A commission to create and perform a new piece of music at Holmfirth Arts Festival has been announced – in memory of a special man who inspired others.

Musicians with a connection to the Holme Valley are invited to apply for the £2,000 commission and will receive support from professional creatives to help produce their work.  

The inspiration for creating this commission is Steve Sykes (1950-2020). He was chairman of Holmfirth Arts Festival from 2016-2020.

Bev Adams, festival director, said: “Steve was the dynamic and inspirational chair of Holmfirth Arts Festival from 2016 until he died suddenly after a stroke in 2020. 

“He steered the organisation with drive, imagination and humour with his calm, inclusive leadership inspiring a large group of volunteers.”

Steve was born and bred in the Holme Valley and never ceased to wonder at the beauty of its landscape. Nature and music were his lifelong passions.

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He was an accomplished guitarist and saxophonist who loved collaborating with others to put on live, creative events. 

He was a man who calmly and quietly made things happen, encouraging and enabling musicians of all ages to play their very best music.

Taking inspiration from its unique location in the Pennine foothills, Holmfirth Arts Festival celebrates creativity in the landscape by: commissioning new work and supporting diverse artists; inspiring diverse communities to engage with the arts and their heritage; caring for the environment plus connecting locally, regionally and internationally.

Flea Circus by Promenade Promotions at Holmfirth Arts Festival 2018. Pic by: Phil Hack

Ms Adams said: “Our values underpin how we work across all aspects of our organisation including programming, commissioning and working with each other.

“In this first year of the Steve Sykes Memorial Commission we are seeking to commission a new piece of music that responds to the Holme Valley landscape, its people and places whilst reflecting our aims and values.

“The commission is open to young and emergent musicians/composers/performers either based in, or with clear connections through work or family, to the Holme Valley.

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“We have no fixed idea of the genre of music that will be produced, but it needs to be appropriate and accessible for a wide ranging and diverse audience to include young people, older people and people with protected characteristics.”

“We are seeking a piece of new music that will be between 30 minutes and 1 hour in length. 

“We will also consider existing new works that have not previously been publicly performed.”

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The commission is open to solo musicians and collaborating ensembles. 

The musician(s) may use audio visual aids or other performance genres as part of the performance, within the offered commission fee.

The commission will include one performance of the new piece at Holmfirth Arts Festival in a double bill with experimental cellist, Slow Cooked.

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Ms Adams added: “We are particularly interested in applications from people from diverse ethnic backgrounds or that identify as having one or more protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act.”

Holmfirth Arts Festival is offering a fee of £2,000 for the commission, plus support and guidance from Holmfirth Arts Festival director and musician Christopher Deering.

How to apply

Respond to the festival aims, themes and values.

Explain your idea and how you intend to achieve it. Explain the genre of music, the instruments to be used and the intended length of the new work.

Tell us about your connection to Holmfirth and/or the Holme Valley.

Tell us what has inspired you about the Holme Valley landscape, its people and places and how you intend to reflect this through the commission.

Explain your idea for performing the new commission at the festival in September including number of musicians/performers, technical requirements.

Tell us about your experience as a musician/performer to date and please send samples of previous work as links and/or sound files.

Apply in writing (up to two sides of A4) or by video of up to five minutes.  

Send your submission by email to director@holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk by 5pm Friday July 30 2021.

More details www.holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk