On the 7th November 2017 the British Music Collection will celebrate its landmark 50th anniversary.
Custodians of the collection Sound and Music, the national charity for new music, are thrilled to launch 12 months of #BMC50 activity. This will range from live events to edit-a-thons, guest curators to composer showcases and much, much more….
“This amazing resource has been part of my career for half a century. I used it in the sixties to find out about new music and to meet other composers. In the seventies and eighties, as BMIC, it became a wonderful library and a place that hosted concerts as well. When I taught in London I often sent students there – the only place for discovering new scores. I have continued to use it, either online or in its superb archival spaces in Huddersfield.
I salute the 50th anniversary of the British Music Collection with delight.” – Professor Nicola LeFanu, composer
A year long celebration
To mark this significant date in British cultural history, Sound and Music will put composers in the British Music Collection at the heart of the celebrations, highlighting the heritage of extraordinary music created in the UK and the wider cultural impact of its creators, as well as drawing out more marginalised voices, including those of women, black and minority ethnic and disabled composers.
Throughout the #BMC50 year audiences will also be introduced to contemporary New Voices, a growing community of composers working with Sound and Music to create new music and sound across the country, whose work is featured in the British Music Collection as part of its commitment to the heritage of the future.
For the last two weeks we’ve welcomed two students from nearby Holmfirth High School into Heritage Quay for their work experience placements. Here’s what they’ve had to say about becoming archivists for a couple of weeks, and you can see them hard at work in the photo below!
I decided to come to Heritage Quay to do my work experience, because of my love of history and my fascination with local history and knowing about our ancestors. Whilst I’ve been on this placement I’ve done some intriguing and horizon broadening activities. One day I logged volumes of books onto the online system giving me a glimpse into the inner workings of the archive catalogue, I’ve also been listening to music and researching it for upcoming listening clubs.
This experience made me think hard about my options after school and education, and completely opened my eyes to many different job opportunities that I had never before thought of. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and would gladly come again if another chance arises!
I choose to do work experience at Heritage Quay because of my interest in history and archives. While there I helped list dissertations and photography into the online database, moved books from shelf to shelf and researched various items and collections from the archives. I particularly enjoyed working on the Frobisher collection as it was extremely interesting to see a large collection of records from a single family’s history.
Although I am still uncertain about to do after school my work experience here has taught me many useful skills and shown a lot about the workings of the archives so I am very happy to have done my work experience here.
You can check out Tom and Joe’s contributions to the archive catalogue at the following links:
Heritage Quay has developed six educational films for teachers of KS1-3 students. They are based on our amazing collections and provide opportunities to explore history, the arts and music in inspiring ways. You can access the films on youtube, and download the free teachers packs using the links below. To find out more about what else we offer for schools please visit our Learn page
This film serves as an introduction to the sport collections at Heritage Quay and highlights the history of Rugby League and the sport’s close links with the town of Huddersfield. The film and the accompanying education pack provide a focus for a local history study as set out in the KS2 national curriculum.
The Arts scene in Huddersfield is a major area of strength in the archives. This film gives an introduction to the development of British theatre and highlights items from the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield Operatic and Dramatic Society, and Mikron Theatre collections.
This film gives an introduction to the history of the University of Huddersfield, highlighting the role of Frederick Schwann and the Ramsden family in its history. It provides a focus for KS2 local history study. Items shown in the film include commemorative china which marked the opening of the Ramsden building, and the bell which called students to their classes.
This film highlights the rich variety contained within the music collections at Heritage Quay. From brass bands to dance bands, contemporary music to classical, this is an accessible introduction to a range of musical genres for those studying music at primary level.
The film gives an overview of Huddersfield’s development as a textile town, highlighting the links between textiles and manufacturing, and focusing on local engineers Hopkinsons, whose archive is one of the largest and most complete at Heritage Quay. The film is a valuable starting point for a KS2 local history study, as well as supporting the KS3 themes of industry, empire and technological change. The Fabrics of India sample books shown in the film may inspire and interest textile students.
This film introduces the collections of three significant figures which are prominent in the archives – Robert Blatchford, Victor Grayson and John Henry Whitley. The film gives a brief outline of their achievements in bringing about social and industrial improvements for working people and invites the viewer to consider their legacies. The film is intended for a primary audience, however it provides a good starting point for KS3 students studying British politics between 1860 and 1939.
Music forms one of the most important strengths of the Heritage Quay collections owing to the rich and diverse musical life of the Huddersfield area. From the cutting edge performances of hcmf//, the UK’s largest international festival of new and experimental music, to the history and tradition of the region’s musical societies (Incorporated Society of Musicians, Huddersfield Branch) and ensembles (Slaithwaite Brass Band, Goldberg Ensemble) as well as the comprehensive specialist collections (Early Music, British dance bands).
It is this vivid musical tradition that brought the prestigious British Music Collection to the University in 2010. Containing over 60,000 scores and recordings of 20th and 21st century British music, this archive represents a treasure trove of musical creativity and innovation. Whether exploring the works of high-profile composers such as Britten, Tippett, Birtwistle, Weir, Maxwell Davies, and Turnage, or investigating the unpublished or currently emerging composers on the contemporary music scene, a wealth of inspiration awaits.
This month our fantastic team of student helpers have completed a huge sorting and repackaging project that has brought together all of the scores held within the British Music Collection for the first time in the Collection’s history! This is a fantastic achievement that has been 48 years in the making! To celebrate this fact, here’s the history (with a few photos ) of the British Music Information Centre, the organisation that founded the Collection in 1967.
The British Music Information Centre (BMIC) was founded in 1967 by the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain within the Guild’s central London office of 10 Stratford Place, which was also the home of The Royal Society of Musicians. The Centre was formally opened by Lord Goodman on 7 November 1967 and was established with the assistance of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Arts Council, and the Performing Right Society. The BMIC was founded as a charity and its work was dependent on grants and the external financial support that it received.
Founded at a time when national Music Information Centres were rising in popularity (following the formation of the first Centre in the USA in 1939), the BMIC was established as a drop-in centre where users could go to see and hear 20th century British classical music, and to research contemporary composers and their works. The primary function of the Centre was to act as a voluntary library of deposit where composers and publishers of 20th century British classical music could deposit scores and recordings of their work, which allowed would-be performers access to these works to study and play. All works were acquired by donation, and the collection was initially just restricted to the work of members of the Composers’ Guild, and later BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) concert music members; this restriction was later removed. The Centre defined ‘British’ music as being composed by an individual born or living in the UK. The initial core of collection was founded on the deposit of The British Council’s sheet music collection in 1967, which included material dating back to 1900. By 1969 the Centre already held 8000 scores of both published and unpublished works, as well as tapes and reference material for consultation and study. Although initially some publishers were opposed to the Centre because they believed it posed a threat of competition, over the years the BMIC gradually became accepted by more and more publishers and the Centre began to accumulate increasing amounts of published material. This made the library the only permanent collection of both published and unpublished contemporary British music and it significantly contributed to the growth of the collection in both size and diversity throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
By the 1990s the acquisition policy of the BMIC stipulated that eligible works included: work that is published by a major publisher (e.g. Boosey & Hawkes, Faber Music, Chester Music); unpublished work by professional composers of significant standing (e.g. frequently commissioned or performed by leading orchestras); work by full members of a leading professional body (e.g. BASCA, including shortlisted works for British Composer Awards); work commissioned by the BMIC as part of its projects and professional development programmes (e.g. Adopt a Composer, Embedded…); and work commissioned or funded by leading commissioners or funders (e.g. BBC, Arts Council England, PRS for Music Foundation). The Centre was aware that subjectivity influenced these criteria but in practice any disputes over inclusion/exclusion were resolved by the Director of the BMIC or by reference to the composers on the BMIC Board.
Recordings started to enter the collection during the 1970s, firstly on reel to reel tapes and vinyl records, and later on audio cassettes and CDs. The recordings in the collection included both published and private recordings donated by publishers and composers, recordings of concerts and events that took place at the BMIC and the Society for the Promotion of New Music (SPNM), and recordings of BBC Radio 3 broadcasts. A joint project with EMAS (Electro-Acoustic Music Association) in the early 1980s resulted in the Centre starting to acquire recordings of British electro-acoustic music, while during the mid-1980s the BMIC’s reel to reel tape recordings were transferred to Betamax tapes during a migration project funded by the British Library.
By 1885 over 6000 people a year visited the BMIC, with even more users contacting the Centre remotely by letter and telephone.
In addition to the Centre’s primary role as a contemporary music library, the BMIC also ran numerous projects, events and performances in order to promote contemporary British music. By 1985 over 80 events were being held annually, with performers including Michael Finnissy, Jane Manning and John McCabe, and premiers of work including music by Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Weir, Michael Finnissy and Chris Dench. Some performances were also preceeded by talks. The BMIC’s Salon series of concerts ran for 30 years until 2003 with an emphasis on programming first performances, experimental music and neglected early-mid 20th century repertoire. From the 1980s onwards, the BMIC’s rising profile and increasing number of projects resulted in the Centre working more collaboratively with other organisations to promote contemporary British music, particularly SPNM, EMAS and The Place Dance Services (TPDS).
In 1999 the BMIC established The Cutting Edge, which was an annual thirteen-week concert series held in the autumn. The Cutting Edge series, based mostly at The Warehouse, Waterloo, aimed to put contemporary music from the UK in an international context, and from 2001, each series was followed by The Cutting Edge Tour that took place May-December of the following year. The Cutting Edge Tour showcased up to 20 concerts taken from the previous year’s London series at locations across the UK, along with workshops and learning events. Also in 1999 the BMIC established the New Voices and Contemporary Voices composer support schemes. These schemes provided print, distribution and promotion services for composers at both the beginning and middle of their careers, and intended to fill the gap for composers who were looking to publish independently.
From the late 1990s onwards, with increasing pressure on finances and the rising costs of housing the collection in central London, the staff and Board began looking at alternate locations and organisational structures to manage the Centre.
In 2004 Arts Council England (ACE) instigated a proposal to create a new higher profile body for the new music sector from the merger of a number of music organisations that received funding from ACE, including the BMIC. The original idea to merge a number of music organisations into one larger body had been discussed within the sector since the 1980s but ACE initiated the 2004 project for two main reasons; firstly ACE identified the opportunity to have shared facilities within in a new building in central London (King’s Place, near King’s Cross), and secondly ACE was looking to redress the role of the Contemporary Music Network within ACE. Initially ten organisations were approached about the merger, including the African and Caribbean Music Circuit, British Music Information Centre, Contemporary Music Making for Amateurs (CoMA), Contemporary Music Network, Jazz Services, the Society for the Promotion of New Music and The Sonic Arts Network. This project, initially called The Kings Place Initiative and later The New Organisation (TNO) Project, resulted in the creation of Sound and Music from the merger of the British Music Information Centre, Contemporary Music Network, the Society for the Promotion of New Music and The Sonic Arts Network in 2008. Upon creation, Sound and Music was temporarily located in British Music House, 26 Berners Street, London, before it moved to its current location of Somerset House, The Strand.
Throughout the course of the reorganisation project both the BMIC’s collection and the financial burden of accommodating it continued to increase. The limited space and financial constraints meant that in 2002 sections of the collection had to be moved to alternate premises. Works by composers who had died before 1960 were moved to the Royal College of Music (RCM) Library, and works written before 1960 by composers who had died between 1960 and 2002 were moved to a storage facility belonging to the Performing Right Society (PRS). The material sent to the Royal College of Music Library could be accessed by researchers on site, whereas there was no public access to the PRS’s storage facility and this material could only be consulted through prior arrangement with the BMIC. In 2004 the financial pressures meant that the BMIC moved premises from 10 Stratford Place to Lincoln House, 75 Westminster Bridge Road, London. In 2007 the BMIC could no longer afford to house the collection in central London and so it was sent to a storage facility in Southend. This is where the collection remained until it was transferred, along with the RCM and PRS material, to the University of Huddersfield Archives in 2010. The collection then moved into the University’s new state-of-the-art archive facilities at Heritage Quay in 2014.
With all sections of the British Music Collection now fully catalogued, reintegrated and repackaged into archival-quality materials, the collection has never been more accessible and safeguarded for the future, so what are you waiting for! The catalogue for the Collection can be found here, and all the details that you need to know about how to visit the Collection can be found here. Enjoy!
The programme responds to different areas of our collections and there is something for (almost) everyone in there although there is a particular focus on rugby league, music and local history.
To pick out a few highlights, the Rugby League History Day in October will be brilliant – the line up of ex-players, fans and historians is looking stellar (more information to come closer to the time) and it’ll all be for free. For those wanting more detail on the history of the game, renowned historian Tony Collins will be here to run a Roots of Rugby League course over four nights, with a special focus on the Kirklees and Calderdale areas. This is apt because of rugby league’s big 120th birthday this year.
Also make sure to book for our showing of Dangerous Moonlight. Although not a wartime ‘classic’ the lush and emotional music of the Warsaw Concerto, composed specially for the film, made it incredibly popular and should get you in mood for dancing afterwards. They’ll be a bar on hand and live music to make the evening go with a swing. Those proto-band leaders amongst you can get more involved with our Conducting for Beginners workshop.
Finally, we’re kicking the season off with a special event in association with the Huddersfield and District Archaelogy Society who’ll be letting people get hands on what they’ve dug up near the buried Roman Fort at Slack. And we finish the brochure period with more history with our Hopkinsons Day, where we’ll be getting out a selection of things from the collection to jog some memories and get people interested in what we’re doing with them over the following months (you’ll have to wait until the next What’s on for the details)
The last thing I’ll mention is The Listening Room, our special group (it’s like a reading club) for music fans. We’ll be serving up a mix of tunes from our collections every month and then dicussing them to pieces over tea and cake. If you fancy joining the conversation visit our web page or join the Facebook group or of course just come along.
For more information about all the events and activities and links for booking tickets head to our website here or our Facebook page