Winner – DEBORAH ROBERTS co-founder of the Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF)
The award ceremony was held at Fabrica, Brighton on the 1st November.
All the nominees listed below received a certificate recognising their contribution to the arts in Sussex.
Nominations for Contribution to the Arts Award 2021
Name of nominee: PATRICK HARREX , founder member and past Chairman of New Music Brighton
Nominated by: John Hawkins, Nicholas Yonge Society
I would like to nominate Brighton resident Patrick Harrex, who does so much for musicians in the area. Patrick Harrex is involved in encouraging interest in new music by young people and amateur musicians – he currently holds positions as Composer in Residence at two schools in Sussex, and in 2005 he established the Sussex branch of CoMA (Contemporary Music for All). He was a founder member and is a past chairman of New Music Brighton, a collective of composers living or working in the Sussex area. He is co-founder and Chair of Trustees of Soundwaves Festival. He was the founding Musical Director of New Note Orchestra, which supports people in recovery from addiction and is Musical Director of Brighton & Hove Arts Orchestra, an open access community orchestra.
Name of nominee: DEBORAH ROBERTS, Artistic Director, Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF)
Nominated by: Richard Davis, member of Brighton Consort, BREMF and Grey Matters Productions
I’d like to nominate Deborah Roberts, the Artistic Director of Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF). Shortly after moving from London to Sussex, Deborah (with her colleague Clare Norburn, who’s no longer involved) decided to start an annual Early Music Festival in Brighton. Following a pilot series of just eight concerts in 2002, a full festival spread over three weeks took place in 2003. The festival is run on a non-profit-making basis, and almost entirely by unpaid volunteers, in which category Deborah herself can be included; although a professional musician, she takes no payment for this. The fact that the festival started in the first place and has continued ever since was due in no small part to her consistent enthusiasm and energy, which have been tested over the last two years when, instead of pausing operations, she continued the festival online. BREMF has built an audience of loyal followers from all over Britain, and some people regularly travel from countries as far away as the USA and Australia to attend. Radio 3 has often broadcast some of the concerts.
In addition to the main festival, BREMF organizes children’s events, adult workshops and schools activities, and provides a career development path for young professionals under its ‘BREMF Live!’ scheme. Sessions are presented in local primary and secondary schools throughout the year. As well as this, Deborah was for some time the Director of the local Early Music choir, Brighton Consort. She also founded two other local Early Music choirs, both still running: BREMF Consort of Voices, a mixture of advanced amateur singers and young professionals, which has made several appearances on Radio 3, and BREMF Community Choir, a group open to anyone without audition which nevertheless achieves a good standard of performance in Early Music.
Name of nominees: Clare Norburn, playwright and soprano, co-founder of Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF) and the late Ariane Prüssner, mezzo soprano.
Nominated by: David Botibol, individual member
In 2020 COVID-19 brought a sudden halt to the performing arts. In the very first month of lockdown 1, Ariane quickly responded to the crisis, bringing live singing workshops into homes with The Telling in Retreat series, including lullabies for isolated grandparents to sing to their grandchildren down the phone.
Later Ariane’s long-time singing partner Clare wrote the cliffhanger serial of early music and drama Love in the Lockdown. They made the music through their ensemble The Telling, and delivered the episodes freely into our homes via YouTube. This drama set in lockdown 1 entertained us a year later during lockdown 3. Ariane passed away in May 2021 between episodes of Love in the Lockdown. Clare was co-founder of Brighton Early Music Festival, of which she was Co-Artistic Director for many years.
Over the years Ariane and Clare sang together in numerous groups including Fifth Element, Third Voice and Mediva. They rediscovered gems of early music and found innovative ways of presenting this freshly to old and new audiences in Brighton & Hove and far afield, along with the history of composers.
Name of nominee: SUSI ODDBALL, Brighton and Hove Community Radio
Nominated by: Terry Godwin, Brighton & Hove Quill of Poetry
I am recommending Susi Oddball for her services to entertainment in Brighton and Hove for the past year. She is director at Brighton and Hove Community Radio where she teaches, runs and produces community radio. When the coronavirus closed down Brighton, it closed down Brighton & Hove Quill of Poetry for reading and radio. Susi had never had direct contact with our group before but she contacted me on the phone and asked me to do a programme on my own, which I gladly accepted and read every Thursday afternoon. She had a computer set up in her home. I read my poetry to her from my home together with work from poets who I invite from around the world. I understand she now runs three programmes for different readers. She is a member of our poetry group.
Name of nominee: STUART LONGLEY, Chorus Director, Coastline Harmony
Nominated by: Coastline Harmony
Coastline Harmony would like to nominate their new chorus director, Stuart Longley, for this award.
Stuart has been Coastline’s Musical Director since January 2020 and has led us more in virtual singing than in real life! Throughout lockdown he’s given us hope and introduced us to innovative online tools that have allowed members of the choir to sing online. Now we are back singing outdoors and socially distanced he continues to put our safety and welfare first, while challenging us to keep our vocal skills going with songs old and new. Not all of us are able to sing in person yet and Stuart makes sure everyone is included, whether they join on Zoom or in the (often cold and wet!) car park where we sing.Without his musical knowledge, sense of humour and self-effacing leadership style, it would have been very hard for Coastline Harmony to carry on. But, to paraphrase one of the latest songs in our repertoire, ‘We’re Still Standing’ – and so is Stuart, in front of us every week.
Stuart’s CV below, gives more information on why we think he deserves this award:
Coastline Harmony – women’s a cappella chorus in Southwick, near Brighton who perform regularly for local charities, care homes and hospices.
The Downsmen – men’s barbershop chorus based in Leatherhead. Part of the British Association of Barbershop Singings (BABS).
Capel Choral Society (Surrey) – SATB choir, part of the Leith Hill Music Festival. Stuart prepares the choir for competition and for massed performance under Festival MD Jonathan Willcocks.
Horsham Harmony (West Sussex) – daytime community choir with strong charitable ethos.
Elmbridge Retirement Village (Cranleigh, Surrey) – daytime mixed ability choir (both Horsham & Elmbridge currently 40 members each and expanding).
Linden Wind Orchestra (Surbiton, Surrey) – advanced repertoire with post-Grade 8/semi-pro players deputising at short notice for indisposed conductor, 2-month period, Autumn 2018.
London Saxophone Choir – developing and adapting bespoke arrangements for niche ensemble.
Stuart has more than 15 years’ experience working in the widest possible range of genres including orchestras, wind bands and ensembles, large choral societies, chamber choirs, music theatre, contemporary music ensembles, jazz and popular music groups. He is an accomplished performer too – as a singer and saxophonist. Stuart’s contribution to the arts both locally and throughout the UK is testimony to his incredible commitment and we truly believe he deserves to be recognised with this award.
More importantly he has kept a group of women – who were desperately missing their weekly live rehearsals – laughing, supporting each other and, most of all, singing.
Name of nominee: DAN LIPPMAN, Programme Organiser, Brighton & Hove French Circle
Nominated by: Brighton & Hove French Circle
Over the last five years, Dan has undertaken all the organisation necessary to attract excellent speakers for members and visitors to the French Circle. He is a great networker and on behalf of the Circle has sourced and maintained contact with a huge variety of writers, musicians and academics, who have given talks ranging from music (Jean Ferrat, Charles Aznavour) to fine art (French stained glass, Cezanne, Berthe Morisot) to literature (Hector Malot, Charles Baudelaire) to theatre and cinema (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Molière).
This is only the tip of the iceberg, as Dan arranges at least 15 such talks every year, a mammoth task that he succeeds in through patient and often extended bilingual negotiations with potential speakers. Dan has also been active in ensuring the group continues to thrive during the pandemic, for example by suggesting attractive deals for new and renewing members and recommending new members to stand for the committee.
Dan’s talents do not stop there. He is a fine illustrator. He has created the artwork for the cover of the French Circle’s printed programme and has produced several publicity posters for it, as well as adding illustrations to the music written and performed by Ric Graebner, a well-known local contemporary classical music composer. Dan is also himself an active participant in Circle events such as the Soirée sociale, in which he has shown himself to be an entertaining public speaker and performer.
Dan would be an asset to any local Arts organisation in Brighton and Hove and beyond. His patience, generosity, diplomacy, imagination and sangfroid are all qualities that extend through French Circle events to members and guests and the community at large. The Circle is indeed lucky to have benefitted from his outstanding contribution.
Name of nominee: LUAN TAYLOR, community arts practitioner and Joint Creative Communities Manager for South East Dance
Nominated by: South East Dance
Luan Taylor is a community arts practitioner who has been working with people living with dementia and isolated older people. Prior to the pandemic, Luan had been working on a project at Brooke Mead Extra Care Facility. With the help of four older volunteers and another dance artist, she has delivered weekly dance sessions, a blend of dance and movement, music, film, quizzes and reminiscing – designed to offer a vital moment of social connectedness. The residents said these sessions were the highlight of the week.
‘Thanks for the work at Brooke Mead, it clearly makes a positive difference to our tenants’. Team Manager, Senior Housing B&HCC.
From April 2020, Luan, kept in touch with residents who were mostly confined to their flats. She sent them weekly dance care packages, including little notes and photos reminders of their sessions along with hand-made booklets with some instructions for movements to do at home. As lockdown lifted over the summer Luan joined forces with Open Strings Orchestra to deliver live music and dancing outside Brooke Mead while the residents sat in their shared courtyard and joined in.
Luan and her colleagues at South East Dance set up a resident with an iPad, with the assistance of her daughter and staff. The resident has been engaging with dance sessions that Luan had filmed. It’s a physical and sociable activity they can enjoy together and a once-a-week happy moment they can share together dancing like they used to before lockdown.
‘She was extremely excited, and it helped to remember Luan and Louisa when she saw their faces too. It brought back memories of the good times ‘downstairs’. This has worked for her as there are specific activities to login to, with faces she recognises, so it makes this very personal and much more meaningful.’
Name of nominee: JAMES MORGAN, Music Director, Brighton Festival Chorus
Nominated by: Brighton Festival Chorus
James Morgan, an inspirational and consummate musician, has been Music Director of the Brighton Festival Chorus for over 20 years. He has prepared the Chorus for an extensive range of concerts for the Brighton Festival and elsewhere, produced and conducted an annual series of BFC concerts, including the annual sell-out Christmas one at the Dome. His work with leading orchestras and artists, as conductor and half of the composing and producing partnership Morgan Pochin, has spanned the UK and Europe.
James’ unrivalled determination to continue making music in Sussex during the Covid pandemic incorporated:
- The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BFC and the Brighton Festival Youth Choir, along with two community choirs of young people from Sussex schools, streamed performance of Sussex Sings Christmas from Brighton Dome in December.
- Rehearsals for around 100 BFC members each week via Zoom, working through a range of music including the challenging Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
- 2021 Brighton Festival performances of Under The Wild Woods, an open-air event with BFC members singing among the trees.
- Composing and recording the lockdown surprise chart-topping album, The Light of The World with the Poor Clares of Arundel.
Of life after lockdown James says, ‘Brighton Festival Chorus are rehearsing, recruiting and back in the game’. Masterminding an Unlockdown Open Day with singing workshops, open rehearsal and performance on 24 July at All Saints, Hove is just the start of future plans. Christmas will be back live in the Dome, and a major Choral immersion event is scheduled for 2022.
Being collectively silenced in March 2020 brought home the power and necessity of music. The physical and mental benefits of singing and sharing a passion with like-minded people are well documented,. Facilitating these is what James Morgan contributes to music in Sussex.
Name of nominee: MARTIN OAKLEY, theatre set designer and technician
Nominated by: Southwick Players
Martin has been involved in community theatre in Sussex since 1975, providing an invaluable volunteer service to many local amateur dramatic companies and to the Southwick Community Centre. With a talent for designing sets for theatres in Southwick, Arundel and Worthing, Martin’s imagination and problem-solving skills lead to him winning the BHAC Set Design Awards in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. With a passion for lighting design, Martin is in great demand and won the BHAC Drama Awards for Lighting in 2019
Martin has an extraordinary skill as a Specialist Prop Maker, and has also worked tirelessly as a crew member, technical advisor, producer, publicity officer and poster designer. He runs all the technical effects for our annual awards ceremony single handed & in 2019, stepped in at the last minute to help BHAC by lighting their awards ceremony.
As a volunteer at the Barn Theatre, Martin assists hirers with technical issues and as Board Member of The Southwick Community Centre, Martin provides technical assistance with projects to the Community Centre. He particularly enjoys supporting the fundraising beer festival!
After the enforced break of Covid, Martin continues to plan ahead with lighting of Hedda Gabler in September. And is then booked to contribute his skills for all of our booked productions for 2021 and 2022, either as set, lighting or poster designer, and on some productions, taking on all of these specialist roles.
We at the Southwick Players are so very proud and honoured to have had the benefit of Martin’s skills and ingenuity. He has great talent, a good friend to all at the Players and we are delighted to be able to nominate him for the prestigious award.
Name of nominee: SUSE CROSBY, Publicity Officer, Wick Theatre Company
Nominated by: Wick Theatre Company
Following the news that all our shows this year would have to be cancelled due to the pandemic, Suse (our Publicity Officer) immediately began to implement plans to keep Wick’s profile high within the local community.
Suse suggested rehearsed readings by our members that would be available to watch online. The first project was the ‘Ghostly Christmas Advent Calendar’ – a collection of stories and poems which were released each day in December on the Wick website and were also available via our newly revamped YouTube channel.
Suse and her creative team worked with each performer to enhance the telling of these stories – adding music, advising on costume / props and providing publicity. What began as an in-house project quickly spiralled into a phenomenal success – the highest viewed story was ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ by W.W. Jacobs with 759 hits – and the publicity via social media was frequently opened by more than 2000 people. We received comments from Italy, Scandinavia and New Zealand (as well as all over the UK) praising what we had done.
Not content with this, Suse began the New Year by planning our next online project, which we dubbed ‘Wickanory’. On every Friday since April, a member has read one of their favourite stories –there are still a few to go, including a special to celebrate the official end of lockdown. All the stories can still be viewed via our website: www.wicktheatrecompany.co.uk
I think what Suse has done has been a splendid achievement, well worthy of the Outstanding Contibution Award of 2021. She has kept our members busy, enhanced our audience numbers and continued to facilitate high-quality theatre in a year when many have missed it.