Today (June 22) is Windrush day in the UK. It commemorates and celebrates those individuals who arrived on HMT Empire Windrush from the Caribbean in 1948 and their descendants.
If you’re interested in discovering the musical legacy of those people who came to the UK for a new life, this short series of videos look good.
The British Library has a considerable number of informative and thoughtful essays on Windrush topics including this one on Calypso and the birth of British black music.
For this post though, I’ve decided to feature five contemporary, British – Caribbean composers who also all happen to be female.
Change and diversity
If you read the post previous to this, Singing the score at home you’ll know I’m concerned by the narrow focus many classical music devotees display. To these people, the word ‘contemporary’ functions as a large, red warning light, indicating things to be avoided. Like any creative form, to thrive, classical music has to evolve, develop, and yes, change. Change is needed to reflect the society we live in, its concerns and constraints (today’s commissions or compositions rarely involve a full symphony orchestra).
Regarding the classical music canon as something fixed and unchanging does it a disservice. Diversity at the basic level is lacking. Read Diversity Now by Kevin McBrien. Although a discussion of the US music scene, it applies just as well here.
As our changed times continue, engaging with new experiences is good. You won’t enjoy everything – I don’t, but it does no harm to listen and explore. I’m grateful to the interview series immediately below for pointing me in the right direction for this post. I knew of two composers featured, but not the other three. Use this video as your companion as you browse through their music. I’m not going to say much. Instead, I’m going to let the music (and its creators) do the talking.
Shirley J Thompson
See Shirley Thompson’s website for more information.
The Woman who refused to dance
Are you worried by the rising cost of funerals?
Are you worried was commissioned and first performed by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in 1994. Wallen also wrote the poems.
Engage with Errollyn Wallen via Twitter (@ErrollynWallen) or her website. In visiting her social media, I discovered the The African Concert Series whose second season of concerts is taking place (virtually, of course) during the last week of June.
Dancing with the shadow – suite
Visit Eleanor Alberga’s website for more information.
Hannah Catherine Jones
This image is posted on British Music Collection, ‘a discovery platform for new music in the UK’ run by Sound and Music . The introductory video is their work. If this post whets your appetite in any way, head over to the British Music Collection for further inspiration.
Owed to white noise (excerpt)
Owed to Bussa
Glances / I don’t belong here
The spark catchers
For more information about Hannah Kendall’s work, visit her website.
I hope this post has opened your ears – I know it has mine.