As ever (at the moment !) the 2022 Ivors Composer Awards were above all a welcome occasion to catch up with many people I hadn't seen since before the pandemic, now almost three years worth of absent friends. Although not so easy to re-connect in the crowded foyers of the British Museum basement where conversation soon became inaudible.
I was very fortunate this year to receive the Academy Fellowship, presented onstage by my dear composer colleague, Shirley Thompson. This meant that, unlike nearly all the awardees, I hadn't had to sit through a shortlist of my peers before the winner of my category was declared. The Awards are warmly presented, carefully judged, and bestowed in a technically expert ceremony. BBC hosts Hannah Peel and Tom Service also did a wonderful job summarising all that was happening. But I wish there was a way to showcase the great range of new music happening over the last year (as this event does) without disappointing four-fifths of the composers present, and indeed suggesting that in a subtle artform like ours, there are "winners".
Be that as it may, there *are* Ivors winners, and they have the opportunity to speak briefly after their award, like in the Oscars. This year, several awardees mentioned the miserable cuts proposed by ACE - and why wouldn't we, when these have particularly focused on new music and opera. Our community is shell-shocked by this, so it was good to feel the solidarity in the room. But at present it feels as if we musicians are 'preaching to the choir' when we try to campaign. The arts bureaucrats need also to hear from our audiences and communities, and from politicians in the places affected, who can confirm what damage this will cause. Having already been particularly impacted by Brexit and Covid, it shouldn't just be up to musicians to argue for their own futures.
Pictured - the amazing British Museum Great Court. But we Ivors guests were soon ushered downstairs to the more workmanlike lecture theatre and neighbouring foyers.