New Voices is Sound and Music's artist development programme for new ideas, new sounds and new music. It draws on the models from our previous Embedded, Portfolio and Pathways programmes, and on the partnerships and expertise nurtured through these schemes.
Vula Viel's Bex Burch reflects on the New Voices experience
First up is composer, performer and gyil player Bex Burch. In the video below, Bex reflects on her time on New Voices 2018, its influence on her work as Vula Viel, and how it has come to shape her identity as a composer.
Filming Credits: - Louise Boer - Arte Concerts, Moers Festival - Bex Burch, Jim Hart, Ruth Goller - Sam Corcoran
Vula Viel's latest album, What's Not Enough About That?, was made possible by Sound and Music's New Voices programme and supported by PRS Foundation, Cockayne, RVW Trust, The London Community Foundation, Garrick Charitable Trust and Arts Council England.
Gugak Sounds on her New Voices project
Next - we interviewed Damilola Eniola (Gugak Sounds) who was also part of New Voices 2018. Dami is a composer and performer who plays the Janggu and Gayageum. Inspired by Korean and Western traditions, Dami looks for dynamic ways of mixing the music of various cultures in her compositional work. As she approached the final stages of creating her piece, we were interested to find out how being on New Voices shaped her creative practice and thinking. We got together to discuss how her project, Enlightened, had developed over the past year, and if her time on New Voices had impacted her approach to creating work.
What form will the project take?
There’s going to be an exhibition, combining both visual artwork and sound. There will be electronic music representing each artwork that people can listen to at the exhibition or online. At the private view I will have a live performance where my composition will be performed in full. The composition is written for percussion, cello, yangqin, daegeum and geoumungo. This will be at the Menier Gallery in December. It will be running for a week
How much has the idea for your project changed since you started the New Voices programme?
At the beginning I didn’t have a solid plan for what the project would be. But I wanted to collaborate with a visual artist. But when the artist brought ideas and things to me I felt no connection to them and I was thinking to myself - how am I going to write music based on what I don’t connect to? So, I thought, OK, why don’t I give it a try? I’ve always been interested in the art world, I studied art as well, so it was an opportunity to bring my wider knowledge and my feelings to life, which is very important to me.For me as a composer its always been important that whatever my music represents I have to have a connection with it. So, moving on I tried to secure another artist, who could explain how I felt better. But funnily enough it was the first artist who said to me ‘why don’t you just do it yourself? You don’t need me, you have a better way of explaining this thing yourself.’
Do you think the New Voices programme has helped you in this process?
Yes, it has helped me, because it’s made me realise what I want to work in and the type of music I want to be making. It’s also helped me to be able to stand on my own as a composer without having to rely on a lot of things. Especially the financial aspect. Because I’m being supported, I’m able to make very fair and straightforward decisions and it’s really helped a lot.
Because of that support, it’s helped me discover myself as a person as well, because when you don’t have that much burden you can focus on what you really want. It’s made me become really assertive, but I’m still scared.
Liz Dilnot Johnson's search for Scintilla
Marking the culmination of her New Voices 2018 project, Scintilla, we presented 3 films by composer Liz Dilnot Johnson in collaboration with filmmaker Oli Clark. Watch The Search for Scintilla, which documents Liz's experience and explores the creative processes behind the project.
Supriya Nagarajan on her trip to India as part of New Voices 2018
Composer and performer Supriya Nagarajan visited India to carry out a ‘tea residency’ for her project as part of the programme. In this blog post reflecting on her trip, Supriya talked us though her time in Darjeeling, and the invaluable research opportunities this experience provided.
"My journey into the tea plantations of Darjeeling began with a cup of tea in a teahouse in Finland. I had not realised the extent of my love for tea until I went across to work in Finland where the brew of choice is coffee. One of my colleagues at the Metropolia University, who incidentally is my tea buddy now, took me across to Théhuone (Finnish for tea house). Sitting with a pot of Kashmiri Chai, listening to Finnish love ballads I was struck by the universality of tea as a drink. Being a musician, I wanted to explore that thread of thought further and The Sound of Tea was born."
"The trip has been invaluable in setting me on the path of making music in response to tea. I am now more aware of what I need to look for and the tea ceremonies and practices that I need to research. There was also an undercurrent of how the benefits of tea are eluding the people who work in the plantations and I intend to research the tea routes from a century ago and any lasting impact on the tea communities in places like Darjeeling."
"The tea residency was part of my New Voices programme with Sound and Music, and I may still have to call on the lovely team there to help me with the tea tasting as I commence the composition of my first music piece reflecting my experiences in Darjeeling."
Mella Faye on her work with the University of Essex Performing Arts Department
As part of the current New Voices 2019 cohort, composer and performance artist Mella Faye worked with the University of Essex Performing Arts Department, finding new ways to collaborate under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read an extract from Mella's blog below.
"Last week I worked with the brilliant Performing Arts Department at Essex Uni. The week was booked back in 2019 when we conspired to deliver an artist residency in the actual-real-life-flesh. The plan was that we would collaborate with the students to create a chorus for our new production Oedipus Electronica, and perform a preview of it at the lovely Lakeside Theatre on campus. Covid-19 got in the way of all that, but in March this year, the head of department got in touch and asked me if I'd be happy to run the intensive residency online instead. At a time when my inbox was filling up with cancellations and postponements, it was a joy to get some positive news."
"It was new territory for all of us, and there was some trepidation about the new plan, shared by all students and staff involved. The main concern being, 'how can we work with a performance artist when we're not even in the same room as each other?'."
"I now have a few answers to that question, but at the time, I only had one; We go back to basics. So, we spent the week diving into story. When I begin a new piece of work, I always start with story and sound. We didn't attempt any sound/composition work together, but we ripped deep into story arc, character and form."
Sound and Music gratefully acknowledges support from PRS Foundation as a Talent Development Partner:
Sound and Music is funded by public funding from Arts Council England