Some words from our ever brilliant Director, Gail Dudson...

Ever feel as if the whole world was changing around you? It is probably true to say that we all feel like that at the moment, and some of the change that is coming we might welcome, and some we might not. Of course, music has always been both a storm of change and a sea of calm, and how you see it depends on which part of the ocean you were in at the time.

Our favourite music for this month has been the Glastonbury archive on BBC iPlayer. It is a way to see and hear change in live music over a couple of decades. David Bowie’s amazing, long set of his great songs from the previous two decades is a case in point – its own history lesson of his work. But compare it to Stormzy’s blistering 2019 show featuring ballet, BMX, a choir, and the odd firework. That shows you how production skills (it took 5 months of rehearsal and preparation) and possibilities have changed in 19 years.

Stormzy was, of course, the first Black British solo artist to headline at Glastonbury, and the time that has brought us Covid-19 and the cancellation of Glastonbury 2020, has also brought us Black Lives Matter, which may lead to profound political and cultural change.

You might have noticed that we sometimes do a ’people or things you should have heard of’ type feature, and not that long ago we did one about female composers. Well, we’ve been pleased to learn about Nate Holder recently, a Black British music educator with important things to say. We liked his ’10 Black female classical composers’ (well, we would as an all female management and admin team!), and were glad that at least one of his list was in our women composers list. But he’s done more to inform us too – you can find more from Nate here:

At YYM, we’ve always valued diversity in music and culture, and among our workers. We don’t practise musical hierarchy and we think young people should be able to explore all kinds of music and find their own path.

So this month’s playlist features some Black British musicians who found their own path:

Ayanna Witter-Johnson is an ignorer of boundaries; classical, jazz, rnb, singing, playing the cello, she does it all. It’s quite hard to put into words, so watch instead …

With a slightly unnerving cello connection, there’s Nottingham lad Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 2016 Young Musician of the Year, who performed Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in August 2019. We’d heard the BBC were going to put Proms on the iPlayer like Glastonbury – perhaps it will come later in the summer, but here is it on You Tube:

OK, we’ll leave the cellos out for this one, but reconnect with Stormzy. Stormzy’s collaborator Dave explores Black identity in ‘Black’  here:

It needs no comment from us, but if you want one, Nate Holder (above) has things to say about it.

The world is changing. Music is always changing.

Thanks to Gail... Let's make a change for the better.