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Seize the Time

Now’s the moment for composers to advocate for their heritage. New spnm Artistic Director Deirdre Gribbin thinks so.

It is a hugely exciting moment to be working as a composer in this country. New centuries take a while to gear up and the beginnings of centuries have always historically been a significant time in the development and direction of music. Often music follows the trends set by the visual arts and at the moment there is a great deal of media attention on contemporary visual art and contemporary literature through highly publicised events such as The Turner prize and The Booker Prize.

There are also thriving vociferous personalities in the guises of Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst and Zadie Smith, to name but a few who are involved directly as practitioners of these art-forms. They are excellent public exponents and attract many fans, which is a good thing and something that we as creative artists should be looking at very closely. These artists convey a strong message, with which the wider public have a deep resonance, often with arts-practice, which is as challenging as any new music work. Why is ‘new’ a positive good thing for these and not for music?

Why do the wider public ooze enthusiastically en-masse about a must see exhibition or an exciting new play or novel but still as a general rule, sniff at the prospect of an evening of new music? There are of course isolated exceptions and very positive reaction and response to new music events but in the context of contemporary culture, new music is still seen to be difficult and on the fringe and this is reflected in scant media coverage and in small audiences.

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© 2005 Deirdre Gribbin
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"To place a new work between these masterpieces was to measure it against giants.

Yet, extraordinary as it may seem, Deirdre Gribbin’s What the Whaleship Saw seemed every bit as mesmerising as the Haydn or Bartok."

Richard Morrison
June 2004 The Times