The AHRC and BBC Radio 3 have launched an exciting new funding call for researchers to celebrate and raise awareness of classical composers from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
The call is open to applications from arts and humanities researchers from all disciplines, at any stage in their career, and offers funding of up to £5,000 for individuals to explore the work of a single historical composer (rather than a contemporary, living figure). Music by those composers will also be performed by BBC ensembles, giving audiences a chance to hear repertoire that is often underrepresented on concert programmes.
As the call states:
The lack of diversity in classical music is widely acknowledged but the opportunities to listen to and learn about composers from diverse ethnic backgrounds is often scarce. This project will help to shine a light on this, while also enabling the public to hear new works, that perhaps until now, have not received the wider recognition they deserve. The outcomes will therefore address prejudices that exist and are perpetuated, not just within society and institutions, but within the classical music canon, while bringing to the fore immensely talented composers and music that deserves to be presented alongside what is considered the traditional repertoire.
We would like to encourage researchers interested in applying to this call to explore the British Library’s collections of printed and manuscript scores, sound recordings and archival documents.
Some figures have already received a certain amount of attention, such as Ignatius Sancho (c.1729–1790), George Bridgetower (1778–1860), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912) and John Mayer (1930–2004). But as well as providing an opportunity to explore their lives and works in more detail, this call offers a chance to uncover other voices that may be lying silent; hidden among the British Library’s collection of approximately 1.6 million items of printed music, tens of thousands of volumes of manuscript and archival material and over 6.5 million sound recordings.
The call offers us a chance to learn too, about what, how and why things have been collected in the past. We hope that new discoveries, enhanced knowledge and increased awareness will help us to continue to expand our collections, to better represent the full diversity of contemporary and historical music making for future generations.
If you are a researcher applying to this call and would like advice about engaging with British Library collections in your proposal, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Image: Manuscript page from 'Ballade in A minor', Coleridge-Taylor's first great success (British Library Add. MS 63802, f.1,Copyright © The British Library Board).