Since his appointment in 2006, Artistic Director Graham McKenzie has broadened the definition of contemporary music at hcmf//, creating a spectrum that holds noise on one end and orchestral music on the other – with improvisation, electronic music, sound art and installation filtering through programmes. As the festival moves into its 40th decade, he has been keen to maintain hcmf//’s role as a vital and always forward-thinking voice in music. This includes challenging the ways we think about contemporary music, and asking what it means to be a composer in an increasingly disparate world. McKenzie opened up this conversation with the festival’s 40th edition, in which visual artist Christian Marclay was Composer in Residence; the festival’s 2019 programme focuses on lower-key, more grassroots music-making, and is built around the found-sound experiments of Swedish artist Hanna Hartman.
hcmf// is a proudly international festival, with a history of collaborating on musical innovation and fostering supportive partnerships with likeminded festivals around the world. Bespoke editions of hcmf// have been held in Barcelona, Tampere, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Mexico and Beirut. Through its International Showcase programme, the festival is able to develop home-grown work and tour it throughout the world. The festival also hosts a huge amount of talent from around the world every year, bringing music to the UK for the first time – and presenting it to audiences that it otherwise wouldn’t reach. hcmf// is proud of its uniquely global presence; as borders continue to go up around the world, it is keen to remain open and outward-reaching.
Along with its international presence, hcmf// also makes it a mission to action local change and respond to regional need. The festival runs a year-round Learning & Participation programme, organising workshops and other participatory events for the communities of Kirklees and Yorkshire. Working with local organisations such as The Reach Project and HOOT, hcmf// seeks to engage marginalised and missed communities in music, offering them opportunities to experience and create art. The festival also runs several talent development programmes that focus on the artists, musicians and curators of tomorrow, including a professional development programme for women making electronic music, a mentorship programme for young curators, and hcmf// shorts, a mentorship and performance programme that helps artists in the early stages of their career take the next step.
On top of this, hcmf// makes a huge financial impact on the Kirklees area. As reflected in a recent Economic Impact Report, hcmf// has joined other local festivals in contributing almost £3 million to the local economy since 2015. A critically acclaimed festival with broadcasts from BBC Radio 3, hcmf// receives press and media coverage with an average AVE (Advertising Value Equivalence) of £350,000+ each year.