Promoting Your Own Events

Case Studies

Rob Guy, Steve Pycroft and Chris Swithinbank, Members, Raise Your Voice Collective

Raise Your Voice Collective is a group of young, talented composers and performers based in Manchester. We believe passionately in combining and benefiting from our members’ diverse talents and experience, to give vital and fresh performances of music in ways that encourage the audience to re-evaluate their preconceptions. At our core is an ensemble of seven musicians who perform regularly at our curated nights of new music in unusual venues, focusing on works by young composers from the North West.

We felt that new music often suffered from being closeted in universities and classical concert halls and that cross-fertilisation of music and audiences could cast new light on the music that we made and the music that we loved. Through Raise Your Voice we hope to be able to provide a platform for music that might otherwise go unheard and introduce it to audiences that might not come into contact with it. To this end, our nights take place in venues where the strictures of classical performance are broken down. Two venues in Manchester’s Northern Quarter have provided relaxed spaces where the audience can drink, chat, and come and go as they please.

Fundamentally we are traditional performers. We receive scores from composers and take those through rehearsal to performance. However, we are very keen to work as much as possible with composers on their music. We feel that while our own interpretation should add and expand upon the intentions set down by a composer, it is one of the great benefits of performing the music of today that we can work face-to-face with composers, bringing the composer into the ensemble and enabling a dialogue. That several of our performers are also composers allows us insights on both sides of the creative process, which hopefully enables us to better understand the challenges that composers face today. Often it helps for the process of bringing a new work to performance not to be a two-way thing; we all have things we can learn from each other.

Our attitude from the outset has been that, with hard work and commitment, we can create our own opportunities and tailor the whole audience experience. This means finding venues and pushing the performances from the ground up. Too many people claim that there are no opportunities. Of course, there should always be more available to support such ventures, but we believe that if you have the passion and the ability, it is always possible to build your own opportunities. From this point of view, Manchester is a very exciting place to be. The city offers a rich diversity of culture, but it remains compact and allows smaller, upstart voices to make a real impact. It takes initiative and hard work to put together a single performance, but the rewards are worth it.”

Raise Your Voice Collective
Raise Your Voice Collective is a group of young composers and performers based in Manchester, UK, drawing on our varied backgrounds as classical performers, experimental improvisers, sound artists, DJs and pop musicians to promote new and exciting music made in Manchester for Manchester. Raise Your Voice Collective was founded by Rob Guy, Steve Pycroft and Chris Swithinbank, but just as important as these guys are all the performers and composers involved in our events.

Tom Hammond, Artistic Director, Sound Collective

How did Sound Collective start and how has it evolved?

Sound Collective is still evolving. [It has been] seven years now since it was formed. We started through a series of conversations with musicians who all felt that the facts of life in the music business were short-changing them as artists; lack of rehearsal time, predictable and lazy programming, lack of input from musicians when a conductor totally dominates an ensemble (not just in rehearsals, but in every way).

In fact, we only got together to do a one-off concert for charity in the very beginning. We chose a really interesting programme between us (about four people were originally involved) but made more time than is usually available to rehearse. The concert was such a success that we decided it had to carry on. Seven years later we're still doing projects (although only a handful at the moment). We are now in the process of trying to become more permanent and better organised. Projects are being planned much further in advance (typically two years from idea to performance) so I think the next two to three years will be very interesting.
Part of evolving is allowing yourself to make mistakes and to learn from them. For example, one concert saw us being expanded to 50 musicians to play two big symphonies. Great as the performance was, it was just too many people to allow the democratic elements we originally strove for to work. We then realised an ideal size for Sound Collective was no more than 15 people.

What are some recent examples of your work?

Recent examples include performances in festivals (Tunbridge Wells, Little Missenden) and performance/education projects such as the 'Classical Remix' project funded by Arts Council England.

Our relationship with Trinity College of Music is ongoing. Other plans in development include a collaboration with a youth orchestra in Cornwall and a commercial CD.

I would be a liar if I didn't admit that we make things up as we go along in terms of development and support. Music is that kind of a world unless you're in the commercially-viable end of the sector. For those of us who aren't, it is always a bit chaotic because the bottom line is that you can't fund it from ticket sales.

So, for example, with the two festivals above I am known to the artistic directors and I worked with them to plan programmes, set budgets etc. For 'Classical Remix' I attended about three million meetings with project partners and stayed up all night writing the funding application. If I even began to think about how much work goes into the group for which I am not paid, I would simply cry…

Tom Hammond
Sound Collective is a UK-based classical music group. The ensemble is formed of leading musicians from British orchestras and chamber groups. Programmes often combine less well-known works by the great masters with contemporary music and the cornerstones of the repertoire. Education and participation is becoming increasingly important to the work of the ensemble. Formed in 2003, Sound Collective has worked with members of the Philharmonia, London Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera, RTE Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and Royal Ballet Sinfonia.

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