To classical music abuse survivors – please do let me or the Home Office know of your wishes for the inquiryPosted: December 4, 2014
I will be attending the meeting about the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse at the Home Office on Monday December 8th, to accompany a survivor from a music school. This meeting is one of several to consult with abuse survivors and their representatives on their wishes for the national inquiry (here is an account of the meeting which took place at the end of October).
The website for the inquiry is here – this includes details of the Terms of Reference for the inquiry, the panel, and various other factors.
Amongst the major issues which have come up are whether the inquiry is to be statutory and judge-led, thus having statutory powers to demand evidence from institutions, where the cut-off point should be (at present the inquiry plans to look at events from 1970 onwards, but have indicated they may be prepared to go back further), and of course which institutions are to be considered.
I believe that the Home Secretary are serious about really listening to what survivors want from this inquiry, and what aspects will make them feel safe about participating, in the sense of being prepared to speak to the panel about their own experiences and other information. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for such an inquiry, and I have good reason to believe that the panel may seriously look into abuse in musical education.
With this in mind, I want to call upon all survivors either to let me know of their wishes in this respect (either by posting here, under a pseudonym if desired, or e-mailing me on email@example.com ), preferably before Monday, or to contact directly the Director of Safeguarding at the Home Office, John O’Brien, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I assure everyone who contacts me (and they can e-mail me at email@example.com ) that confidentiality will be absolutely respected, but also that I will forward their wishes as they stand. The important thing is that the Home Office and the Inquiry Secretariat hear what you think, not just what I have to say.
Some survivors and organisations have indicated their intention to withdraw from participation (see this open letter). Whilst having immense respect for some of the signatories of this, and sharing some of their concerns, I do believe that constructive, critical engagement is the better option. We have come a long way in getting this far, and I would worry that if the inquiry ends up being postponed until after the general election, its future may be in jeopardy. I am prepared to believe the view of Labour MP Tom Watson that his political opponent, the Home Secretary Theresa May, is committed to this inquiry and getting to the truth, unlike some of her political colleagues. I was very impressed at the last meeting I attended and want to encourage people in the classical music world to participate and make their views known.
The following is an interview I did with composer Michael Finnissy just before a performance I gave of his notorious piano cycle English Country-Tunes in February 2009, connected to a Finnissy festival organised jointly between Plymouth University and Dartington College. It was published in the journal Notations, Volume 1: Music and Evolution (February 2009).
The following is an interview I gave with Philip Clark, published in International Piano in the November-December 2006 issue.
[UPDATE: I have been informed of the omission of the student award in the 2014 list (this was not included in the earlier years either, as it is awarded in a different fashion and so does not appear on the shortlists). I would thus like to point out that in this category there was one ethnic minority award given this year. More broadly, I would stress that the issue is not of the decisions of this award-giving body, with respect to ethnicity, gender, or any other factor, considering that nominations come externally and are not determined by the BCA, but of the lack of representation of ethnic minorities within the field of new music in general. This is an issue which needs debating more widely.]
A year I published an article on here looking at the representation of British-born ethnic minorities in the British Composer Awards. Following the announcement of the 2014 awards yesterday, I wanted to update the figures I provided then.
2003: 100% white (11 awards)
2004: 100% white (11 awards)
2005: One composer of African/Afro-Caribbean origin, all others white (Radio 3 listeners award) (11 awards)
2006: 100% white (12 awards)
2007: 100% white (13 prizes)
2008: 100% white (11 prizes awarded)
2009: One composer of African/Afro-Caribbean origin, all others white (in jazz category) (13 prizes awarded)
2010: Two composers of East Asian origin (chamber, and international) (13 prizes awarded).
2011: 100% white (13 awards)
2012: 100% white (13 awards)
2013: One composer of East Asian origin (international award) (14 awards, one joint).
2014: 100% white (13 awards)
Total number of awards given 2003-2014: 148. Total number of white composers: 143. Thus 96.6% white composer winners.
Total number of awards given to British Composers: 140. Total number of white composers: 137. Thus 97.9% white composer winners.
Of the five non-white winners, two have been winners of the international award, one of the chamber award, one of the jazz award, and one of the Radio 3 Listeners’ award. Three of these are of East Asian origin, two of African/Afro-Caribbean origin.
Going through the shortlists for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 one finds the following:
2011: 41 names and 1 collective of five individuals. One individual of East Asian origin.
2012: 39 names, all white
2013: 39 names, one of East Asian origin
2014: 36 names, all white
Since 2009 there has been a prize for jazz composition, a field with historically strong associations with African-American communities. Of the six winners of this, five have been white. Of the 18 names shortlisted, 16 have been white.
All of this points to the forms of composition recognised and rewarded by the BCA being overwhelmingly white (bearing in mind that according to the 2011 census, only 87.1% of the UK population were white). No individual of South Asian origin has ever won a BCA award, despite their accounting for around 5% of the population, whilst the representation of individuals (two) of African/Afro-Caribbean origin falls well below the figure of 3% of the population they make up; one of the names only won because nominated by Radio 3 listeners, the other in the category of jazz composition.
This is not to criticise the awards necessarily, nor their organisers, rather to point out a wider issue in new music, as I have argued elsewhere. To what extent can new music be viewed as part of a multicultural Britain (or in other Western countries), or is it a field disengaged from black and minority ethnic (BME) cultural and musical traditions?
Extremely important collection of links to press articles on the Paedophile Information Exchange
18th-25th January 1975: Letters regarding the Albany Trust’s links with PIE (The Times)
26th August 1975: Child-lovers win fight for role in Gay Lib (The Guardian)
26th August 1975: Legalise child sex – call (Sheffield Morning Telegraph)
28th August-15th September 1975: Guardian ‘London Letter’ column on PIE and related correspondence (The Guardian)
22nd January 1976: Who really wants a change in the age of consent? (The Times)
Spring 1976: ‘Paedophile Politics’ (Gay Left)
19th May 1977: Adults only (The Guardian)
4th February 1977: Blackmail after man applied to join paedophile organization (The Times)
24th August 1977: Mirror comment – For adults only (Daily Mirror)
27th August 1977: Conference ban puts paedophile group further into cold (The Guardian)
28th August 1977: Dutch…
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