems to me that some of the most vibrant new music programming, and encounters between composers, artists and audiences, take place when artists are in charge of the experience.
That being said, we have so far to go – as an organisation, and as an industry – to broaden the range of artists we work with much, much further. Women, deaf and disabled people, black and minority ethnic individuals and low-income groups remain chronically under-represented across the arts and this is an artistic as well as social justice issue, since artistic talent is not more prevalent in one section of the population. How many potentially great composers and creative artists never get the chance to develop their talent? Addressing this is a priority for Sound and Music and I will be writing more about this in due course. In the meantime, of course, please get in touch with any thoughts or comments.