Happy New Year! We’re delighted to start the year with some reflections on 2015 from our Director, Debra King.
The past year has been an exciting and expansive time for Brighter Sound. Shining through the cacophony of 2015 is our growing sense of clarity, purpose and output as a company. We have been able to deliver clear, high profile, properly resourced programmes that have met the needs of a wide range of young people, emerging and established musicians and developed and broadened new audiences.
It has been a great privilege to witness the exploration of creative music making across a very varied body of work – to see the way people interact with it and the impact it has on their lives and those around them – from children and young people, some struggling with school and home life, to professional musicians looking for a creative epiphany.
I was delighted to see the launch of our young musicians programme supported by our three-year strategic partnership with Youth Music. It has enabled us to embed sustainable work in local communities of young people, nurturing their creative ideas and developing strong talent and progression routes opening out to wider opportunities on national and international platforms.
A highlight for me was the creative music residency for young musicians with international artist and cultural activist Meklit – she explained how she nurtured a yes culture to creative musical ideas during her time here with us at Brighter Sound.
‘If someone had a creative musical idea, we said yes to it. We found a place for it. Maybe not in the way originally envisioned, but there was always a place. Every single young person contributed and through their contribution, grew somehow larger in perspective and capacity. It was a mutual rising.’ – Meklit
We’re fortunate to have a wonderful network of skilled practitioners working across Early Years projects, instrumental courses, partnerships with schools, Music Education Hubs across Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire, and with skills development and training charity, Rathbone.
Our Sing City programme delivers weekly sessions for young singers and songwriters from across Greater Manchester to develop their skills under expert guidance including regular performance opportunities. This has been instrumental in connecting young people with a state of the art venue – Band on the Wall – as well as with professional musicians, practitioners and the broader music industry. Our Manchester Youth Jazz Foundation – a project with Jazz North focusing on improvisation, composition and creative music making and led by a team of experienced jazz tutors – has also enabled young jazz musicians to creatively collaborate and develop an insight into the jazz world.
Our Wall of Sounds programme in partnership with Band on the Wall, has increased our reputation as a creative producing company, supporting emerging musicians to develop creatively and create incredible new work. It has spearheaded commissions and residencies outside our host venue across the city and internationally, as well as informing and pushing forward our communications strategy to the next level. It profiled the work and stimulated a large number of legacies for many of the emerging and mid career musicians we work with.
It included an Artistic Directors Series with Beth Orton – our fourth in the series following residencies with The Unthanks, Snarky Puppy and DJ Yoda – and an international collaboration with our emerging artists alongside four emerging artists from Wuhan, China.
‘Beyond my expectations – I didn’t expect to meet so many talented women – we made music and pushed experimentation outside the comfort zone.’ – Beth Orton
We produced two commissions, the first with Sara Lowes who created the wondrous Graphene Suite inspired by a residency with the science team at the National Graphene Institute (The University of Manchester), and with Jason Singh who worked with Warli painters in the tribal village of Thane, India in partnership with the visual arts agency A Fine Line.
In addition, following from our 2014 commission to produce the opening week of the newly refurbished Manchester Central Library curated by Everything Everything, we delivered the Echo Trace programme, taking inspiring artists and makers to work in six local libraries across the city.
The Beth Orton residency launched our women in music programme which included our Here Come the Grrrls initiative – celebrating, profiling and inspiring young female musicians and composers, and in November we were delighted to sponsor Music Week’s Women in Music Awards with our creative music partners Band on the Wall.
My final reflection is that in a world where much is often over-produced and excellence is associated with perfection rather than the unknown, presenting the culminations – the residencies, live showcases, the inaugural performances of the commissions – there was a palpable sense of risk and excellence in the same mix.
Nurturing and supporting new ideas, and enabling boundaries to change, invigorates the musicians and young people that we work with and in turn inspires and excites our audiences. It gives a sense of the new, the possible, and how the future game can be changed.
We’re looking forward to 2016 when we’ll continue to work with children and young people, families, emerging professional musicians and all of our partners. Here’s to another great year.
Debra King – Director
P.S. We’ve compiled some of our favourite photos of 2015 in our Picture Pick gallery – take a look here.