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Susanna Eastburn to step down from Sound and Music Chief Executive role

Susanna Eastburn MBE, Chief Executive of Sound and Music, has announced that she will hand over leadership of the UK’s national organisation for new music in May 2023, after 10 years serving in the role.

Under Eastburn’s leadership, Sound and Music established a national and international reputation and cemented its role at the heart of musical life in the UK. Programmes such as Minute of ListeningNew Voices and the annual Summer School have supported hundreds of composers and thousands of children and young people across the country.

Susanna Eastburn has been a champion and ally to composers and music creators throughout her career. Her contribution has been recognised with an MBE for services to Music in 2018, a Gold Badge from the Ivors Academy for services to composers and most recently the Leslie Boosey Award from the Royal Philharmonic Society for services to contemporary music.

Reflecting on her 10 years at the organisation, Susanna Eastburn said, ‘It has been the most enormous privilege to lead Sound and Music over the past decade. New music, and the people who create it, are essential to contemporary cultural life. I have tried my hardest to champion this, and to ensure that more composers have the chance to thrive, whether they are seasoned professionals or still at school.

‘Now, after 10 immensely fulfilling years, it is time for me to move on to other things and make space for somebody else to lead Sound and Music’s next chapter. Whoever comes in will find a resourceful, creative and caring organisation with an incredible team, delivering vital work of inestimable value to thousands of people around the country.’

Eastburn has spearheaded the organisation’s pioneering work towards a fairer and more representative sector, including (in 2016) being among the first organisations to commit to gender equality and data transparency. Campaigns such as Can Compose (2019) and the Fair Access Principles (2020) have continued this work, which in 2022 was recognised with an inaugural Digital Cultural Awards. Her legacy is a fairer and more inclusive environment for composers in the UK.

Dr Greg Davies, Chair of Trustees at Sound and Music, said, ‘Over a decade Susanna has transformed Sound and Music from its early troubled period into the resilient and successful organisation it is today. Her leadership has had a profound impact on the lives of many, not least during Covid lockdowns when she led the organisation’s exceptional response. 

‘The whole team and Board are incredibly thankful to Susanna for the heart, vision and care that she has dedicated to Sound and Music.’

Photo: Susanna Eastburn with her Leslie Boosey Award at the 
Sound and Music Summer School © Sam Corcoran