There’re a vast range of composers in the British Music Collection, so in this feature we’ve picked out a few connected individuals for you to discover. This edition, written by Sound and Music intern Imogen Lawlor, features 5 composers from North-East England.
The British Music Collection is an excellent resource on British composers and their music. As part of my internship at Sound and Music, I’ve picked out five composers in the collection who are from the North East of England. With music often being very London and South-East centred, it is important to highlight the wealth of music-making and talent that is happening across Britain.
Will Todd is an English composer, pianist and presenter from County Durham. He attended Durham School on a full music scholarship and was also awarded a scholarship by the Stanley Picker Trust to further his composition studies at the University of Bristol. His output mostly consists of choral works such as oratorios and cantatas. Will is also an experienced jazz pianist and many of his works incorporate jazz harmonies. Many of Will’s compositions and arrangements have been performed at high profile events. His anthem ‘The Call of Wisdom’ was performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and his arrangement of ‘Amazing Grace’ featured in President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day prayer service in 2013.
Janet Graham is a composer, piano teacher and music therapist based in Durham and North East England. She was born near Consett in County Durham and studied with James Iliff and Elizabeth Lutyens at the Royal Academy of Music. Her works have been broadcast frequently on BBC Radio 3 and two of her pieces were selected for the BBC Young Composer’s Forum in 1978. Janet is also trained in music therapy and has worked as a music therapist for the NHS and branches of the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre. In 2007, Janet returned to the North East and continued to work for Nordoff Robbins at their North East centres. She has also set up new music therapy projects, run music therapy courses and has continued to work in hospitals and care homes. Since her retirement, she has been composing music for local groups in Durham to perform.
Alexander Proudlock is a composer and performer from Newcastle upon Tyne. He studied composition and performance with Dr. David Horne at the Royal Northern College of Music and also holds a master’s in composition at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with Christopher Austin. His works have been performed by ensembles such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Northern Film Orchestra and Manchester Chamber Orchestra. Furthermore, Alexander’s music has featured at festivals including the Northern Chords Festival and the London Independent Film Festival. Alexander mostly writes for choirs and orchestras, and he also has experience scoring for films. In early 2020, Alexander was commissioned to score a film by Sunday for Sammy: an arena tour across the UK beginning at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle. All funds from the tour and DVD sales will be going towards grants for young artists in the North East of England.
Joanna Ward is a composer, performer, curator and producer from Newcastle upon Time. She began composing with Dr Chris Randall at the Centre for Advanced Training at the Sage Gateshead. Joanna holds a first-class degree in music from the University of Cambridge where she studied composition with Richard Causton. She is currently completing a masters in composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with Cassandra Miller. Joanna enjoys working across difference genres, forms and media. This includes theatrical pieces, ambient music, collaged and collaborative aesthetics, as well as incorporation of her deep love of pop music. Joanna also takes a political approach to composing by engaging with contemporary feminist, queer and decolonial thinking. She has previously worked with Sound and Music as a Next Wave 2 Composer. Joanna is also one half of the multi-instrumentalist duo the mermaid café and was on the committee for the inaugural Cambridge Female Composer Festival.
Jamie Cook, a. k. a. HOWZAT, is a sound designer, musician and performer based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Jamie studied music at Newcastle University where he specialised in electronics and composition, as well as spending a research year studying Sonic Arts at The University of Adelaide, South Australia. Jamie’s works make use creative applications on technology in a variety of media, including live performance, film and audio media. In addition to his music, Jamie also enjoys interdisciplinary collaboration with other artists. He is the artistic director of ‘Cooking With Three’, a committee member of PUG (a performance club night in Newcastle and Gateshead) and is the co-director of ‘The Occasion Collective’.
Imogen Lawlor is a master's student at Goldsmiths University of London, on the MA Popular Music Research course. She writes about rap music and is currently completing a dissertation on mainstream representations of UK rap scenes. She is also a classical violinist.
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