In our final blog of 2019, we asked the Brighter Sound team to reflect on some of their stand-out moments from across the year…
1. Gareth, Head of Operations & Finance
As a relative newcomer to the team, my list of potential highlights was limited, but in my short time here I’ve already experienced some excellent examples of the value and importance of our work. I’ve plumped for Sing City Live as I think it embodies what is so special about what we do. It also gave me first-hand experience of the difference our work makes to our most important stakeholders, the young people themselves. What the evening demonstrated to me was that it isn’t purely about the quality of the music (which was extremely high), it’s also the obvious enjoyment that the group get from having the opportunity to experiment, perform and share their music. You also get a real sense of how the young people, as a group, create a supportive environment in which they can develop and take risks, without fear of failure or being judged.
2. Andrea, Company Coordinator
My favourite memory of this year (and I’ve worked at Brighter Sound for over ten years now!) is the Manchester Culture Awards where we were lucky enough to win the award for Promotion of Talent and Leadership. When our name was announced we were all so shocked! We walked up to the stage arm in arm and I remember feeling like I was at a TV awards ceremony! The speeches and the photographs that were taken are all a blur now, but having my colleagues around me to share the experience was the best thing ever. After the awards ceremony, I had the honour of DJing to everyone. I’d put on a tune, then come out and dance around with everybody, which my colleague found hilarious. I’m sure it’s a memory that will stay in our minds forever.
3. Tim, Project Manager
My stand-out moment was From The Crowd – a large scale open air event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. We commissioned local musician and composer Robin Richards from the band Dutch Uncles to create a musical backdrop for the event, which was staged on the site of the massacre where Manchester Central and the Midland Hotel now stand. Despite the continuous torrential rain which soaked performers and audience alike (!), over 3,000 people attended across the day. The musical score, which also featured contributions from Oliver Vibrans, Katie Chatburn and MC Zani and The Beatbox Collective was sombre, sardonic, atmospheric and ultimately uplifting. The crowd participation was powerful and unifying. The whole day felt like a great way to mark the 1819 event that sparked democratic reform, and secured the right to peaceful protest that is upheld to this day.
4. Lucy S, Both Sides Now Programme Manager
2019 has been a brilliant year for Both Sides Now – we’ve worked with some incredible artists and partners across the North of England on a range of residencies for women, girls and gender minority artists, supported placements in backstage and production roles, launched our first (of many) international commissions and taken the programme overseas for the first time. It’s hard to choose just one highlight, but I think both personally and professionally the Songwriting and Production workshop we delivered in Russia really stands out. I travelled to Moscow with Pops Roberts, a producer, songwriter and musician from the Manchester music scene. We worked with Jenny, an artist and absolute powerhouse who runs Parallel. We had an absolute blast meeting and working with a talented and innovative group of 16 producers, artists and musicians. I was really struck by how music is such a powerful tool to bring people from across the globe together.
5. Laura, Fundraising Manager
As someone with many years of youth work experience, earlier this year I was excited to take on the role of ‘Pastoral Support’ for the BBC Proms Youth Choir Academy (outside of my usual role as fundraiser). The call-out invited young people to apply who like to sing but don’t have any formal singing experience. The schedule was gruelling and the pace incredibly challenging for non-music readers, but they persevered throughout. The culmination of the hard work was the performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Watching the precision, pride and passion the entire choir performed with was just wonderful. And seeing all of their friends and families attend with their complimentary tickets was so special. It was really eye-opening to work on the ‘other side’ of one of our projects. It was also a real joy to work with my colleague Tim, and two of our regular freelancers, Holly Phelps and Dan McDwyer (aka The Dream Team). The impromptu wrap party on the bus home was also a lot of fun!
6. Freddie, Operations & Finance Officer
This was a difficult one, I’ve only been a member of staff at Brighter Sound for six or seven months so, of course, just starting working here is a fantastic highlight for me! But, if I had to narrow it down to more than just the obvious, I’d pick out my time on the Tech For Good panel at our Unheard Voices event. This was my first panel experience and I was, naturally, a little intimidated by the prospect. But the whole event was so fantastic. The day felt genuine and relevant and the propositions were heartfelt and impactful. Not only was it a personal milestone for me, but I also felt it was one for Brighter Sound. That’s why I’m choosing this as my highlight of 2019.
7. Rebecca, Marketing & Communications Manager
My favourite moment of 2019 was the DISRUPT residency. It totally encapsulated everything I love about working at Brighter Sound and why I feel so passionate about what we do. For me something about this project just clicked, on all levels. The creative brief was strong and timely: to create protest music about issues affecting society today, inspired by the events of Peterloo. Nick Chaffe’s incredible design gave the project a fresh and distinct identity, and made the recruitment campaign a joy to work on. The artistic team, Balraj, Fox, Ice and Ruby-Ann, created a supportive and democratic space for the participants to challenge themselves artistically and have their voices heard. And then of course, there were the participants themselves, an amazing group of talented and wonderful human-beings who went from not knowing each other on day 1 to being a fully-fledged collective by day 4. As a group their energy, drive and passion for music was infectious. The tracks they created were powerful, political and life-affirming – I urge you to listen.
8. Lucy W, Project Manager
I’m always so proud of the achievements of the young people we work with, and this year has been no exception. In 2019, there were two moments that really stood out. Firstly the Link Live fundraiser put on by Travis, Billy, Akira and Tom. This was such a great example of young people taking ownership of something, doing exactly what they want and us supporting them to make it happen. The gig was fantastic. On a personal level, I would also have to say Maisie winning a national Youth Music Award as my second highlight. I’ve been working with Maisie for the last couple of years and she’s been on such a journey. Maisie faces a lot more barriers than others but is just so talented and creative. To see her get some deserved recognition for that progression, and for her dad to be there to see it and share it with her, was overwhelmingly emotional and will stick with me. In truth, even if she hadn’t won that award, I would probably still have Maisie’s journey as one of my highlights. I am so incredibly proud of her and hearing what she said about the personal and emotional impact that music has had on her – makes what I do all the more worthwhile.
9. Kate, Head of Programmes
My highlight of 2019 was when we received the news that we were successful with our application to the Arts Council’s Transforming Leadership fund, an exciting new programme to support young and early career women and gender minorities pursuing a career in music. Writing the proposal for this felt like a natural development from all our work around the Both Sides Now programme and the recurrent issues relating to the male dominance in the upper echelons of the music industry. With this programme we are going to develop our own record label, provide training and development opportunities and create industry work placements for women in the North to get the practical skills and experience they need to pursue and fulfil their career ambitions.
10. Joe, Marketing Assistant
2019 has been filled with some outstanding achievements from Brighter Sound. I’ll leave it to the higher ups in the company to shed light on those milestones. One really touching moment for me came from the staff in response to Charlie, our previous Head of Operations & Finance, leaving the company after 11 years of loyal service. As a parting gift, we banded together to each choose one of our favourite albums from an iconic female artist – echoing our continued support of gender equality in music – to give to Charlie (plus Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly as our token male!). The most Brighter Sound gift ever… it was so personal and thoughtful! You can listen to the albums we chose below. The day as a whole was pretty unforgettable… but there was one moment, during the leaving drinks, when members of the Brighter Sound team (who will remain nameless) and Kate Bush became one. Wuthering Heights came on, and something indescribable ensued. Outdoor bar blankets were used in ways you cannot imagine. All I can leave you with is the Wuthering Heights video, in the hope that you may one day understand some of what went on in those magical 3 minutes…
11. Debra, Director
This might be cheating, but for me the whole year has been a highlight. 2019 really has been filled with such a rich tapestry of young and emerging music creators, vibrant programmes and events and fabulous partnerships and stakeholders. To me the essence of our work this year has been shining a ‘brighter’ light on music’s ability to connect – creatively and emotionally, to level the playing field, to unlock opportunity and to break down the barriers that block life choices and burgeoning talent. I feel hugely privileged to work within the music landscape, and to be part of a passionate team who value and build on the potential and impact of music in everyone’s lives. From us all at Brighter Sound, we hope you have a brilliant Christmas and a very happy new year… Here’s to 2020!
For more of our favourite photos from 2019, have a look at our latest Picture Pick.
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