The British Music Collection provides unparalleled access to the modern history of composition in the UK. Established in 1967 as a means for contemporary composers to deposit scores and recordings for performers to access, it now consists of almost 70,000 works and recordings from over 3000 20th and 21st century composers and sound artists.
The value in the collection is undeniable – providing access to over 50 years of contemporary composition – but it’s not without fault. The underrepresentation of female composers, or those who identify as female, across the original collection is stark, and a reminder of the progress that has been made, and must continue to happen, in and across new music.
Much of the British Music Collection now exists here online, and this provides a great opportunity to readdress this imbalance and the original aim of the collection: providing access to the work of contemporary composers.
Supporting this aim means addressing the inequality in the collection, including gender, which we believe at Sound and Music is an absolute necessity. It is only in highlighting, confronting and addressing the absence of representation that we can create a truly representative platform of contemporary composition, which celebrates all those who have contributed to its rich and exciting landscape.
This International Women’s Day centres on the theme #BalanceforBetter, emphasising the need to build a gender-balanced world that strives for equality in every field. In support of this, we will be profiling ‘A Composer a Day’ on the British Music Collection throughout March. The series will showcase 31 women composers, sound artists and performers, highlighting the diversity of ideas, perspectives and work that female composers have brought, and continue to bring, to composition in the UK.
From March 8th we will be drawing attention to the many established composers who have been previously unrepresented in the collection – exploring the past work of Imogen Holst, Rebecca Clarke and Elena Firsova.
Alongside this we will be showcasing and profiling composers and sound artists who are shaping contemporary sound and music today, taking listeners and audiences into exciting new territory - including Kaffe Matthews, Hannah Catherine Jones and Anna Clyne. In the spirit of continual expansion that forms the foundations of the British Music Collection, we will also draw attention to the profiles of composers who have only just begun to release work, reflecting the future of composition and ones to watch.
The British Music Collection is privileged to champion some of the most talented composers across modern history, and those that continue to make musical history today. We are proud to be working towards a truly representative digital space, that celebrates the essential position female composers have in contemporary composition, supporting International Women’s Day 2019 to Balance for Better.
Find out more about Sound and Music’s International Women’s Day campaign for 2019 here.
Explore the full 'A Composer a Day' list below:
Take a look back at our previous work for International Women's Day:
If you’d like to support Sound and Music’s work to champion new music and the work of all British composers and creators you can do so here.