Harrogate Band's campaign to increase representation of female composers

Members of the Harrogate Band at the Happygate festival.
Members of the Harrogate Band at the Happygate festival.

A campaign to increase the number of female composers represented in brass bands has been launched by one of Harrogate's most celebrated and established groups.

Driven by a passion to inspire confidence among more women to showcase their composing talent, the Harrogate Band's Women Make Music campaign has attracted support from some of the industry's most acclaimed female composers.

Staunchly committed to performing and championing the work of female composers, and encouraging others to do the same, the Harrogate Band is channelling any negativity directed at the campaign into stimulating debate and discussion around a lack of representation.

The Harrogate Band's Engagements Manager Nick Garrett, said: "Through our campaign we want to give women the confidence to compose brilliant music and showcase compositions by female composers to our audiences, and for other bands to do the same.

"The Performing Rights Foundation actively researched why there was a total mismatch when it came to women’s representation as producers, conductors and composers, despite making up 50% of audiences and performers.

"They found in their research that when they talked to aspiring women composers, confidence was one of the key aspects that prevented them promoting their own music.

"By performing music from women composers and relating that back to the composer. and pushing that, it will hopefully encourage more women to keep composing and feel more confident.

"We have had a great deal of positive feedback from other brass bands and within our band as well, but we have also had feedback from other people in the brass band industry that has been quite negative, on the grounds that they see the campaign as positive discrimination that they disagree with.

"But we are using that negativity to stimulate debate, we welcome all of that discussion and debate.

"As far as I am aware, we are the only brass band to be compiling a list of female composers on our website, to really celebrate and showcase all of the incredible compositions by women.

"It's great that a number of composers have been in touch with us to express their support for the campaign, thanking us for doing it and saying how interested they are in getting involved in some way.

"Every concert we perform at we will perform at least one piece of music arranged or composed by a woman. It’s not much, but someone’s got to start somewhere."

If you are a composer or student who wants to write original music for brass bands, want to hear your music performed or know more about the campaign, contact Nick Garrett: secretary@harrogateband.org 07753 167190, or visit their website: www.harrogateband.org/index.htm