Late Music started in York in 1984 as Soundpool and comprised a number of local composers and musicians. By the time I can on the scene in 1989, this has dwindled to just two composers – Michael Parkin and Anthony Adams – who were doing everything. In due course they indicated they were ready to move on and, in 1991, it was handed over to myself and Steve. At first we continued under the name of Soundpool and did the concerts in the Chapel at York St John’s University. In 1995, we moved to the Arts Centre (now sadly closed) and it was the Arts Centre manager Martin Pople who suggested we turn the concert series into a Festival and call it the Late Music Festival, which we did.
Between 1991 and 2008 – the year I left to form the Grimsby St Hughs Festival – we put 148 concerts of new music and gave 97 world premieres. We brought a huge variety of performers to York ranging from the Smith Quartet to the Hilliard Ensemble to Ensemble Expose and Roderick Williams. In the later years of my time there, we also undertook an increasingly ambitious education outreach programme in partnership with City of York Council
Late Music, I am pleased to say, continues to programme first rate new music performed by first rate performers despite ever changing economic circumstances and arts funding policies. Long may it continue.
Grimsby St Hughs Festival
In 2007, I successfully applied for the St Hughs Foundation’s annual grant. This is quite a substantial single grant made once a year to a creative person or arganisation living and/or working in Lincolnshire to do work that enriches the Linconshire arts offer. I applied to write two new pieces – Seven Starfall Songs and String Quartet No 1 – and to put on a short Festival in which these two pieces would be premiered. Additional Arts Council funding enabled me to invite The Sixteen to headline the Festival. This all went so well that there were calls to make it an annual Festival and I did this for a further three years
Naturally in an area like Grimsby, I had to be more careful about how much new music was programmed. I never programmed any extremely radical music. However about half the total music programmed was by living composers and it was generally well received.
One of the highlights was the 2010 British Song Day which comprised three concerts and a talk about 20th and 21st century British Song with a number of new song cycles including one we commissioned from Emily Hall. The Day went so well that, in due course we got much of the new songs onto CD – Songs Now: British Songs of the 21st Century.
By 2013, I had collaborated with Annabel McCourt on a number of her films but we had never conceived a new project together from scratch. Vestiges started following discussions Annabel had had with a local priest in her home town of Barton-upon-Humber. This priest was happy for arts projects to take place in his church. This brought to my mind Linda Ingham’s Heavy and Light installation at Grimsby Minster which had greatly impressed me. Linda had done a number of fairly small 3D paperworks and we had hung them in various obscure parts of the church. She told the audience how many of these pieces there were but not where they were. This resulted in the audience noticing aspects of the church itself while they were seeking out the art. It was, I said to Annabel, as if the church itself had become one of the artworks
I formed Sounds lyrical in 2013 following a Song Day at the Late Music concert series. The group comprises four poets - Andy Humphrey, Lizzi Linklater, Rose Drew and Alan Gillott and four composers - myself, David Lancaster, Tim Brooks and Peter Byrom Smith. The idea is that we work together to create new songs. Our performances comprise readings of the poems immediately followed by a performance of that poem's musical setting. We perform at literary and poetry events as well as in concert and we have appeared at the Ryedale book Festival, the bridlington Poerty Festival, York 800 and the Ilkley Fringe Festival as well as done Arts Council funded regular concerts at the Basement in City Screen, York.