Sound and Music Welcomes Susanna Eastburn
Hello. My name is Susanna Eastburn and I’m the new Chief Executive of Sound and Music. It’s very early days for me here (my first week, in fact) but I am hugely excited by the potential in front of us, and the inspiration of such a dazzling array of composers and new work around the country. It is a great privilege to have the chance to be part of that and to work with so many talented people.
This is a great time for new music in Britain. I do not underestimate the current challenges it faces, given heavy cuts in the public sector affecting both arts funding and the livelihoods of so many. But nevertheless, I believe that this is the most stimulating place in the world to be if you’re a composer or lover of new work. Cultures, styles and influences meet and mingle here in a uniquely British way – a heady mix from which our composers and artists can draw their inspiration, take or ignore what speaks to them and forge their own unique voices. Ambitious and distinctive new work is being created in traditional forms and in forms that defy explanation, across and between genres - work that calls upon the exceptional skills and musicianship of performers, as well as ever-evolving ways of making and communicating music digitally. Audiences are curious and broadminded, seeking out-of-the-ordinary experiences to catch and fire their imagination.
My vision for Sound and Music is this: Sound and Music exists to help composers and creative artists develop their talent; and for the extraordinary music produced by that talent to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. Our focus is particularly on those who have great potential but lack the networks, experience and means to develop their skills and take their work to a larger audience; we also think there is more to do to help talented composers and creative artists at different career stages develop and stretch their imagination and skill, take risks and explore new territory, always with the ultimate aim of making a connection with audiences. Talking directly to composers and creative artists, and involving them in helping to shape our plans, is part of how we work. Working well in partnership with musicians, artists and other organisations, and encouraging new networks and collaborative thinking, is essential if we are to do the best we can for new music.
Just in the last few days, I’ve been involved in shortlisting for our next Embedded residency with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (an opportunity for a composer to spend an extended period working with the orchestra, its players and staff – including workshops and the creation of a new piece), and as an invited panel member interviewing composers for Rambert Dance Company’s next Music Fellow. I have been amazed at the breadth and originality of so many of the ideas coming through, the generous curiosity manifested by composers in their work with others, and the determination and steely focus on their music making a connection with people, be it through artistic collaborations, or in finding new fora for their work. With such a wealth of talent out there we are in for some exciting times in the years ahead.
Alongside me, Sound and Music has a largely new, highly dedicated and smaller team in place to deliver our work. I am proud to work with them and over the next few newsletters we will be introducing them to you, alongside details of our future activities and plans as they develop.