Michael Finnissy

Michael Finnissy

Michael Finnissy

NCG is delighted that Michael has agreed to be patron

He writes

It has been one of the most important mainstays of my life as a composer, and one of my greatest enthusiasms, to have been closely involved with CoMA, indeed from its inception, and preceded by working alongside the East London Late Starters Orchestra.

I was particularly gladdened by their initial approach as my teacher at the Royal College, Bernard Stevens, was also passionately committed to amateur music-making, not least as a member of the Workers’ Music Association during the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

My income has mainly come from working as a repetiteur, and dance-class accompanist, and latterly from academic teaching at Southampton University. So I am not really, and have never thought of myself as, a ‘professional composer’. I am both patient and painstaking about my work, I regard it as sonic photography and documentation (rather than fiction), and I relish the fuss it provokes in some quarters.

In recent years most of my work has been given at churches, at ‘underground’ and mostly small-scale venues, performed with great enthusiasm largely by non-professionals. So I truly regard myself as your colleague, friend, and co-worker. I am definitely not ‘management’.

I also think that creative people are of a far greater value to the community (or to society at large) than is generally acknowledged, particularly by the popular media. We should value our ‘alternative’ and ‘minority’ status: it gives us far greater freedom of action; we should not be made to feel awkward or bad about our ‘weird ideas’ – as (to paraphrase Schoenberg) the majority of people would never venture to discover the North or South pole, never climb Everest, or sail or fly single-handed around the world – the greatest journeys and risks are taken by the fewest numbers of people. Michael Tippett once wrote to me that being a composer was like crossing a vast desert on your own, and without a map.I look forward to getting to know you in the forthcoming months and years.

Michael Finnissy’s Website