The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors (BASCA) is delighted to announce the sponsorship of 3 songwriting awards to students at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP).
The awards were presented at ICMP’s Graduation Event which took place at The Mermaid Theatre on Saturday 21 November 2015. The event also featured a keynote speech from Dr Julia Jones and entertainment from graduating students.
The BASCA sponsored songwriting awards were presented by Head of Songwriting Sophie Daniels and Programme Leader Jonathan Whiskerd and given to the following students:
- Jane Fraser for Best Overall
- Liam Short for Most Improved
- Chloe Boleti for Most Improved
Jonathan Whiskerd’s inspiring speech on the day:
Dear Songwriting graduands,
Today I want to talk about uncertainty.
When recognising achievement on occasions like this, it’s tempting to focus just on outcomes. On results. Whilst it is of course rewarding to do this, I think it’s also important to consider the unique individual process that led each of you to your finished work. I don’t think any of you will disagree with me that uncertainty will have featured heavily along the way.
Today I would like us to celebrate this. Let’s celebrate all the song drafts you brought in and shared when you hated what you’d done, the risks you took in rehearsals and the times you wrote melodies that didn’t connect with anyone. Let’s celebrate the lyrics you wrote and felt embarrassed of, every ridiculously complex chord progression you were determined to make work but, ultimately, had to abandon and every creative concept you explored which didn’t quite work out. Let’s celebrate your determination to continue nevertheless.
This is the work of the songwriter – and each and every one of you has faced the challenges it brings in your own, unique way. The fact that you have willingly engaged with this process of trial and error, this state of being uncertain – of being unsure of where you may or may not be heading – should be as celebrated as much as the beautiful, finished, polished work you have all arrived at and shared with your audiences.
Since finishing in May, a number of you have spoken to me to say that you now feel uncertain about where you are heading in your creative and professional lives – and that you feel nervous about this. Leaving the structured framework of education can often result in feeling unsure, particularly if you are working in the music profession, which as we all know offers very little in the way of tangible progression routes.
What I would say is this: to work in music you need to accept uncertainty – and it can be a good thing! Creating opportunity is often about simply noticing that it’s there. I encourage you to not be too fixed or certain in your thinking: your career is unlikely to progress in exactly the way you expect it to (whether you work in music or not) so it’s very important to be open-minded to and to embrace the unexpected.
I recently read an essay by a fantastic writer called Rebecca Solnit, in which she explores the writing of Virginia Woolf on the topic of darkness and the unknown. Solnit examines the idea of being lost or uncertain as a philosophy for a richer and more creative existence. She points out that, if we hang on to our preconceived plans too tightly, we miss out on new possibilities.
She says: “afraid of the darkness of the unknown, the spaces in which we see only dimly, we often choose the darkness of closed eyes, of obliviousness. Under the influence of a plan, it’s easy to see what we want to see. It’s the job of writers and explorers to see more, to travel light when it comes to preconception, to go into the dark with their eyes open.”
What I admire most in all of you is your individuality and strength of character. You’ve demonstrated this continuously through your willingness to push forward in the face of the uncertainty that we deliberately created for you whilst on the programme. You’ve all done this in your own unique way. This is what we are most proud of.
I wish you all the very best for your future. Now go out into the dark, embrace it – and keep your eyes open.