Judith Weir has been confirmed as the next Master of the Queen’s Music, a fixed term, 10-year role which she takes up today from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.
‘I hope to encourage everyone in the UK who sings, plays or writes music, and to hear as many of them as possible in action over the next 10 years,’ Weir said.
‘Listening is also a skill, and I intend to uphold our rights to quietness and even silence, where appropriate. Above all, our children deserve the best we can give them, and that includes access to live music, whether as learners, performers or listeners.’
Writing on her website, www.judithweir.com, Weir said: ‘To all the people who have sent kind messages since the possibility of my appointment was first discussed in the press earlier this month, I can now say an official and heartfelt thank you! I will let you know from time to time, via this blog, how I’m getting on in my unusual new role.’
Weir is set to focus on the state of music education in the UK, using the role’s £15,000 stipend to travel around the country’s schools, as she told the Guardian’s Tom Service: ‘Without doing that, it’s very difficult to know what’s really happening … The question of music education over the last few years has been full of rhetorical behaviour. It’s been a Punch and Judy show on both sides.’
She will also ‘challenge her composer colleagues to write “in a simpler mode, without changing their style” to create music that is accessible for the widest range of people to play and enjoy’, wrote Service.
The widely expected appointment means Weir is the first woman to hold the post since its institution in 1626.
It was also announced that Weir is to become associate composer of the BBC Singers for three years from 2015, succeeding Gabriel Jackson.