Each to his iPod, or great music for all? at the 2007 Battle of Ideas conference hosted by the Institute of Ideas.
There is no doubt that music is universal in the sense that it exists in every culture, and that everyone enjoys and responds to it in one form or another, but can any one piece or genre of music ever appeal to everyone? In modern Western society we can choose from countless genres drawn from all over the world. The Western classical canon no longer enjoys privileged status in the musical marketplace. From opera to garage, different genres of music are fiercely defended and identified with by some groups and yet hated by others. At the same time, though, few would argue that all types of music are equal, and most of us want other people to share the music we love.
Is any particular form of music truly universal? Can aesthetic judgements escape cultural specificity, or rise above personal taste? Is a Chinese musician who plays Bach embracing something universal, or simply becoming Westernised? Are classical music buffs just another tribe? Or might other forms of music also stake a claim to being universal? And if there are no universals, how can we engage with new and unfamiliar music?- IoI
Dolan Cummings is research and editorial director at the IoI. He edits the IoI's reviews website, Culture Wars and is a co-convener of the yearly Battle of Ideas festival, next taking place in London in October 2007.
Cummings's interests lie in the relationship between ideas and politics, the role of the intellectual, ideology, and religion in public life. He is especially interested in the question of intellectual authority and how it is contested. Cummings firmly believes that politics should start from the needs and passions of the public, and that this puts a premium on open debate and free speech. Most recently he has edited a collection of essays, Debating Humanism by contributors to the Battle of Ideas 2005.
His interest in the role of intellectuals builds on Ideas, Intellectuals and the Public, a conference he organized in 2003.
Ivan Hewett is a writer on music for the Daily Telegraph, broadcaster on BBC Radio 3, and teacher at the Royal College of Music.
He studied music at Oxford University, went on to study composition at the Royal College of Music, and spent a fascinating year in commercial music, where he rose to the dizzy heights of scoring the music for a TV cat-food advertisement. After an abortive attempt to set up a music festival, he started working in arts television, researching Granada TV's 'Man and Music' series, and helping to bring Jonathan Miller's dramatisation of Bach's St. Matthew Passion to the screen. By then he'd already started presenting on BBC Radio 3, and in 1993 was entrusted with Radio 3's weekly magazine show 'Music Matters'.
Through the 80s and 90s he was a regular contributor to the Musical Times, Prospect and other magazines. Since the late 90s he's taught at the Royal College of Music, and in 2003 published a very personal view of 20th century music, entitled Music: Healing the Rift (pub. Continuum).
Nowadays he writes on music for the Daily Telegraph, and from time to time presents BBC Radio 3's new music series 'Hear and Now'.
Barb Jungr is an internationally acclaimed singer, performer and writer. She was born in Rochdale and grew up in Stockport, then moved to London in the mid 1970s to become part of the early alternative cabaret circuit, performing and recording with the cult vocal harmony group 'The Three Courgettes'. After this she formed a 12-year song-writing and musical partnership with the blues guitarist, songwriter and singer Michael Parker. She went solo in the 1990s, and created the harmony shows Hell Bent Heaven Bound with Parker, Christine Collister, Ian Shaw and Helen Watson. These toured the UK, played the Edinburgh Festival, and were invited to the Vancouver and Winnipeg festivals in Canada.
In 2002 the British Council supported Barb's three-week run at New Yorkâ€™s Flea Theatre, for which she won the Backstage Award for Best International Artist. She has since continued to appear regularly in New York, performing at Joe's Pub and Mama Rose's.
As well as her solo recordings, performances and tours, Barb has worked with the Amici multi-disciplinary dance troupe, has directed and produced the work of other artists, and collaborated with composer Jonathan Cooper on his 'Moon Behind The Clouds' song cycle. She was featured in Simon Armitage's award-winning millennial poem Channel 4 film, directed by director Brian Hill, and she created the sell-out cabaret show 'Girl Talk' with the top British singers Mari Wilson and Claire Martin which tours frequently and is being developed for radio and television.
Nicholas Kenyon (CBE) is the managing director of the Barbican Centre. He was born in 1951 and read History at Balliol College, Oxford. He worked for the English Bach Festival and the BBC Music Department as well as working as a freelance writer on music, and joined The New Yorker as a music critic from 1979-82.
On returning to Britain, he became music critic for The Times and the Music Editor of The Listener. He was appointed Editor of the journal Early Music in 1983, and in 1987 became Chief Music Critic of The Observer. In 1991 he was Artistic Adviser to the South Bank Centre's festival Mozart Now, which won a Royal Philharmonic Society award.
In March 1992 he was appointed Controller, BBC Radio 3, and was responsible for the award-winning seasons Fairest Isle (1995) and Sounding the Century (1997-1999). He was appointed Director of the BBC Proms from the 1996 season and moved to the new post of Controller, BBC Proms and Millennium Programmes in November 1998. He oversaw the BBC's programming for the millennium celebrations, and in 2000 became Controller BBC Proms, Live Events and Television Classical Music, a position he held until taking up his post at the Barbican in October this year.
He is the author of The BBC Symphony Orchestra: the first fifty years (1981), and The Faber Pocket Guide to Mozart (2005) and edited the influential volume Authenticity and Early Music (1987). He is the co-editor of the Viking/Penguin Opera Guide. In 2001 he published Simon Rattle: from Birmingham to Berlin, an updated version of his earlier biography of the conductor. In 2002 he edited the BBC Proms Pocket Guide to Great Symphonies and BBC Proms Pocket Guide to Great Concertos. He is Consultant Editor on The Proms - A New History, published in 2007.
Jon "Webbo" Webster has worked for 2 people most of his life - himself and Richard Branson. The former paid better.
He began his career in retail, working as a shop assistant for Virgin. In 1981 he started as Sales Manager for Virgin Records and progressed through Marketing Director and Head of International before being appointed Managing Director in 1988. Jon has been fortunate enough to work with some iconic bands, including Genesis, UB40, The Human League and Culture Club. He was a member of the BPI Council from 1985 - 1992.
Following the EMI purchase of Virgin in 1992, Jon decided to leave the company to set up his own - The Clancy Webster Partnership. In 1983 he was instrumental in devising the 'Now! That's What I Call Music' brand and in 1992 he founded the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. From 1992 - 2002 Jon wrote the WebboÂ column for Music Week and was an expert witness in a number of court cases. In 2000 he moved into management and he now runs a small internet sales label, Aquarian Nation. In May 2005 he was appointed Director of the Independent Member Services at the BPI.