NMC Recordings announces appointment of Helen Sprott as Executive Director
NMC has announced that Helen Sprott will succeed Anne Rushton as Executive Director. In a year-long appointment, commencing 1 November 2020, Helen will lead the strategic, financial, and artistic activities of the charity. Following a staffing restructure with General Manager Eleanor Wilson going on maternity leave, she will work with Director of Development Alex Wright, a newly appointed Recordings & Marketing Manager, and the NMC Board.
'Anne Rushton is a precious jewel who, working tirelessly with its inspired founder composer Colin Matthews and the gifted NMC team, has enabled NMC to become a national treasure that also shines far beyond the boundaries of the UK. It is testament to the stature of the organisation that it can attract a person of the exceptional calibre of Helen Sprott as Anne’s successor. How fortunate NMC is to be welcoming Helen into the fold, to carry and nurture the treasure into the future over the next months.' – Jackie Newbould, Interim Chair
‘From pragmatic beginnings in 1989 NMC has grown into a substantial and dynamic survey of British contemporary music whose value grows with every new acquisition. Founder, Colin Matthew CBE, outgoing Executive Director Anne Rushton, and NMC’s enterprising team are to be admired for the fearlessness with which they have pursued their mission. To browse the catalogue is a wonder and delight and I look forward to many more extraordinary discoveries, and the satisfaction of championing this phenomenal national resource. Thank you to NMC’s dedicated Trustees for the privilege of accompanying NMC into a new era!’ – Helen Sprott
About Helen Sprott
Helen has spent her career in music. Following an early career break with publisher Faber and Faber where she was appointed Commissioning Editor, Music Books, Helen has gone on to leadership roles in broadcast television (she was an award-winning Commissioning Editor with Channel 4 Television) and in orchestral administration, as Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra. For 12 years, Helen was Arts Council England’s Director, Music, first in London then nationally, overseeing public investment in music and music education. Helen has worked as an independent recruitment consultant, advising arts organisations on senior executive appointments, and is an Associate with Not-for-Profit recruitment specialists, Execucare. In January 2020, Helen was appointed to the Board of St Martin in the Fields Limited; in December 2020, she joins the Board of the Academy of Ancient Music.
The NYCGB Young Composers Scheme is an annual initiative which identifies and develops four talented composers aged 18-29 who are passionate about creating high quality, imaginative new music for vocal ensembles. NMC is delighted to be the programme's digital partner.
Now entering in its third year, the scheme aims to challenge perceptions of, and support the development, innovation and diversity of new choral music. Running over a whole year, it offers a four-phase programme of residential courses, workshops, peer and professional mentoring and performance showcases and outlets.
Most residential courses will be shared with the National Youth Choir and NYCGB Fellowship, allowing composers an exceptional opportunity to work in partnership with and have their music brought to life by two outstanding ensembles of young singers of their own age. There will be expert advice and tuition from distinguished composers. Professional mentoring will be led by NYCGB Artistic Director and composer Ben Parry, a highly sought-after composer. His music is published by OUP and Peters Edition and he has many years’ experience in writing for a variety of media. Previous Guest mentors include Errollyn Wallen, John Rutter, Roxanna Panufnik, Richard Allain, Anna Meredith, Alexandra Harwood, Jonathan Dove and Eleanor Alberga.
We will provide exceptional showcase opportunities for works completed during the programme and a professional recording and release for their work on NMC Recordings. NYCGB and NMC Recordings will significantly raise awareness of the young composers and their work through publicity and profiling. Each composer will be awarded a personal Innovation Fund of £500 to undertake their own creative initiatives.
Young Composers will receive free licenses and training in Dorico Pro notation software by Programme Innovation Grant Sponsors (Technology Partner), Steinberg Media Technologies, a piece of music published and promoted by Innovation Grant Sponsors (Publishing Partner), Stainer & Bell, specialist workshops with Stainer & Bell, including a joint workshop with Steinberg Media Technologies on notation (preparing scores for publication), and further workshops on publishing, royalties, copyright and useful resources. Young Composers also take part in an annual retreat at The Red House, Aldeburgh, home to composer Benjamin Britten.
Application Deadline: Friday 4th September 2020, 5pm
Following a successful pilot, we are pleased to announce our first official NMC Listening Club. Composer Emily Howard will be joined online by pianist Alexandra Dariescu and mathematician, writer and presenter Marcus du Sautoy to take a deep dive into Emily Howard's debut album Magnetite, released on NMC in 2016.
As well as analysing the music, our guests will discuss the influences behind the pieces on the album: the oldest known magnetic substance (Magnetite), energy and solar flares (Solar) and the pioneering mathematician Ada Lovelace (Mesmerism). Viewers of the live stream will be able to leave comments and ask questions in the YouTube chat room feature.
Tune in via YouTube on 2 July at 19:00 (GMT+1)
Submit your questions for our guests in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org or during the live stream.
We're excited to introduce our new NMC Listening Club series. Taking place virtually during this time of social distancing, in each session we’ll be exploring selected releases from our back catalogue, in conversation with the composers and artists involved in their creation.
For our first NMC Listening Club, Colin Matthews and Lucy Walker (Head of Public Engagement, Red House) guide us through the 2007 award-winning release Britten on Film (NMC D112). The album collects all the surviving music Benjamin Britten wrote during the 1930s for various organisations such as the General Post Office and Southern Railways.
NMC Listening Club took place as a live stream for NMC donors/supporters via YouTube on Wednesday 13 May. You can rewatch the broadcast here:
Future NMC Listening Club events will be announced via our enewletter (sign up here) and socials. Tune in to watch live and send in your questions to our guests.
We'd love to know what you think? Watch the broadcast and complete this short survey. Thank you.
We are delighted to share the news that Edmund Finnis's Debut Discs albumThe Air, Turning has won the 2020 BBC Music Magazine 'Premiere Award'.
Described as 'a striking collection of works ... richly mysterious and compelling' (The Guardian) this debut album from Finnis reached No. 3 in the Official Specialist Classical Charts and No. 29 in the Classic FM Charts. Congratulations to Edmund, all the incredible artists involved and the recording engineers and producers. A big thank you to the Trusts, Foundations and individuals who have invested in this recording and NMC’s Debut Discs series.
The awards ceremony was due to take place at Kings Place, London last month but was understandably cancelled. Here is Edmund Finnis accepting the award from his home.
Related RecordingsThe Air, Turning
Composer James Wilson tells us about his piece, The Green Fuse – which features in Spark Catchers performed by Chineke! orchestra – and his experience attending his first recording sessions.
The Green Fuse is my first composition to be recorded and released by a record label. I have been an admirer of NMC since I learned of its existence (roughly 10 years ago) and it was a completely unexpected surprise to be asked to contribute to an upcoming release. Within a couple of months of being invited, I found myself assisting the wonderful musicians of Chineke! to perform and record the music. As a composer there have been many small triumphs throughout my career but having my work recorded is a special milestone. Recordings make music more accessible, more readily available. The thought that my music has been preserved so that a wide audience can hear it is something very special. I have often heard it said that as composers we write music because we have a creative compulsion to do so; that is who we are as artists. But our music is a way to communicate with others; it becomes the vehicle through which we share our life experiences and musical perspectives. A composer with no audience is like speaking in an empty room or sending a letter to an abandoned home. There is a wonder to the pure act of creation for its own sake, but music lives when it is heard. I feel very lucky that The Green Fuse will be added to NMC’s catalogue, alongside other contemporary music that I love.
The Green Fuse is the second piece I’ve composed for string orchestra and was written in the summer of 2017. It was specially commissioned for the Cheltenham Festival that year. I have been told it was the first premiere that Chineke! ever presented in a concert. It is a privilege to be part of this incredible ensemble’s history and how wonderful for this music to be put on their first album showcasing music by living Black and Minority Ethnic composers.
James Wilson (right) at the recording sessions for The Green Fuse with Chineke!
The day the music was recorded will be one I will remember for a long time. There are so many surprises whenever we do something new; for instance, I was taken aback by how little our excellent sound engineer, David Lefeber, needed in order to record the music. There was no large mixing desk, just a modest setup with a few cables going into a laptop. It was also great to see Chineke! in action again. Their playing is always full of life and vitality and they play with total commitment. I remember that on the day I had a strong feeling of apprehension but the session went very well; it was all sewn up in less than 2 hours. The session was abuzz with animated discussion between the musicians, the conductor and myself, with our sound engineer also being of great help. It was such a positive day and I am very excited to hear the final result of our efforts once the album is released.
The Green Fuse stands out to me, in my musical output, as a piece through which I most directly explore existential themes. The music is based on a Dylan Thomas poem 'the force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ (1934). The poem is full of rich images and emotion. It discusses a duality in nature: The same force that results in death and destruction powers beauty and growth. Nature is wild and Thomas’ grappling with that fact was fertile ground for a composition to emerge. The music I wrote in this piece, in the same way, has a duality: there are phases of growth and then recession. But conceptually I am not aiming to merely represent this idea in sound. The Green Fuse is my response to this idea identified by Thomas, and a response to his way of expressing his thoughts. His words are a starting point through which the music takes on its own identity. For instance, I can feel a sense of consolation in Thomas’ words, perhaps somewhere in the background of the music I wrote, that might also be present.
Again I must say, I feel so lucky to have music that means so much to me being recorded and shared. What a fantastic privilege.