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Guest of the Month February 2010: Eleanor Ward

Eleanor worked at the PRS for Music Foundation for almost 4 years, having previously worked in arts funding at both the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. Having always been interested and involved in music from an early age, she went on to study music at Nottingham University.

During her final year, El studied a module titled ‘Music and Society since 1945’ which encouraged her to undertake further research on the sociological impact that music has on society, and vice versa. Her interest for contemporary music also developed, with her final performance recital consisting entirely of late 20th century work across 5 different sizes of recorder (yes – she is a recorder player!)

A keen gig and festival goer, El is interested in music that blurs the boundaries between different genres, and is excited by discovering new music.

During her time at PRSF, El has helped hundreds of successful applicants from a huge variety of different sectors gain funding – many of those who had not made a funding application before. El’s time at PRSF has also seen her manage the New Music Award, set up the monthly e-bulletin, initiate funding surgeries around the UK and successfully expand the British Music Abroad initiative, all the while co-ordinating the applications process and attending as many new music events as possible.

She completed a part-time MA in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck College whilst working at PRS for Music Foundation, and undertook her research dissertation on student audiences for new music. She is looking to publish this research towards the end of 2010.

El is leaving at the end of April to pursue a freelance career, building up programming and producing experience whilst utilising her fundraising, marketing and project management skills across the music industry.

Here’s what El has been listening to:

Euros Childs – Son of Euro Child
I went out on a bit of a Welsh tip at the end of 2009, and there are two albums I keep going back to. The first is Euros Childs, who was my favourite live act at both Truck and End of the Road Festival last year. The 5th solo album from the lead singer of Gorky’s Zycotic Mynci is slightly unhinged, but songs like ‘How Do You Do’ never fail to make me smile.

Cate le Bon – Me Oh My
I first saw Cate le Bon, my second Welsh pick, playing at PRSF-funded Swn Festival in late 2008 and was blown away by her songs. Her debut album has been on repeat and I’m really pleased we were able to support her to play at SXSW this year – her showcase there was my favourite gig of the festival. A beautiful, psychedelic folky album in which I keep on discovering new nooks and crannies.

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
Although this album has already been chosen by a previous Guest of the Month – Anna Meredith – I think it’s worthy of a repeat show. I’ve been following Grizzly Bear since I saw them play a magnificent gig at Cargo back in 2006, and am very much looking forward to seeing them play a sold-out Roundhouse. Veckitamest is the album that got me out of the rut of simply having my ipod on shuffle and made me want to listen to albums all the way through from the beginning to the end.

Alex Ross – The Rest is Noise
I have belatedly been making way through “The Rest is Noise” by Alex Ross, which has re-awakened my very latent academic interest in 20th century music. I’m only up to Stravinsky at the moment, but it’s helping me to re-aquaint myself with music and composers I haven’t touched since uni. Now all I have to do is go through the listening list given at the back of the book…

Live, the two performances that have inspired me so far this year have both been part of Blank Canvas, an events series programmed by Will Dutta, one of our London NMP Producers. Firstly, electro-acoustic artist Jon Hopkins performed a special live set with piano and electronics at Kings Place. Then Ultre & Alvin Ryan blew me away late on a Friday night at the BFI. Both of these gigs have made me want to hear more and I feel some music purchases coming on…