NCG is delighted that Michael has agreed to be patron
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.