New Voices in Contemporary British Music

Sound and Music

An exhibition exploring the work of Sound and Music's New Voices composers, 2014
The 2014 New Voices are some of the most groundbreaking composers working in the UK today.

2014’s New Voices are some of the most groundbreaking composers working in the UK today. They represent a huge diversity in approaches to composition: some use pen and paper, others manipulate recorded sound, others are improvising performers.

The diversity of activities represented by the New Voices.
Martin Scheuregger, curator and New Voice.

My name is Martin Scheuregger. I'm one of the New Voices 2014 and I'm curator of this exhibition.

This exhibition is the result of my own exploration of this amazing body of work. I'll pick out just some of my favourite examples of what the New Voices do.

This is just an introduction –  explore the New Voices page of the British Music Collection website to find your own favourites!


I'm Embedded Composer-in-Residence at the British Music Collection, a collection that contains over 30,000 scores and recordings of works from the 1960s to the present day.

I'm exploring and engaging with the Collection, and writing music in response to themes that I explore.

The work of the 2014 New Voices will be added to the Collection as it continues to grow and reflect British contemporary music.

'In that solitude, by Martin Scheuregger has been performed in the UK and Australia. It is one of my works that is built on the idea of fragmentation in music.

The New Voices all go through very different processes to create their music. Aaron Holloway-Nahum is a composer who works principally with notated music. He shares with us his morning composition routine.

Aaron Holloway-Nahum, New Voice composer.

The Cave of Sounds is one of the most successful examples of interactive installation I've ever seen. Its elegant simplicity and expert execution drew me to it: this work is inclusive and fun, and most of all sounds great.

Tim Murray-Browne was Embedded with London’s Music Hackspace in 2012-13 and created an interactive sound installation: The Cave of Sounds.
Explore 'The Cave of Sounds'.
Rockmore: an instrument from The Cave of Sounds.
Lightefface: an instrument from The Cave of Sounds.
The Cave of Sounds at the Barbican, London.

Laura Bowler is one of many New Voices who has a hugely varied career and creative output: as well as a composer, she is a conductor, singer and founder of Size Zero Opera.

This diversity is mirrored in her varied but often theatrically-led music.

Laura Bowler: singer, conductor, director and New Voice.
Laura Bowler talks to the Guardian about her operatic composition based on journalist Tanya Gold.
A concert work, 'Gurgmansia', by Laura Bowler. Laura  is currently working on a music theatre multi-concerto to be premiered in May 2014.

I've been amazed by the breadth of the New Voice's work. As well as composing, many also perform music, curate events and produce and direct shows.

One of the stand-out contributors is Kate Whitley. She's the co-founder of Multi-Story – which began with a critically acclaimed performance of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in a disused multi-storey car park.

This is imaginative programming at its best.

‘The most exciting development in classical music in decades, if not centuries’ (The Times)

Kate Whitley, 2014 New Voice.
Lee Westwood, 2014 New Voice.

Lee Westwood's collaborative work 'A Hidden Order' is an example of really effective collaboration with a visual artist. The music and visuals are tied together so well, and the whole thing is executed professionally and precisely.

This work is available to see live and online, so do check it out.

Promo video for 'A Hidden Order'.
One of the visual elements of 'A Hidden Order'.
Visuals at a live show.
Performance in the context of an exhibition of the visual work.
The marimba was used prominently in Lee's score.
A single movement for flute and marimba from the show, with visuals.

New Voices composers are not afraid to push their craft to the limit.

The concept of smashing pianos seems at odds with the creation of music, but Ant Dickinson's attention to sonic detail creates this mesmerising music which blends beautifully with the visuals.

For me, the power of this work comes from the juxtaposition of the concept of destruction and the resulting music.

This short video gives a flavour of the soundworlds Ant Dickinson creates.
Wales-based composer Ant Dickinson pushes a piano off a cherry picker to see what it sounds like.
Ant Dickinson, New Voice 2014.
An album by Pierette Ensemble released in 2014.
Julie Kjær.

New Voices composers can be found performing their own music: some consider it an essential part of their craft.

Saxophonist and flautist Julie Kjær has toured nternationally and recorded with Django Bates and his band StoRMChaser, and the Danish big-band “Blood Sweat Drum’n Bass”. She also plays with London Improvisers Orchestra and is a leader of several other English and Danish ensembles.

New Voices work with orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists and choirs and more from around the UK and abroad.

Jack White struck me as  New Voice who has made the most of effective collaboration.

His work with the South Iceland Chamber Choir resulted in his increasingly popular choral work ‘Islands (Ynysoedd)’ which has further performances planned for throughout 2014.

Jack White: “Terrifically imaginative and effective” – The Daily Telegraph.
‘Islands (Ynysoedd)’ by Jack White.

New Voices work in many different areas, often collaboratively: from theatre, film and dance, to recorded sounds, installations and exhibitions.

Soosan's work first came to my attention when she was commissioned to write for the Royal Festival Hall's restored organ. Her other work shows a great diversity.

Soosan Lolavar, 2014 New Voice.
An experimental dance installation by Soosan Lolavar considering the relationship between the body and the space that encloses it. Performed at the LSE New Academic Building in February 2010 as part of their annual Literary Festival.

Occasionally composers come up with ideas which transcend music. Saskia Moore's 'Dead Symhony' struck me as one of these.

Sound is understood to be the last sense present moments before death. In 'Dead Symphony',  Saskia has documented and transcribed the music and sound experiences people have heard when losing or regaining consciousness during a near death experience.

Poster for Saskia Moore's 'Dead Symphony'.
Anton Hunter, New Voice composer and guitarist.

New Voices regularly move on from Sound and Music residencies to new opportunities.

To me, Anton Hunter really shows the professionalism of the New Voices. He has been commissioned by the Manchester Jazz Festival to create an hour-long suite of music for the 2014 festival and has received a lot of positive press attention.

“I love what they’re doing with time … there’s a great sensuality about the way they play.”– Kevin Le Gendre, Jazz on 3

Press coverage of Anton Hunter.

“Signs of real writing talent in guitarist Anton Hunter; his spiky melodic style and heavy riffs reminiscent of John Zorn’s early downtown groups.” – Chris Ackerley, The Sound Of Now

Press coverage of Anton Hunter.

“Funky, punky, angular sax/guitar-led modern jazz from this newly emerging group ... they work through evolving textural washes and noir-ish folk moods through to full on skronk. Well worth a look.” – Time Out

Press coverage of Anton Hunter.

I found the work of Nathaniel Mann fascinating and entertaining in equal measure. He was Embedded for eighteen months at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford where he explored the musical potential of old technology in the form of pigeon whistles.

Nathaniel Mann, sound explorer.
Pigeon whistles.
Nathaniel Mann explains what pigeon whistles are before a performance as part of Audible Forces.

Nathaniel's work was taken on a UK-wide tour as part of Audible Forces, and Arts Council-funded project featuring seven of the finest UK sound artists.

Pigeon Whistles as part of Audible Forces.

Some New Voices are associated as much with the art world as the music world, using sound as their medium. Dawn Scarfe manages to unite different media to create works which are more than the sum of their parts.

Tuning to Spheres, a work by Dawn Scarfe.
Dawn Scarfe takes a field recording for use in a composition.

I've been fortunate to work with some New Voices directly. As a performer I have played Benjamin Gait's music and have commissioned him as Artistic Director of Dark Inventions.

His music is heard across the North of England in the 2014 Firewheel Tour, along with two other New Voice composers.

Three New Voices are featured in Dark Inventions 2014 Firewheel Tour of British Music.

Ben gives freedom to his players in different ways. They are encouraged to make their own decisions in his scores, which invariably have an element of freedom and choice.This is true chamber music and is engaging to perform

One of Benjamin Gait's 'Three Inventions'.
Benjamin Gait, 2014 New Voice.

New Voices composers take on a lot of challenges and produce world-class music as a result. In this selection of artists you will have seen some of the major composers of the future and the most exciting composers of the present.

"One of the things I love about music..."

Scroll through the complete list of 2014 New Voices

Kim Ashton

Seth Bennett

Antoine Bertin

Eugene Birman

Shaun Blezard

Laura Bowler

Fari Bradley

Thomas Butler

Mark Carroll

Seán Clancy

Stephen Cornford

Tom Coult

Michael Cryne

Ant Dickinson

Beatrice Dillon

Satoko Doi-Luck

Benjamin Gait

Ben Gaunt

Arne Gieshoff

Vitalija Glovackyte

Clay Gold

Ben Gwilliam

Eloise Gynn

Charlotte Harding

Aaron Holloway-Nahum

Bernard Hughes

Anton Hunter

Patrick Jones

Brahim Kerkour

Matthias Kispert

Julie Kjaer

Shelly Knotts

Joanna Lee

Sarah Lianne-Lewis

Soosan Lolavar

Jamie Man

Nathaniel Mann

Chris Mayo

Egidija Medeksaite

Saskia Moore

Tim Murray-Browne

Rachel Musson

Yuko Ohara

Benjamin Oliver

Ed Perkins

Dominic Robertson (aka Ergo Phizmiz)

Dawn Scarfe

Martin Scheuregger

Jen Southern

Jacob Thompson-Bell

Jobina Tinnemans

Shiori Usui

Lee Westwood

Jack White

Kate Whitley

Daniel Wilson

Naam Zisser

Credits: Story

Curator — Martin Scheuregger
With grateful thanks to — Ralph Vaughn Williams Trust and the University of Huddersfield

Credits: All media
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