I was inspired to discuss with sound the idea of involving supporters in the commissioning of new music through my involvement with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s innovative Sound Investment scheme. With the enthusiastic support and encouragement of BCMG, sound has now introduced its own commissioning scheme, soundbytes. This scheme enables subscribers, through modest monthly payments, to contribute to and become involved in the exciting process of commissioning composers in the creation of new works. In partnership with sound and others, we have a valuable opportunity to support both established and up-and-coming composers to develop new music.
Of course, the patronage of the wealthy was the mainstay and livelihood of many of the great composers of the past. What is different about this scheme, I think, is the collaborative effort and involvement of the wider audience who will greet the new works when they reach performance, with no need to be fantastically wealthy to take part.
In return for our support, we are kept informed about progress of the new work, receive invitations to rehearsals and to a special reception at the world première, with the opportunity to meet and talks with composer and musicians. It is exciting to follow the journey from commissioning to the first (and subsequent) performances!
I am delighted to have the opportunity to support a new work for harp and string quartet by Graham Fitkin, as I have heard his music both live and on recording. Both he and harpist Ruth Wall are passionate about creating new music, collaborating on many fronts with other musicians, while remaining approachable and encouraging of others - even amateurs like myself!
Next we will have a new addition to the Aberdeen Harp Project from Sally Beamish, who has lived in Scotland for the past 26 years. Her recent works include Seavaigers, a concerto for Scottish fiddle and harp which I heard performed by Christ Stout and Catriona McKay at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival a few years ago - a work that is really approachable and with a Scottish identity.
Then Dave Fennessy’s Sounding the Alarm, another exciting project between two leading ensembles, Scotland’s Red Note and Belgium’s I Solisti del Vento.
I can’t wait to hear all three premiered for sound festival 2016! Meantime, a group of harpists and other musicians are planning a concert in Migvie Church, hoping to inspire others to become involved in commissioning new music. All proceeds from this concert will be used to commission a new work for the Aberdeen Harp Project.
So why not help financially support composers in the creation of new work? The soundbytes scheme enables involvement through purchase of a soundbyte for as little as £10 per month over 1 year. Some of the tastiest bytes to be had!