The UK’s first crowd funding scheme for classical music will celebrate the completion of its 75th commission this month. Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) set up its Sound Investment programme in 1991. Its aim was to raise much-needed funds to support living composers through the commissioning of new music. Music fans can ‘invest’ set sums of money, which allows BCMG to commission new work. The Sound Investors are then invited to hear the premiere of their works as well as visit rehearsals and meet the composer and performers.
Noteworthy composers who have benefitted from the scheme include Judith Weir, recently named Master of the Queen’s Music, and Thomas Adés, considered one of the most important figures in British classical music.
You may remember early last year the American composer David Lang was in Birmingham to premiere his newly commissioned piece Crowd Out, a musical work for 1000 shouting, singing and talking voices. The work was performed in Millennium Point by local people, including myself (I’m actually in the image above). This was also funded by the Sound Investment programme.
BCMG Artistic Director Stephen Newbould explains:
When we set up Sound Investment in 1991 it was ahead of the time. This was the era before the internet and the term ‘crowd funding’ was not yet common parlance. The scheme has allowed us to commission a great number of composers, giving established names free reign to try new creative ideas, and giving a step-up to others who are right at the start of their career. I truly believe that it has been essential in keeping contemporary classical music alive and vibrant in this country.
The 75th Sound Investment commission, Gerald Barry’s Crossing the Bar, will be premiered at the Wigmore Hall in London later this month before a performance at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham.