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Robert Ashcroft to step down as Chief Executive of PRS for Music in 2019

Robert Ashcroft has announced that he will step down as Chief Executive of PRS for Music on the tenth anniversary of his appointment, at the end of December 2019.

Under Ashcroft’s leadership, PRS for Music has launched three industry joint ventures: ICE, Network of Music Partners (NMP) and PPL PRS Ltd, each designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of collective rights management.

Robert has also played a major role in the adaptation of European copyright law to the Internet era. His 2010 ‘hubs strategy paper’ was central to the 2014 European Collective Rights Management Directive, while it was his argument about the ‘transfer of value’ that convinced the European Commission that user-upload platforms and other social media should be made liable for copyright.

Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive, PRS for Music, said: “Working for PRS has been by far the most compelling and worthwhile thing I have ever done. It has been a privilege to work on behalf of our members and I would like to thank them, our board, and above all my colleagues, for their support over the years.”

Nigel Elderton, PRS Chairman, said: “Robert has given the organisation a decade of stability and growth, making it the considerable success it is today. He should be rightly proud of his legacy and the health in which he leaves PRS for Music. On behalf of all our members, staff and industry partners I would like to thank Robert for his service and the positive impact he has had.  We wish him every success in the future.”

Crispin Hunt, BASCA Chair, said: “Robert Ashcroft is a visionary leader who has helped guide music across some very wild and unchartered territory. His legacy will likely be felt as widely across its future landscape. A place where ‘value’ will hopefully be ‘transferred’ back to ©reators via robust and effective collective rights –  in no small part due to him.”

                           Composer Debbie Wiseman receives her OBE

 

In the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list, June 2018, BASCA member Debbie Wiseman was awarded the OBE for services to music.

Debbie is Classic FM’s Composer in Residence and her latest album “The Glorious Garden”, a collaboration with Alan Titchmarsh, topped the UK Classical Chart for three weeks.

In a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on November 16th, Wiseman was presented with her award by Prince Charles.

Also presented with her award that day was Grace Ladoja, founder of Metallic Inc and manager of UK grime star and Ivor Novello award winner, Skepta. She had  been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Year Honours list.

 

 

BASCA in association with PRS for Music announce that the 64th Ivor Novello Awards will take place on Thursday 23rd May 2019 at the Grosvenor House, London from 11.30am to 4.30pm.

The Ivors celebrate, honour and reward excellence in songwriting and composing and are judged by the music writing community.

The 64th Ivor Novello Awards will recognise works released in the UK in 2018. They will also honour songwriters and composers with gift of BASCA awards, which recognise outstanding contributions to UK music.

The Ivors 2019 timetable is as follows:

Monday 10th December 2018:
– The Ivors 2019 Rules and Guidelines Published.
– BASCA invites entries, across six nominated categories for song and album releases, film, television and video game scores.

Thursday 24th January 2019
– Tickets on Sale

Thursday 7th February 2019
– Entries close across six nominated categories for song and album releases, film, television and video game scores.

Week commencing 22nd April 2019
– The Ivors 2019 Nominations Announced

Thursday 23rd May 2019
– The 64th Ivor Novello Awards

 

For more information on The Ivors please visit www.theivors.com

Contact:
Fran Matthews or Cindy Truong
awards@basca.org.uk
020 7636 2929

 

Spotify is attempting to provide more info to publishers to help them understand their payouts better by launching a new Publishing Analytics platform.

According to the official announcement, Spotify Publishing Analytics “will give publishers daily streaming statistics for the works and recordings they have identified, including playlist performance, as well as the ability to view data for each of the songwriters on their roster,”

Spotify’s Jules Parker, Head of Publishing Relations & Services, EMEA and APAC, said “One of our core missions at Spotify is to enable creators the opportunity to live off their art…the publishing community is integral in supporting the songwriters that create the music we love. With more information, publishers are empowered to make the most of the opportunities the global reach of Spotify provides, and the more information we can share with each other, the more opportunities we can help create for songwriters.”

 

The best new works by Britain’s contemporary composers have been announced today, with thirty-seven composers nominated for the 2018 British Composer Awards across 12 categories including orchestral, jazz, sonic art, chamber ensemble, stage works and wind or brass band.

Highlighting the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary composition in the UK today, the 2018 British Composer Awards nominees include: numerous works demonstrating the ways in which today’s composers give a voice to marginalised groups in society; compositions inspired by poetry and other artforms such as visual art and literature; and works that breathe new life and meaning into history.

Nominees giving a voice to disenfranchised groups in society include: a work by the world’s only ‘recovery’ orchestra (Conall Gleeson), composed and performed by an orchestra in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction; an opera reviving forgotten music by history’s overlooked female composers (Tom Green); and music composed for disabled performers (Oliver SearleLiam Taylor-West).

Compositions taking inspiration from poetry and other artforms include: a piece drawing on world music and Indian poetry to build musical bridges between cultures (Roxanna Panufnik); a reimagining of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to apply to refugees in the world today, first performed by children who are refugees themselves (Dee Isaacs); and a brass band composition based on coal mining strikes and inspired by poet Mervyn Peake (Gavin Higgins).

Nominated composers reinterpreting and breathing new life into history include: a brass band piece inspired by the life of Alan Turing (Simon Dobson); an orchestral work exploring the notion of ‘Deep Time’ through music (Harrison Birtwistle); a sonic art installation celebrating the rediscovery of a forgotten Baptist Burial Ground (Emily Peasgood); and a full-length string concert inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953 (Oliver Coates).

A record-breaking year for entries, 2018 saw over 560 submissions, demonstrating the volume of quality new music being composed and debuted in the UK. This year all categories have been judged anonymously for the first time, and a second jazz category has been added. In 2018 51 per cent of the composer are aged under 40, and are first-time nominees.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

Crispin HuntChair at BASCA, said: “In this record-breaking year for entries, BASCA is delighted to celebrate the breadth of works for the British Composer Awards, representing a wealth of UK talent. As ever it’s hugely exciting and inspiring to see the fresh passion represented by our first-time nominees. Congratulations to everyone nominated today.”

Nigel EldertonPRS for Music Chairman, commented: “I am delighted for PRS for Music to once again be supporting the British Composer Awards, with its impeccable record of recognising the best contemporary classical works. It is inspiring to see that over half of this year’s nominated composers are aged under 40 and first-time nominees, showing that the UK classical music landscape is truly continuing to flourish. Congratulations to you all and I look forward to celebrating with you at the ceremony in December.”

Alan DaveyController BBC Radio 3, added: “Broadcasting the outstanding work of composers from across the UK – throughout our schedule – is an intrinsic part of our role to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture. We look forward to sharing highlights of this year’s awards and some of these marvellous new compositions on the station.”

Celebrating the art of composition and showcasing the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists, the winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on Tuesday 4 December 2018.

Presented by BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, the ceremony will include a performance in memory of nominated composer, Oliver Knussen and the presentation of two Gift of BASCA awards – the British Composer Award for Innovation and the British Composer Award for Inspiration, presented in association with the Music Publishers Association.

British Composer Awards 2018 Nominees:

Amateur or Young Performers
Works for voluntary, amateur or youth choirs and ensembles
• Fiery Tales by Richard Bullen
• Microscopic Dances by Oliver Searle
• The Caretaker’s Guide to the Orchestra by Jeremy Holland-Smith

Chamber Ensemble
Six or more instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part
• Libro di fiammelle e ombre by James Weeks
• O Hototogisu! by Oliver Knussen
• Tanz/haus : triptych 2017 by James Dillon

Choral
A cappella or accompanied, except works for choir and orchestra
• In the Land of Uz by Judith Weir
• Mielo by Raymond Yiu
• Unending Love by Roxanna Panufnik

Community or Educational Project
Works demonstrating a composer’s work in community engagement alongside compositional craft
• Solace by Conall Gleeson
• The Rime of the Ancient Mariner- a retelling for our times by Dee Isaacs
• The Umbrella by Liam Taylor-West

Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble
Nine or more instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element
• Afronaut by Cassie Kinoshi
• Rituals by Matt London
• Time by Finlay Panter

Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble
Up to eight instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element
• Close to Ecstasy by Simon Lasky
• Vegetarians by Ivo Neame
• You’ve Got to Play the Game by Johnny Richards

Orchestral
• Deep Time by Harrison Birtwistle
• Recorder Concerto by Graham Fitkin
• The Imaginary Museum by Julian Anderson

Small Chamber
Three to five instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part
• Chant by Charlotte Bray
• Lines Between by Robert Laidlow
• Unbreathed by Rebecca Saunders

Solo or Duo
Instrumental or vocal music performed by one or two players or voices
• A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women by Laura Bowler
• Belmont Chill by William Marsey
• The Harmonic Canon by Dominic Murcott

Sonic Art
Sound art installations, electronic music and works with live electronics
• Halfway to Heaven by Emily Peasgood
• The Otheroom by Rolf Wallin
• Two Machines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and Hugh Jones as ‘Crewdson & Cevanne’

Stage Works
Works specifically written for the stage, including opera, dance and musical theatre
• Shorelines by Oliver Coates
• The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès
• The World’s Wife by Tom Green

Wind Band or Brass Band
• Dark Arteries Suite by Gavin Higgins
• Mindscapes by Lucy Pankhurst
• The Turing Test by Simon Dobson

Works eligible for the 2018 British Composer Awards must have received a UK premiere between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. Works are also composed by a composer born in the UK or ordinarily resident in the UK.

For more information visit the British Composer Awards website

New Industry Figures reveal surge in exports, recorded music and jobs in record £4.5BN boost to economy

  • UK Music’s 2018 Measuring Music report reveals UK music industry exports rose by 7% to a record £2.6 billion last year
  • Big rises in recorded music and publishing revenues help fuel export growth
  • Music industry jobs rose by 3% to a new high of 145,815 people
  • The UK music industry grew by 2% in 2017

The UK music industry grew by 2% in 2017 to contribute a record £4.5 billion to the economy – up by £100 million on 2016, a new report by UK Music reveals today.

UK Music published the findings of its Measuring Music 2018 report today (Thursday November 1) to highlight the scale of the industry’s contribution to the economy.

The flagship annual economic study by UK Music and its members showed that the music industry continued to grow last year across almost every sector.

Among the big success stories were the record music sector which saw a rise of 9% to £700 million and music publishing which grew by 7% to £505 million in 2017.

Successful British acts including Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Rag’N’Bone Man, Stormzy, Harry Styles and Depeche Mode helped exports of UK music soar in 2017 by 7% to £2.6 billion.

Millions of fans who poured into concerts ranging from giant festivals to grassroots music venues generated a contribution of live music to the UK’s economy of around £1 billion (£991 million).

UK Music measures the health of the music business each year by collating data from our partners about the industry’s contribution in goods and services, known as Gross Value Added (GVA), to the UK’s national income or Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Exports are part of this contribution.

KEY POINTS FROM MEASURING MUSIC:

(All figures are the music industry’s GVA to the economy in 2017 + the percentage rise on 2016 figures)

  • Whole sector’s contribution to economy – £4.5bn (+2%)
    • Musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists – £2bn (+1%)
    • Recorded music – £700m (+9%)
    • Music publishing – £505m (+7%)
  • Exports (whole sector) – £2.6bn (+7%)
    • Recorded music – £468m (+11%)
    • Music publishing (exports) – £719m (+11%)
    • Music representatives (exports) £348m (+9%) (see footnote)
  • Employment (whole sector) – 145,815(+3%)

UK Music chief executive Michael Dugher welcomed the figures, but delivered a warning about the need to nurture the music industry’s talent pipeline.

Mr Dugher said: “British music brings enjoyment to millions and makes a massive contribution to the UK plc. I’m really proud of the fact that these figures show once again that when it comes to music, we in the UK are very, very good at what we do.

“We are a global leader in music and we continue to grow faster than other parts of the British economy and to punch well above our weight.

“Music exports are a particular British success story and organisations like PRS for Music and PPL, that help ensure creators and investors see a return for their work, have also performed particularly strongly in 2017.

“These figures show what can be achieved when we choose to back the British music industry.

“Every child from every background should have the opportunity to access music, to experience its transformative power and to try out a career in the industry if they want to – regardless of whether or not they have access to the Bank of Mum and Dad.

“That’s why we need further government support to help us ensure we produce the next generation of world-leading British talent by backing music in education, protecting grassroots music venues and making sure that creators are properly rewarded for their work. If we do that, we can be even more successful in the future.”

UK Music chairman Andy Heath said: “We are fortunate that levels of creativity in the music industry are really promising at the moment.

“It is a fantastic time for music-makers and for consumers – both in the variety of music on offer and the different ways that people can choose to listen to music.

“However, there are challenges.  It is difficult in the digital age to break new talent because of the sheer quantity of music out there in a crowded marketplace.

“That difficulty is growing and means brilliant creators have to fight harder than ever to get their music heard.

“In the years ahead, it will be a test to help audiences and consumers differentiate and find the musical gems that make our industry so unique.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said: “The report demonstrates continued sustained growth with the music industry now contributing £4.5 billion to the economy. Exports have risen to £2.6 billion and the sector employs 145,815 people.

“2017 was a very successful year globally for the UK music industry. Ed Sheeran’s third album ÷ (Divide) was the biggest selling album of the year. The O2 in London was officially the most popular live music arena in the world. Five of the top ten most successful worldwide tours were from UK acts. 2018 is proving to be no different

“We need to build on these achievements and as the Minister responsible for the creative industries I am firmly committed to doing just that.”

We are ‘disappointed’ as the approval of Sony’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing sets to create a ‘major super power’. The creation of a behemoth entity threatens the ideal of a balanced, diverse and competitive marketplace

BASCA has cited its disappointment following the decision of The European Commission to approve Sony’s acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, thus creating a ‘major super power’.

This follows BASCA’s independent activity, including campaigning to the Commission and statement of September 28th 2018, outlining its opposition of the potential deal.

Sony is currently the world’s biggest music publisher and second biggest music label. BASCA opposed the now-approved Sony EMI deal in favour of EMI being run as a standalone business, or else combined with smaller music companies, with the ideal of fostering a fair and competitive market for European talent.

BASCA opposed the Sony acquisition of EMI and the creation of a ‘major super power’ to mitigate concerns including: possible dominance in the licensing market, dominant influence on CMO’s, possible further reduction of the share of online royalties payable to creators, the undermining of the future autonomy of Creators’ Rights and the reduction of choice and service for creators.

Commenting on the decision BASCA Chair, Crispin Hunt said: “It is disappointing that this decision will create a behemoth that could hinder balance, diversity and competition for music.

“Sony is a great music company but it is through competition as opposed to oligopoly, we all move towards market success and the innovative future music deserves – online and off – for indies, the self-releasing sector and majors.”

The Gold Badge Awards return this month to honour and celebrate eleven outstanding individuals who have inspired or supported the creator community. Ahead of the ceremony on Friday 19th October, we meet composer Sarah Rodgers, who has dedicated herself to championing music creators and will be collecting an Award in recognition of her work…

How do you feel about receiving a Gold Badge Award from the songwriting and composing community?

“Honoured and delighted! Gold Badge is a very special occasion and I’m looking forward to seeing colleagues and friends.”

What has been the most pivotal moment in your career?

“Writing the music for a film about the National Trust, which meant I then had something for people to watch and listen to. Recordings are a much more commonplace resource these days but in the 1980s it was far harder to achieve and having an audio calling-card made all the difference. Not long after that, a composer exchange involving a two week visit to Russia in 1989 (about 6 months before the Berlin Wall came down) was key to my commitment to helping UK composers find a united voice and to speaking out in the interests of all music creators.”

Which person has been the most influential figure in your career and why?

“Without a shadow of doubt, the person who has given me the most support, encouraged me to say, ‘yes’ when I might have said, ‘maybe’, conjured amazing creative projects (and funding) out of thin air, been a total realist (something we all need!) and listened interminably, is my partner of 31 years, the clarinettist, Geraldine Allen.”

What one piece of advice would you give your young self, starting out in music?

“This has to be dual! On the creative front, keep writing and keep listening to all sorts of music. The more you exercise your skills, the more prepared you will be to take on whatever compositional challenges come your way. On the practical front, get connected to writer-representative organisations and writer communities. Sorry! Advice seldom comes in small packages!”

You spent two years working with Voluntary Service Overseas in Sierra Leone before you began composing professionally. How would you say this experience impacted or influenced your composition style?

“Living in a different culture is a life-changing experience. Africa entered into my music as rhythm and colour, and persuaded me to avoid unnecessary complexity. It also became the stimulous for creating cross-cultural works, composing alongside and drawing on the traditions, at different times, of African, Indian, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese music. Last but not least, it led me to try always to make my music, present and purposeful.”

You founded the British Composer Awards for BASCA in 2003. At the time, how important and necessary did you feel this was?

“I was a girl on a mission! The BCAs were the culmination of more than a decade of personal efforts to establish an occasion when composers could come together and celebrate the achievements of the classical composing community in the UK. I think the BCAs have done a great job in helping composers in the UK grow in confidence, become more collaborative and have a stronger artistic presence. The Awards have also helped to kick-start not a few careers! I couldn’t be happier that they are still thriving after 16 years.”

Serving as Chair of both the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain and BASCA, you have dedicated yourself to championing music creators. What are the main challenges that music creators face in today’s current climate?

“All creators face the challenge of dealing with conditions that stop them from being the best they can be – lack of time, opportunity and funding. We learn to manage our time and to create opportunities but being paid reasonably or even adequately for what we do is a constant battle, whether it is the streaming debate or changes to royalty rates driven by commercial factors or the sheer pressure of demand on finite funding budgets. In my world (classical music) it seems we have still not found an equitable way of rewarding the music that labours under the description of cultural.”

You have been working in partnership with Orchestras Live, whose mission is to ensure that communities across the country have access to world-class orchestral experiences. What is the best way to keep orchestral music relevant to people’s lives in 2018?

“I’ve been involved in a number of projects with Orchestras Live and this recent one was a commission for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, performed to a large and enthusiastic audience in Norfolk. Orchestral music at the blockbuster level is alive and well. Look at the constant stream of new film releases with massive scores, or film music at the Proms, or the audio content of video games now translated into live performances springing up around the country. The keener question, and this is where the work of Orchestras Live comes in, is how to lead those listeners into other repertoire so that they can enjoy the orchestral experience for its whole spectrum of musical richness.”

The 45th Gold Badge Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PPL and PRS for Music, taking place at The Savoy in London from 11.30am to 4.30pm on Friday 19th October. 

www.goldbadgeawards.com

The Gold Badge Awards return this month to honour and celebrate eleven outstanding individuals who have inspired or supported the creator community. Ahead of the ceremony on Friday 19th October, we meet composer, arranger, producer and former Head of Music at the National Theatre, Matthew Scott, who will be collecting an Award in recognition of his work…

How do you feel about receiving a Gold Badge Award from the songwriting and composing community?

“I’m very flattered and if I’m honest, I’m as pleased as Punch, especially because the award was voted for by colleagues rather than members of the general public. It’s recognition for a branch of musical activity which normally passes unacknowledged.”

What has been the most pivotal moment in your career?

“It’s hard to choose a single one because there seem to have been so many. I suppose that the conversation I had with Lottie Lenya in New York in 1980 on the way to the airport to fly back to London, which steered me from academia into the music industry was pretty extraordinary, if only because her advice was the opposite of everybody else’s. She saw that I was happier in the rehearsal room or theatre than in the library or archive which was surprising given my CV up to that point.”

Which person has been the most influential figure in your career and why?

“I’ve always tried to get involved in as many different areas of music as possible, so the list is long and very varied, stretching from Sister Bliss to John Berger, via Harrison Birtwistle and Christopher Logue. It would probably be Steve Hawes, who gave me a wonderful start at Granada with the drama series “Floodtide” in a fantastically generous gesture of faith, or Jeff Wayne, for whom I worked as a copyist and who gave me the nerve to grab it with both hands. In theatre, both Dominic Muldowney and Peter Hall took me seriously on the strength of frighteningly little evidence, and I hope that I’ve gone some way to repaying their faith.”

What one piece of advice would you give your young self, starting out in music?

“I wish that I’d had the confidence to believe that I could earn a living in music and that I hadn’t been obsessed by that paranoia. I have followed my own advice by trying to do anything offered that was physically possible, and to learn from every project, be it triumph or disaster, but I’m still haunted by my imaginary epitaph: that I did the best I could with what I was given.”

You are an extremely successful composer in your own right, across a broad spectrum of theatre, film and TV works. What advice would you give to composers who want to write for various forms of media, or perhaps to someone who is trying to branch out of one form into another? Are there challenges to diversifying and broadening what you write for?

“The satisfaction is very different from the sense of fulfilment which is open to colleagues who are more successful in a narrower field of endeavour. I don’t know if it’s better or more fulfilling than the alternative and I think it’s a bit late to find out! Working with Harry Birtwistle made me very aware of the limits of my imagination in the field of experimental music for the concert hall, but I don’t feel cheated or belittled by my very limited profile in concert music, and I have very little work unperformed. But I would have liked to have done more feature film work I suppose although I see friends under the most enormous stress sometimes and I wonder… There is a lot of mutual suspicion in the various branches of the industry, most of it unjustified: my theatre work makes it easier for me to read and visualise from script or screenplay, but makes me aware of the size of gestures which are allowable in theatre but are wildly inappropriate in music for the screen, particularly in television.”

As Head of Music at the National Theatre, you supported and inspired a host of composers working on productions there. What are your top tips for aspiring composers hoping to land a project as part of leading theatre production?

“If you get an interview for a theatre project, try to absorb the script in as much detail as you can beforehand. Directors’ abilities to discuss music vary very widely: they are all aware of the contribution that music can make, how powerful and immediate an impact that music can have and they want all of that but are sometimes reluctant to delegate the control of it to someone else, least of all to a composer whose ability as a self-salesman is very often in direct contrast to his or her compositional talents. I have come to the conclusion that almost any problem can be resolved by discussion, by meaningful communication, and I devoted a lot of time and energy to keeping the channels open and the conversation flowing during my time at the NT. Showreels are useful but few people know how to listen to them, in my experience – they tend to search for exactly what they want to hear, rather than try to detect the wider aesthetic outlook of the composer. Again there are some who are very good at this once encouraged, while there are others who need the advocacy of others.”

How did your project conducting and arranging for Faithless come about?

“I was asked by the London Sinfonietta to make an orchestral realisation of the piece that Ayalah Bentovin (aka Sister Bliss) had composed for the Fuse Festival in Leeds, after I had reconstructed the Sergeant Pepper album for the Milan Festival, with an amazing line-up of guest vocalists including Marianne Faithfull and Jarvis Cocker among others, and had reworked some Kurt Weill orchestrations for Anthony Hegarty and Martha Wainwirght at the Meltdown Festival. Blissy and I worked very happily together and she later invited me to join the band in Moscow for their appearance as part of the Smirnoff Festival, which came in the middle of their world tour. I enjoyed the experience despite the very short rehearsal time and had a wonderful time working with an orchestra of young Russian musicians, although I wish now that I’d been a bit braver and flamboyant in the arrangements. I got obsessed with the problems posed by the lack of rehearsal and collaboration time and focussed on the problem of synchronising orchestra and the band; of course the combination of the very rhythmic nature of Faithless’ music and the orchestras familiarity with the material beforehand meant that no such problem existed, and the performances went very smoothly. I’d love to do some more with more time for developing a sound; I have always enjoyed projects in the rock industry but my academic air, which means that I always look like a Vicar caught in a raid on a brothel, doesn’t make me the natural choice, I guess!”

The music in a theatre production or in a film is often said to be the ‘forgotten’ or ‘unappreciated’ character. How do you view the role of music and your work in the context of the films and theatre productions you’ve worked on?

“This isn’t something that has ever worried me very much because there are so many things that only music can do. It can communicate information in so many areas simultaneously and instantly: period, location, plus then myriad delicate variations of mood, aspiration, irony etc. and I have always been aware of the responsibility that accompanies its invention. I come from a largely medical family and I used to envy doctors because they never have to question whether their work is helpful or not; I no longer worry because I now realise how consistently helpful music is. Without wishing to sound gooey or impossibly cheesy, I feel very lucky to still be open to both the tears and the blasts of elation after all these years.”

The 45th Gold Badge Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PPL and PRS for Music, taking place at The Savoy in London from 11.30am to 4.30pm on Friday 19th October. 

www.goldbadgeawards.com

The Gold Badge Awards return this month to honour and celebrate eleven outstanding individuals who have inspired or supported the creator community. Ahead of the ceremony on Friday 19th October, we meet inspirational conductor, composer, trombonist and singer, Scott Stroman, who will be collecting an Award in recognition of his work…

How do you feel about receiving a Gold Badge Award from the songwriting and composing community?

“It’s a great honour to be recognised by one’s peers. I’m very humbled.”

What has been the most pivotal moment in your career?

“The most pivotal moment came in Miami on New Year’s Eve 1983, when as a 23-year old I was playing trombone for Liza Minnelli. In the dressing room I observed that the band, all excellent players, were older than me, and realised that as pleasant as this was, I would never be satisfied to be here at their age. From that moment I set out to go to New York, or better, to Europe. I won a grant from the Rotary Foundation to study in London and the rest is history.”

Which person has been the most influential figure in your career and why?

“Though there have been very many, in hindsight the most influential was probably my cousin Brad Huff. Growing up in the same small town in Indiana but three years older, he was the tail end of the Vietnam generation, passionate and rebellious, and became “the” local rock drummer, turning me on to prog rock and fusion. Brad was a totally self-taught, itinerate musician and yet gave me huge encouragement as I pursued a path through formal education—a ying to my yang. He had the wits and courage to make his way to Denver, LA, Nashville, and eventually to Europe as an outstanding prog rock drummer, singer, guitarist and songwriter, full of life and discovery until his death from cancer in Prague five years ago. He accumulated few worldly possessions but untold musical ones, loads of loyal friends, and was my surrogate big brother.”

What one piece of advice would you give your young self, starting out in music?

“Have confidence in your feelings and beliefs, but be open to challenge. Prepare as best you can, trust yourself, and go for it with an open mind and open ears. Listen.”

You are a passionate educator and inspirational advocate for the genre of Jazz, what makes you positive about the future of jazz music education?

“The music itself, endlessly engaging. If it contains something inherently appealing, people will pursue learning about it. The “jazz way” is inherent in human nature and will always be there; all we can do is encourage it. What we see today is that loads of excellent young musicians are genuinely engaged by the music.”

As a prolific composer and arranger, how do you feel your Jazz background and improvising skills informs your compositions and arranging projects in other music genres?

“The short answer is the same as it did for Bach, Beethoven, Ellington, Mingus, Gil Evans, Kenny Wheeler and all my writing heroes. Working in jazz means speaking the language of the music, including internalising its harmonic structure, rhythmic language, and melodic references and doing it in time, in performance. It also requires detailed listening and spontaneous, creative response. Composing and arranging is a slowed-down version of the same thing while also offering the benefit of hindsight. Western classical music, at the same time, offers intriguing models of formal structure and architecture. I respond to all of it and have always been drawn by curiosity to be musically multi-lingual.”

You are a great supporter of inclusion and participation in music and singing is perhaps the easiest way for most people to practically engage with music. Where do you find the inspiration for your stunning vocal projects?

I can clearly remember the first time I sang in a group as a little boy. I wasn’t even sure if I could sing, but the director made it so much fun that I was swept away. She offered me a teeny little solo and I jumped at the chance–it was one of the defining moments of my life and I’ve kept searching for that “tingle factor” ever since. I find it all over the place, in many cultures. I just want everyone to experience it.

Are there any significant differences between working in the US as opposed to living and working in the UK?

I’m not sure I can be objective. Though our roots are in the US, my wife Sue and I love living and working in the UK and have raised our family here. Both countries provide great opportunities but also great challenges. What I do know is that from the moment I arrived in London in 1984 I’ve felt nothing but warmth, encouragement and constant inspiration and I’ve tried to return the favour.

The 45th Gold Badge Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PPL and PRS for Music, taking place at The Savoy in London from 11.30am to 4.30pm on Friday 19th October. The award ceremony follows a three course lunch and a limited amount of tickets are still on sale. For more information contact Cindy Truong at BASCA – cindy@basca.org.uk

www.goldbadgeawards.com

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