Georgia Rodgers wins Oram Award

Georgia Rodgers has been named as one of five winners of the 2018 Oram Award.

The award build on the legacy of Daphne Oram — one of the founding members of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Oram played a vital role in establishing women at the forefront of innovation in newly emerging audio technologies in the UK and around the world.
Georgia comments:
I’m really pleased to have been selected as one of five winners of this year’s award, which celebrates innovation in music, sound and technology by women. The award is named after composer and founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Daphne Oram. Oram has always been a hero of mine so I’m proud to receive an award in her name and looking forward to hearing a rare performance of her piece Still Point for Orchestra + electronics (1949) at Prom 13 on Monday 23rd July.

Thanks to everyone involved in organising the awards and to everyone who has supported me in getting to this point. I’m looking forward to meeting members of the New BBC Radiophonic Workshop and continuing to develop my music for acoustic instruments and electronics.

The awards were presented at a ceremony at Blue Dot Festival in Jodrell Bank, on Friday 20th July.

Walls on Walls: New audio-visual artwork unveiled in Department of Music

Visitors to City, University of London have joined staff and students to create a new audio-visual art installation in the Department of Music.

Over a period of several months, participants recorded sounds from around the department’s rehearsal, teaching, studio and performance spaces. They also designed and painted artwork on walls of the foyer at the Performance Space.

Speakers have been installed in the area and the 30-minute composition of audio recordings is being played periodically into the room. The finished audio-visual artwork reflects the history, current profile and possible futures of the department, taking inspiration from the architecture of the building and activity happening within it.

Walls On Walls

The work was facilitated by Walls On Walls, a collaboration between Dr Tullis Rennie, who is a composer and City music lecturer, and artist Laurie Nouchka.

Dr Rennie said: “The idea of this project was that anybody in the City community was able to participate – we asked people to pick up paint brushes, explore the area to make recordings and help edit the audio.

“It’s a unique installation because a lot of participative art projects are visual but don’t involve sound. With this work, the group wanted to open up some of the hidden spaces in the department and record sounds that most people are not privy to.”

Practice-based research

The installation is part of Dr Rennie’s practice-based research into collaborative arts process. Practice-based research is a type of study where the aim is to develop knowledge through creative activity.

Dr Rennie’s objective was to observe participation in the creation of an audio-visual community project and see how this translated into the final artwork.

He said: “Participants were taken on a tour and recorded sound from lots of different areas, including the corridors, empty concert rooms, the spaces between rehearsal room and behind doors that are normally closed.”

Dr Rennie added: “They also had electro-magnetic equipment that they could use to record sounds from the wires around the department that connect various studio spaces.

“Students were able to access and edit the recordings themselves and we held an open listening group where everybody could voice opinions.”

The artwork is now a permanent installation in the Department of Music. It was launched at an open public event on Wednesday 30th May 2018.

Dr Rennie recently received a commendation for his work with Walls On Walls in the Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community category of the university’s President’s Awards.

 

Celebrated composer Michael Nyman speaks at City

On Tuesday 29th May, the Department of Music welcomed Michael Nyman CBE, one of Britain’s most celebrated composers, to deliver its first Distinguished Lecture in Music.

In the talk – which was free and open to the public – Nyman discussed his diverse career and musical influences and borrowings. He focused in particular on his allusions to previous music which he has only seen on the page, never heard.

A champion of new music

City’s Head of Performance Ian Pace, who chaired the talk, said: “It was a great privilege to be able to welcome Michael Nyman for this talk.

“Many will know of his scores for films like The Draughtsman’s Contract, The Piano or Wonderland, but he is equally a composer of a great many autonomous and sometimes abstract works, including symphonies, string quartets, song cycles, and so on. Nyman was also a musicologist – and an ethnomusicologist – at the beginning of his career, working on early baroque music and collecting Romanian folk song.”

Ian Pace added: “Furthermore, he championed new music as a critic for The Listener, while his 1974 book Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, was profoundly influential for many.

“For all of these reasons, his diverse work is especially relevant to a department like ours. Nyman’s work, drawing upon pre-existing musics, is far from simply nostalgic or idly eclectic, but represents a very clearly defined and individual sensibility.”

The lecture was part of the Department’s annual three-week festival of music, City Summer Sounds, featuring free events by our students alongside acclaimed international professionals.

 

Ian Pace at Fifty Concert

On 20th April 2018, City University hosted a concert to celebrate the 50th birthday of Ian Pace, Lecturer and Head of Performance in the Department of Music, performed by the pianist himself. This concert was divided into two halves, each showcasing one of Ian’s many pianistic specializations: the first half included three lesser-known works from the early modernist period; while the second was reserved for premières of new works written specially for this occasion – a particularly well-suited decision which celebrates Ian as a promoter and advocate of new music.

The first piece to be performed was Arthur Lourié’s Deux poèmes op. 8(1912). This extremely chromatic piece is an early work and reflects the immense influence that impressionism, and in particularly Scriabin, had on the composer. Next, we heard Stefan Wolpe’s Sonata for Piano (Op. 1, 1925), a remarkable piece whose rhythmic first and second movements were a particular highlight. The first part concluded with a very intimate set of delicate miniatures by Frederico Mompou, entitled Charmes (1920–21).

In the second half, Ian performed 23 short pieces specially written for him in celebration of his 50th birthday. Most of these were gathered by the composer Evan Johnson into a single collection, though other composers also joined in. These works included compositions by Michael Finnissy, Lauren Redhead, James Dillon and Marc Yeats. Ian also performed a shorter version of a composition of his for piano, spoken voice and video projection entitled auseinandergerissene Hälften, which deals with themes of cultural classes and cultural freedom.

The full list of works performed in the second half (all of which were world premières) is found below.

CHRISTOPHER FOX      Fifty Points of Light (2017)

JAMES DILLON              amethyst (2018)

RODDY HAWKINS         Down-Time for Ian (2007, rev. 2017)

LAUREN REDHEAD        nothing really changes (2017)

MIC SPENCER                 A Maze I(a)n (S)pace (Space [G]race) (2017)

MICHAEL FINNISSY      Were we born yesterday? (2017)

SADIE HARRISON          gentle (2017)

BEN SMITH                     burnt (2017–18)

PATRÍCIA SUCENA DE ALMEIDA       Desperatio (piano piece no. 5) (2017–18)

ALWYNNE PRITCHARD     50 is a magic number (2018)

PAUL OBERMAYER             Fra (electronic music) (2018)

WILLIAM A.P.M.                  Fragment aus einem gebrochenen Geist „kaum intakt“ (2018)

WALTER ZIMMERMANN    Stars for Ian (2017)

IAN PACE                                auseinandergerissene Hälften (2018)

JESSE RONNEAU                    AGHB (2017)

ELERI ANGHARAD POUND  pbh (2017–18)

MORGAN HAYES                    Comparison (2018)

MARC YEATS                            exordium (2017)

ALANNAH MARIE HALAY     Progress always comes late (2017)

NIGEL MCBRIDE                      wide stare stared itself (2017–18)

ALISTAIR ZALDUA                   Sylph Figures for Ian Pace (2017)

WIELAND HOBAN                    Whiptail (2017)

EVAN JOHNSON                       qu’en joye on vous demaine (2017)

Several of these compositions were only a single page long and many made direct references to Ian himself and his birthday. For instance, Christopher Fox’s Fifty Points of Light is constructed using exactly fifty stemless notes, Morgan Hayes’s Comparison reuses material from an earlier composition written for Ian’s 30th birthday and Nigel McBride’s wide stare stared itself is structured upon conversations between the composer and the pianist.

This was great opportunity to hear a wide variety of contemporary piano music, in particular since the programme included a large selection of contemporary composers with many different approaches to music.

Ian said: “I was incredibly touched by the collection, assembled by US composer Evan Johnson, who wrote that this collection was ‘in recognition of a career built around the persistent championing of young or unduly ignored composers, and of difficult or otherwise unreasonable music: the sort often thankless effort that can indelibly shape a nascent compositional career, build decades-long collaborations, and begin to change the face of a repertoire”

A selection of excepts from scores can be seen on Ian’s blog page.

You can also can watch a recording of the concert here.

 

Gilberto Agostinho,PhD Composition student

 

 

City Chamber Choir Trip to Paris, April 2018

Members of the Music Department Chamber Choir travelled to Paris earlier this month for a collaborative performance on Tuesday April 10th of the Brahms Requiem with the choir and orchestra of Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) at the beautiful church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont close to the Sorbonne.

The collaboration was facilitated by Dr Alice Mesnard (from City’s Economics Department) and the concert was part of the Paris Sciences & Lettres spring music festival.

The concert was a great experience for everyone involved and a good opportunity to meet and make friends with the French student performers. We look forward to further collaborations and are hoping to invite them over to London next year.

The preceding Friday, 6th April, the whole Chamber Choir performed the Brahms in the beautiful setting of St Giles Cripplegate, in the Barbican, conducted by Tim Hooper and with Ian Pace and Ben Smith accompanying with the piano duet version. The soprano solo was performed by 3rd year BMus student, Emilie Parry-Williams.

Both concerts were a great success. Many congratulations to Chamber Choir and thanks to Tim for all his dedicated work with the choir this year!

In rehearsal

Celebrating afterwards

 

 

 

Five Forgotten Female Composers Celebrated in Concert at LSO St Luke’s

The work of Visiting Research Fellow Graham Griffiths was featured at a wonderful concert at LSO St Luke’s on Thursday March 8th to mark International Women’s Day.

The concert was part of the AHRC/BBC project ‘Five Forgotten Female Composers’ and included the first performance in over 120 years of the Symphony in b minor, op.4 by Russian composer Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940), a performance only made possible through Dr Griffiths’ research.

The other composers whose work featured were:

  • Marianna Martines (1744-1813), an Austrian who enjoyed fame throughout Europe in her lifetime
  • Florence B. Price (1887-1953), an estemeed African American Symphonist
  • Augusta Holmès (1847-1903), a French-Irish Writer of largescale oratorios and operas
  • Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868-1941), an Austrian whose works range from chamber music to orchestral tone-poems and oratorios

The concert was performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and conducted by Jane Glover.

Leokadiya Kashperova, born in 1872, was a Russian pianist and tutor who wrote Romantic songs and instrumental music. After marrying a revolutionary with links to Lenin, she was forced to leave her home city during the 1917 Russian Revolution and her music was never published or performed again. She died in 1940.

Dr Griffiths has been studying Kashperova since 2002, when her name appeared during his research for the book, Stravinsky’s Piano: Genesis of a Musical Language. He found that she was the piano teacher of the great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, but little else was known about her life.

As part of his research, Dr Griffiths, embarked on several trips to St Petersburg and Moscow, during which he uncovered the composer’s biography and her lost compositions, including a symphony, which was completed in 1905.

He said: “One of the great thrills of my most recent visit to Moscow was the discovery of many musical manuscripts – not sketches, but complete works ready, as it were, for publication and performance. Kashperova herself never heard them except in her head”.

The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and can be heard on iplayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e8ncd4

Find out more: https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2018/march/leokadiya-kashperova-bbc-radio-3-forgotten-female-composers

 

Music PhD Students Awarded Fieldwork Grants

Many congratulations to City Music PhD students Gabrielle Messeder and Soosan Lolavar who have been awarded grants to undertake fieldwork related to their research in Beirut and Tehran.

The British Forum for Ethnomusicology Fieldwork Awards Grant Scheme is very competitive and we are delighted that 2 out of the 4  grants this year have been awarded to City students. Gabby and Soosan introduce their projects below.

Gabbrielle Messeder

I’m researching contemporary practices of Brazilian music and dance in Lebanon. Focussing primarily on the genres of samba, bossa nova and música popular brasileira (MPB), I aim to trace their development from the bossa-influenced sound of recordings by Fairouz and Ziad Rahbani in the 1970s to the bands and blocos that perform in Lebanon today. I’ll explore the unique, ambivalent and sometimes contested space that the performance of Brazilian music by both Brazilian and non-Brazilian performers occupies in the cosmopolitan Lebanese musical milieu, and discuss how issues of cultural conservatism, exoticism and stereotyping shape the production, performance and reception of Brazilian music and dance in Lebanon today.

 

Soosan Lolavar

My research brings together the methodologies of composition and ethnomusicology to explore a new movement in music in Iran in which musicians and composers combine aspects of Iranian classical music with ideas more commonly associated with Western music. My work will present both a written ethnography and portfolio of compositions considering the creative, social and political effects of drawing from these two forms, particularly against the backdrop of a post-revolutionary Iran in which objects of Western culture are often associated with the imperialism and colonialism.

African Dance and Drumming Ensemble at the London Marathon

City University Music Department’s African Dance and Drumming ensemble performed at the London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April 2018, under the leadership of Barak Schmool.

The ensemble performed at the north end of Southwark Bridge from 11.30am to 4pm, to encourage the runners and entertain the crowd.

This is the 6th year that the ensemble has done this, joining other students from BIMM, TrinityLaban, the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall and Middlesex University, as well as City music Alumni, to form a samba bateria (percussion section) of some 60 players accompanying vocals and guitars in a wide repertoire of carnival style music from Brazil and elsewhere.

A Riot in Helsingborg

Two members of the City Music department recently travelled to Sweden for world premieres of new works commissioned by the London based Riot Ensemble.

PhD student Georgia Rodgers and Senior Lecturer Dr. Aaron Einbond were selected to take part in the project during the Riot Ensemble’s 2017 Call for Scores, which received nearly 300 applications. An open workshop with the ensemble followed in September 2017, taking place at London’s Southbank as part of the Nordic Music Daysfestival. Six composers took part in total – Aaron, Georgia and Donghoon Shin based in the U.K, and Ansgar Beste, Marcella Lucatelli and Asta Hyvärinen from Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Each composer then had around six months to complete their new piece before meeting in Helsingborg, Sweden, for a concert of premieres by the Riot Ensemble, given as part of the Swedish Society of Composer’s centenary celebrations (#FST100) on 14thApril.

The concert was really successful and Aaron and Georgia’s pieces were very well received. Georgia’s pieceMaeshoweis based on the resonant frequencies of an ancient site on Orkney. The instruments approximate these ‘room modes’ in various ways, and are overlaid with sine tones at the exact frequencies. Aaron’s piece Kate Frankensteinlooked into his family’s history, using video projection, live and pre-recorded sound to explore the story of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to work with the brilliant Riot Ensemble, who were: Ausiàs Garrigos (clarinet), Andy Connington (trombone), David Royo (percussion), Fontane Liang (harp), Neil Georgeson (piano), Louise McMonagle (cello) and Aaron Holloway-Nahum (director). We thank them very much and hope to collaborate with them again in future, and with our new Scandinavian friends!

—Georgia Rodgers

 

Walls on Walls create new installation for Music Department

Over the past few months students and staff in and around the Music Department, along with concert-going visitors, have been taking the opportunity participate in creating a new audio-visual artwork for the Performance Space foyer.

The piece was facilitated by Walls On Walls – visual artist Laurie Nouchka with  composer and Lecturer in Music Tullis Rennie. Their work forms part of Dr Rennie’s practice-based research into participative process and distributed authorship in sound and visual arts practice.

 

The new artwork explores the past history, current profile and possible futures of the department, taking inspiration from the architecture of the building and activity happening within it.

Students from 1st year undergraduate through to Masters and PhD took part in creating the content for this work. The group focused on themes relating to in-between, liminal and hidden spaces of the department.

Students recorded audio in specific spaces, including making electro-magnetic recordings, sounds walks and spoken interviews. Visually, the design emerged by drawing these spaces and responding to the audio through mark-making and audio-visual representations, both literal (sonograms) and more abstract, individual responses.

 

The project offers a chance to learn professional skills in publicly-engaged arts practice. The project also connected more formally with some 2nd year composition modules, MA Interdisciplinarity and the SPARC Listening Group.

We invite you to a sharing of the piece on the Wednesday 30th May 2018 at 6pm in the Performance Foyer space.

Laurie Nouchka, Visiting Artist

https://www.wallsonwalls.co.uk