AGM, 27 October 2023, 2-4pm
British Film Institute, Screening Room 2
Stephen Street, London

A summary of the Society’s activities in the following key areas during 2022-23.

E-News, Printed News and website
Revolution Arts (Nicholas Keyworth and Ian Martin) continue to work closely with the Society and have done so without increasing their monthly fee of £245 for which we are grateful. The website is refreshed every month, prior to the release of the E-News on the first day of the month. We are grateful to Andrew Youdell who dedicates hours to proof reading both the E-News and Printed News, and we thank the numerous writers within our membership and beyond who create articles on a variety of topics.

Eleanor Spence’s work, as our Digitalisation Archive Manager in collaboration with Revolution Arts, is slowly extending the number of past BMS articles available on the our website. The search facility has been a useful tool in helping readers locate articles, and functions with equal efficiency when searching the extensive collection of book and CD reviews generated by our Review Panel Co-ordination Geoffrey Atkinson and his dedicated team.

The majority of new members are still joining through the website, though some of these are proving not to be long standing supporters beyond their first year.

CD production has slowed considerably and Naxos has reduced the number of new releases per month. This has resulted in the release date of the current BMS recording of Grace Williams songs (catalogue number 8.571384) being scheduled for March 2024.

John McCabe and John Joubert video tributes
A preview of the John McCabe video tributes follows on from this AGM preceded by a short promotional video for the Grace Williams CD. Unfortunately, completion of the John Joubert tribute was delayed due to computer problems, but good progress has been made and it is hoped that the project will be completed by the end of 2023. Today’s screening of the McCabe video is for private viewing only and credits will need to be added. The question of copyright must be addressed before either video can be shown to the public. As Chairman, I would like to extend my gratitude to the BMS members who offered interviews and performances.

Amy Yuan’s New Talent Competition 2023
This is now a well established event and Amy (a BMS member) was able to stage a ‘face to face’ competition this year in London thanks to the support of the Royal Academy of Music. Stephen Trowell attended the Prize giving ceremony on 18 July 2023 and presented the BMS Winner’s Prize of £200 for the best performance of a British work; this was awarded to the sixteen year old cellist Mayuchi Ono for her interpretation of the Six Studies in English Folk Song by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The singer Gabriel Earl Jacobson received the Runner Up Prize of £100 for his interpretation of ‘The Vagabond’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

BMS Ambassadorship
BMS member Madeleine Mitchell recently acted as our Ambassador in America by giving a masterclass on British music for string players. This took place on 5 October 2023 in the Kirmser Hall at the Kansas State University, School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Madeleine collaborated with Professor Emeritus Dr.Cora Cooper who is particularly interested in music by women and neglected composers, about half of which are British. Attendance was good and participants involved two violinists, and a second year masters viola player performing with their teacher Madeleine Jansen. Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Ethel Barns and a newly discovered Rebecca Clarke manuscript was presented in the masterclass.

Journal report by Dr. Ian Maxwell
The 2022 edition of British Music was completed in early 2023 and was eventually distributed to members in the first quarter of the year. A reasonable number of members had opted to receive their copy as a PDF version, and most received their copy in advance of the postal distribution. Once again as in the previous year, there were some issues with sending the physical copies to BMS members in the European Union, but most of these members chose the electronic alternative. The 2022 edition contained five extended papers on subjects ranging from Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells to Nicholas Maw and, so far as feedback has been obtained, was generally well-received.

However, there was concern from one member that the paper on Nicholas Maw tended towards the academically abstruse. In answer to this, current editorial policy is to provide a range of levels of subject depth. While British Music does not emulate such publications as Music & Letters or the Journal of the Royal Musical Association in its academic rigour, we aim to include contributions from younger musicologists at the start of their careers, thus encouraging greater academic engagement with British music in general. The present editor of British Music is committed to raising the status and awareness of British music at the research level, while continuing to promote and encourage writing in the genre by the enthusiast. It is believed that this multi-faceted approach will broaden the appeal of British Music.

Treasurer’s report by Stephen Trowell
Financially, 2022 did not seem particularly eventful. Subscription income was again stable around £9,000. However, probably in recognition of the continued changes in the CD sales market, Naxos undertoook reorganisation of their activities in the UK, clearly with the aim of reducing their costs. Naxos Royalties income was much reduced as, possibly because of their personnel changes, they were failing to provide the necessary statistics. This was a matter of frequent discussion (only finally resolved quite recently).

On the Expenditure side, the annual Journal costs have, of course, been affected by  inflation etc. both in terms of printing and postage. Similarly the issues of the Printed News have been impacted.

The net result to our bottom line has been a Shortfall of £3,138 (something that has been a rare occurrence for some time). This has reduced our overall Surplus to £22,390.

Membership continues to be in a net drift downwards. Apart from natural year on year losses, more notable, is the significant number of new members one year, failing to renew the next.

Our thanks, as ever, go to our existing members whose subscriptions help keep the Society going financially.

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