Michael Harper awarded grant to uncover the work of ethnically diverse composer

RNCM Vocal Tutor, Michael Harper, is one of seven researchers awarded a grant by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to celebrate the work of ethnically diverse composers from history.

Launched last Autumn, the scheme aims to expand the breadth and diversity of what’s accepted as belonging to the classical music canon and uncover more about the lives and work of composers who’ve not had the public recognition that their work deserves.

Michael, whose research focuses on the work of American composer Julia Perry, was selected with the support of an expert advisory panel of academics and musicians, chaired by Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE.

The project represents a key part of the BBC and AHRC’s shared ambition to bring forward the work of such composers and shine a light on those who haven’t received the public recognition they deserve.

Alan Davey, BBC Radio 3 Controller says: ‘Radio 3’s collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council is crucial at a time when we want to inspire listeners by shining a light on unfairly forgotten areas of Western classical music.

‘Hopefully this inspiration will draw in listeners from a wide range of backgrounds and with a wide range of musical interests. The researchers funded through this scheme will uncover musical gems, and will help us engage both new and existing audiences, moving a step forwards in the direction of wider inclusion and a more diverse repertoire.’

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, added: ‘In recent years, questions about how we recognise the diverse influences that have shaped our culture have taken on a renewed sense of urgency.

‘Arts and humanities research have an important role to play in exploring these questions and shedding light on the profound contribution of artists from all backgrounds.

‘The composers celebrated as part of this initiative are prime examples of this under-explored contribution and demonstrate the ability of arts research to foster an understanding and recognition of our diverse cultural heritage.’

This focus on diverse composers of the past follows on from the success and impact of the Forgotten Female Composers project in 2018, where AHRC and BBC Radio 3 joined forces to help bring recognition to another area of diversity in classical music. The research will be used to help inform performances and broadcasts on Radio 3, which will broadcast a special concert later this year showcasing some of the composers featured.

3 March 2021

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