A funny thing happens when you see the human being responsible for new unfamiliar music. Sounds you assumed would alienate you when they are first introduced are given more of a fighting chance.
Tonight’s BASCA awards celebrating new music is a case in point.
Forget everything you’ve been conditioned to think of as music, and marvel at the living breathing entities who have conjured up the art they unleash.
Through their creations we hear an entirely different world: a personal statement on the world as they experience it.
I think most of us overlook that kind of achievement.
It’s not that I want to compose or write lyrics. I don’t envy these people. Instead I want to explore what it is that motivates them, learn how they translate their inspiration into something tangible, and what it feels like when they hear their creations played back to them.
OK. Fair enough. Maybe if I’m going understand that, I’m going to have to write something myself.
Before tonight’s awards at the British Museum I spent 45 minutes interviewing one of the recipients of this year’s British Composer Award for Inspiration. I’ll put the unedited interview up online early next year (my laptop died directly after the interview).
But, what I recall from the experience with Nigel Osborne was his spirit, determination, and effortless charm. A man with a gentle voice and an incredibly warm heart. One who loves his work, believes passionately in the impact of music on all of us, and who made me wish just a little bit that I had been better at composition than my embarrassingly imitative GCSE coursework turned out to be.
“What I do is capture the feelings I’m experiencing in a moment and communicate them through music so that others experience a similar emotion.”
That’s (basically) what Nigel said. All matter of fact. Like he was reminding me it was quarter past four on a Wednesday afternoon.
That’s the pitch. That’s every composers pitch to their audience. The challenge to their listener: listen to my representation of the world as I hear it and experience the world as I do.
That makes new music a tantalising opportunity, one that transcends the preoccupations of the mainstream hand-wringing classical music sector biting their bottom lip about ticket sales for performances of standard repertoire.
The winners of the BASCA Composer Awards 2017 were:
Solo or Duo: Deborah Pritchard for Inside Colour
Choral: Andrew Hamilton for Proclamation of the Republic
Community or Educational Project: Brian Irvine for Anything but Bland
Chamber Ensemble: Rebecca Saunders for Skin
Wind Band: Kenneth Hesketh for In Ictu Oculi
Amateur or Young Performers: Kerry Andrew for Who We Are
Small Chamber: Robin Haigh for Feyre Foreste
Contemporary Jazz Composition: Cevanne Horrocks-Hopoyian for Muted Lines
Sonic Art: Kathy Hinde for Luminous Birds
Stage Works: Philip Venables for 4.48 Psychosis
Orchestral: Emily Howard for Torus (Concerto for Orchestra)
British Composer Award for Inspiration: Nigel Osborne MBE
British Composer Award for Innovation: Shiva Feshareki