Sound and Music Honorary Patrons  

Michael Berkeley //  Kuljit Bhamra  // Judith Weir   

Michael Berkeley, Kuljit Bhamra and Judith Weir are admired internationally for their music as well as their advocacy for new music and the work of composers. They are inspiring figures within British music, and role models for the younger generation of composers and musicians. We are honoured that they have agreed to become Honorary Patrons and thus lend their names to Sound and Music's cause.

Susanna Eastburn, Chief Executive of Sound and Music, commented: 

'Having three such illustrious figures in British musical life agree to become our first ever Honorary Patrons is a mark of how far the organisation has come. The work of Sound and Music to support and champion new music, and the work of composers of all kinds, feels more important than ever to ensure a healthy and vibrant future for music. We are deeply grateful to MichaelKuljit and Judith for their support and endorsement.' 

What our Honorary Patrons said about us:

Michael Berkeley

'It would be hard to think of a time when composers have been more in need of an organisation like Sound and Music. We have such a splendid cornucopia of compositional talent yet times have rarely been as hard or as confusing, especially for the emerging generation. 

'Sound and Music does a vital job of focussing and co-ordinating the promotion and representation of this most vivid and wonderful art form, one to which so many others arts aspire.'  - Michael Berkeley

Kuljit Bhamra     

'Sound and Music is one of the very few organisations that support upcoming and professional composers to create new musical works. The organisation creates projects and platforms where creators can develop their careers. In a challenging time where commissioned work is rare, this work is essential.

'I have had the privilege of working on various projects with Sound and Music and have seen first hand how its projects make a difference. The musical community would be at a loss without such an organisation!' - Kuljit Bhamra

Judith Weir         

'Musical creativity in the UK needs a champion, and that is Sound and Music. I am glad to contribute to its work.' - Judith Weir 

About our Honorary Patrons 

Michael Berkeley 

Michael Berkeley was born in 1948, the eldest son of the composer Sir Lennox Berkeley and a godson of Benjamin Britten. As a chorister at Westminster Cathedral, singing naturally played an important part in his early education. He studied composition, singing, and piano at the Royal Academy of Music but it was not until his late twenties, when he went to study with Richard Rodney Bennett that Berkeley began to concentrate exclusively on composing.

In 1977 he was awarded the Guinness Prize for Composition; two years later he was appointed Associate Composer to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Since then Michael’s music has been played all over the globe and by some of the world’s finest musicians. Berkeley was later appointed Associate Composer to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, during which he composed notable works such as Or Shall We Die?, Organ Concerto and Concerto for Orchestra.

Berkeley currently presents Radio 3's Private Passions and was Chairman of the Governors of The Royal Ballet from 2003 to 2012.

Recent compositions include Magna Carta Te Deum, commissioned by Lincoln Cathedral to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta; a Violin Concerto for the BBC Proms, which will be premiered on 27th July 2016 by Chloe Hanslip, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Jac van Steen; and Haiku, a collection of miniatures for solo piano, which will be premiered at the 2016 Presteigne Festival.

Berkeley was appointed a CBE for services to music in 2012 and has been made an independent peer in the House of Lords.

Find out more about Michael 

Kuljit Bhamra

One of the most inspiring musicians in the British Indian music scene, Kuljit has composed and produced over 2000 songs and is responsible for the rise to fame of numerous Bhangra and Bollywood stars. A pioneer of the worldwide Bhangra phenomenon, he combined traditional Indian rhythms with western instruments and recording techniques, thus transforming Punjabi music into a new dance-floor sound.

He has worked, both independently and collaboratively, on film scores including the soundtrack for the award winning Bhaji on the Beach, A Winter of Love, Bend it Like Beckham and appearances on The Guru, The Four Feathers, Brick Lane, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, A Little Princess, Wings of a Dove, Jadooand the recent television drama Indian Summers.

Theatre includes: Bombay Dreams (as on-stage percussionist); The Far Pavilions (as writer), Deranged Marriage, Lion of Punjab, Hansel & Gretel, The Snow Queen, The Ramayana, Laila Majnun, King Cotton, Bombay Gold, Mapping the Edge and his own production Chutney in The Street!

He was the last Artistic Director of The Society For The Promotion of New Music (spnm)  - the first British Asian and self-taught-musician to hold this post in its 65 year history. During office there, Kuljit spearheaded innovative projects such as Bhangra Latina, Folk from Here, Raga Mela and Tablature!  - a new tabla notation system which allows students from differing backgrounds to learn the instrument.

In partnership with Exeter University and The Southbank Centre, Kuljit has created a touring exhibition called The Southall Story and a digital archive of the cultural history of Southall, and his passion for making Indian music and instruments more accessible to non-Indians has led him to create a range of educational materials called Demystifying Indian Music.

Kuljit is the recipient of many awards including a platinum disc for outstanding record sales presented by the much-loved BBC Radio DJ John Peel. His cutting-edge projects and educational work earned him an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list 2009. The citation reads 'For Services To Bhangra & British Asian Music' and is the first time that these genres have been acknowledged in this way.

Find out more about Kuljit 

Judith Weir

Judith Weir was born into a Scottish family in 1954, but grew up near London. She was an oboe player, performing with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and studied composition with John Tavener during her schooldays. She went on to Cambridge University, where her composition teacher was Robin Holloway; and in 1975 attended summer school at Tanglewood, where she worked with Gunther Schuller. After this she spent several years working in schools and adult education in rural southern England; followed by a period based in Scotland, teaching at Glasgow University and RSAMD.

During this time she began to write a series of operas (including King Harald’s Saga, The Black Spider, A Night at the Chinese Opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom and Blond Eckbert) which have subsequently received many performances in the UK, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and the USA. The most recent opera is Miss Fortune, premiered at Bregenz in 2011, and then staged at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 2012. 

As resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s, she wrote several works for orchestra and chorus (including Forest, Storm and We are Shadows) which were premiered by the orchestra’s then Music Director, Simon Rattle. She has been commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Music Untangled and Natural History) the Minnesota Orchestra (The Welcome Arrival of Rain) and the London Sinfonietta (Tiger under the Table); and has written concert works for some notable singers, including Jane Manning, Dawn Upshaw, Jessye Norman and Alice Coote. Her latest vocal work is Good Morning, Midnight, premiered by Sarah Connolly and the Aurora Orchestra in May 2015.

She now lives in London, where she has had a long association with Spitalfields Music Festival; and in recent years has taught as a visiting professor at Princeton, Harvard and Cardiff universities. Honours for her work include the Critics’ Circle, South Bank Show, Elise L Stoeger and Ivor Novello awards, a CBE (1995) and the Queen’s Medal for Music (2007). In 2014 she was appointed Master of The Queen’s Music in succession to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. In January 2015 she became Associate Composer to the BBC Singers.

Much of her music has been recorded, and is available on the NMC, Delphian and Signum labels. In 2014-15 there were releases of The Vanishing Bridegroom  (NMC) and Storm (BBC Singers/Signum).  Judith Weir’s music is published by Chester Music and Novello & Co.  She blogs about her experiences of cultural life in the UK at

Find out more about Judith 

Sound and Music is the UK’s leading development agency for new music and a charity.

Our mission is to maximise the opportunities for people to create and enjoy new music.

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