Divine Art Recordings
As mentioned in the general company profile page, the Divine Art label was born in 1993. Founder Stephen Sutton was a commercial and property lawyer with a love of music and a fascination with records (mainly vintage ones!). The organ at his local church was being restored and in order to raise funds, Stephen arranged the making of a cassette, played by Henry Wallace, then assistant organist at Hexham Abbey. Expecting to sell a few copies around the village, Stephen was delighted to see this modest recording receive excellent reviews and sell 700 copies. The following year, baroque flute specialist Peter Harrison who was performing at St. Mungo’s church with his ensemble Concert Royal asked about making a CD, as the group had previously had success with some locally-made cassette tapes. That project led to the first commercial release “Cantatas from the Georgian Drawing Room” and from then on, as they say “one thing led to another” – and soon the label was in demand for production of high quality recordings of unusual and rare music by such artists as Murray McLachlan. A commission from BBC Scotland led to our first co-production with the Aberdeen Youth Choir and the catalogue began to grow, albeit very slowly, as it was still being run in Stephen Sutton’s spare time.
In 2005, Stephen gave up his legal career to manage Divine Art full time, having by then launched the mid-price Diversions series and Pilgrim’s Star. Growth increased exponentially, especially after the introduction of our “agency” recording package, allowing artists, composers and independent producers retention of ownership in their recordings and a much higher degree of financial and artistic control. Over 25 CDs were issued in 2006 on our flagship label, which, as from the beginning, is designed to present rare, new and re-discovered masterpieces. Music on offer ranges from the 17th to the 21st centuries and includes a very high proportion of world premieres. For more information regarding the company, see “about us”.
Divine Art is now one of the UK’s premier labels for classical music of all genres, having acquired ATHENE RECORDS in 2005, the leading contemporary music label METIER in 2007, and DUNELM in 2008. The company opened its American branch, Brandon Music, in August 2008 and in January 2009 acquired Heritage Media Ltd, a producer of vintage radio dramas and documentaries.
The label has attracted increasing numbers of highly regarded artists and ensembles, such as the Europan Union Chamber Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, the Avison Ensemble, Musica Secreta, Madeleine Mitchell, Terence Charlston, and many more. The label still carries some modern music, but usually of the more traditional kind (for example the brilliant piano music of Graham Whettam, John Rose and Brian Chapple), whereas more challenging and true ‘contemporary’ repertoire is now allocated to Metier.