ISM Members' Day 2018

The ISM’s annual Members’ Day took place in the stunning setting of Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, on Thursday 26 April. We welcomed over 100 musicians from across the UK to the 18th-century church in Old Street, London for an eventful day of sessions, networking and catching up with colleagues and friends.

The day officially started with the awarding of the ISM Distinguished Musician Award 2017, to the renowned musician and businessperson Kathryn McDowell CBE, DL, Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and former Chair of the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) for her extraordinary services to music as a leading figure in the orchestral sector.

Upon receiving the award, Kathryn expressed the power that music has across the world and recognised the work of her fellow musicians stating, ‘Ihave been privileged to work with so many inspiring composers, performers and fellow producers with a passion to share music-making as widely and deeply as possible. It’s particularly touching to be given this award by that very same group.

We were delighted to welcome Sir James MacMillan for the first session of the day. The Scottish composer and conductor was interviewed by researcher, writer and presenter Katy Hamilton. Sir James reflected on his musical upbringing and his successful career to date. He spoke about his access to music education in school and within his local community in Ayrshire, Scotland. ‘I had that organiser’s mindset where I wanted to organise groups of my friends. I had a street band, The Bank Avenue Band, and immediately I was writing for them and we would perform on the streets and outside people’s houses on Halloween and Christmas. I had that organiser’s instinct and I suppose that’s why I ended up conducting.’

He spoke eloquently of his higher education experience and his PhD at Durham University with composer John Casken. Sir James also enlightened us about his composing style, traditionalism and the influence composers Dimitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten have had on him. ‘Shostakovich proved to me that tradition can be a living thing, it can be part of modernity, just because it has a deep past doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a vibrant present.

As the interview ended, Sir James took questions from the audience who were very willing to find out more about his day to day life and composing process.

After the first session drew to a close, the AGM took place where members heard about the ISM’s activities over the course of the financial year.

After networking and catching up with colleagues and friends at lunch, it was time for the final session of the day: Bernstein and musical theatre: a celebration – with Jeremy Sams.

In celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centenary, Jeremy Sams treated us to a journey through the composer’s musical theatre repertoire, inviting West End singers, Charlotte Vaughan and Damian Humbley to perform a collection of pieces accompanied by Theo Jamieson on the piano.

In between performances of the composer’s finest works, from On The Town to West Side Story, Jeremy captivated the audience with insight into Bernstein’s career and creative process, citing Bernstein as the ‘finest composer who wrote musicals’.

To end the day, it was time for Sue Sturrock our wonderful President for 2017/18 to pass the presidential medal to our new ISM President 2018/19 Professor David Saint. It is a great honour to be taking up the Presidency of the Incorporated Society of Musicians for 2018-19. As I do so, I am deeply aware both of my very distinguished predecessors in the role and of the incredibly important work undertaken by the Society on behalf of musicians and our profession.

We live in challenging times but, in meeting these challenges, the ISM is discovering new and exciting opportunities. I greatly look forward to supporting it and its excellent staff in the year ahead.’