City Music students visit Fabric

Students taking a new module in Electronic Dance Music had a privileged visit to Clerkenwell clubbing institution Fabric recently. They were met and shown around the building by the club manager, artistic programmer, marketing manager and chief sound engineer, who all gave unique perspectives on what it takes to run a large, iconic club in London for the last 18 years.

 

Students were able to set foot inside the famous Room 1 DJ booth, experience the unique ‘bodysonic’ sub-bass transducer dance floor, as well as hear the same music played back (at full volume!) on different systems… all to themselves!

  

 

A huge thanks to Judy, Kirsti, Luke and Pierre for taking their time to host us.

City Music Department Christmas Cabaret 2017!

The Music Department celebrated the end of the Autumn Term in style with the annual Christmas Cabaret on the afternoon of 15th December.

Starting with the much-loved students vs staff quiz – which the students won, of course! – the afternoon featured appearances by the gamelan, led by Andy Channing, and the jazz-improvisation ensemble, led by Shirley Smart, the staff biscuit tin ensemble performed the world premiere of a specially-commissioned piece by MA student Gilberto Filho, for 5 biscuit tins played with a selection of vegetables, and we were treated to some vocal delights including a Disney medley and the traditional 12 Days of City Christmas.

We also had a beautiful specially-baked cake made by 3rd year students Harriet McBurnie and Eunji Choi. And we raised £50 for Mind and the Islington Law Centre by raffling and auctioning the beautiful handmade cabaret posters (to add to the £170 already raised in Trafalgar Square on 13th December).

The afternoon ended with a set by the funk band, when the performance space turned into a dance floor. Thanks to the Cabaret Committee and to everyone for contributing to such a fun afternoon. Happy Christmas all and see you next term!

     

      

      

 

City Chamber Choir Performs in Trafalgar Square!

The City University Chamber Choir has had a busy end of term with three performances in just over a week. The first was its annual Christmas Concert at St Clement’s Church, King Square, on Wednesday 6th December, with a seasonal mix of carols and a complete performance of Bob Chilcot’s ‘A Little Jazz Mass’.

The following week, on 13th December, the choir gave a lunchtime performance of carols at the main university entrance, in conjunction with the University Chaplaincy.

The choir finished its trio of performances with singing under the christmas tree in Trafalgar Square on the evening of 13th December. Despite the damp weather and competition from the bells of St Martin the Fields (!), much fun was had by all, fuelled by plenty of mince pies! We raised £170 in aid of Mind and the Islington Law Centre.

The City Chamber Choir is conducted by Tim Hooper and is open to anyone in the university. Just email music@city.ac.uk if you’d like to find out more about singing with us.  

 

The first symposium of our new research centre SPARC

In late September we launched our new research centre SPARC, Sound Practice And Research @ City, with the Touching Sound symposium, the first of our yearly September Symposiums.

We spent two days contemplating the tactility of sound with a group of people fr om a variety of disciplines. Surgeon Prof Roger Kneebone, our key-note, opened proceedings with his talk on touch in medicine where he introduced us to the fascinating world of surgery and his collaboration with a lace-maker. He explained that for him, attending to touch, is a way of looking at the practice of surgery that can bring into view aspects that might not be otherwise apparent.

Composers Dr James Weeks reminded us that in music we have a tendency to priorities words that are associated with touch, such as texture, temperature, grain and introduced us to one of his works that evokes such tactility. Dr Aaron Einbond suggested a sense of disembodiment through reproduction, transcription, and trace in his compositional practice, and Dr Amber Priestley introduced us to one of her installations which we had the pleasure to experience hands on during a concert in the evening. Alongside wonderful performances by violist Benedict Taylor and guitarist Pétur Jónasson with live-coding by Dr Thor Magnusson. Pétur, in his talk earlier in the day asked whether a sonic instance could leave a permanent physical marker in our brain if it elicits a strong emotion, and Thor questioned whether the composed-work-concept is disappearing due to the expanding use of anthropic digital instruments.

Digital artist Amie Ray had us taste letters and kneed play-dough, choreographer Teoma Naccarato gave us insight into her collaborative practice in creating intimate, one-to-one dance performances, and ceramicist Julian Stair introduced us to his Quietus project that explores the containment of the human body after death.

Composer/sound artist Jan Hendrickse, understanding the body as a contested site which is caught in a constant performance, asked us to reimagine the body as musical structure. Dr Miguel Mera showed us how the synchronicity of sound and sight can elicit touch in film, and PhD candidate William Cole proposed touch as a model for an expanded musical form. Dr Adam Harper explored the tangibility of the digital by explaining that the digital does not lack physicality, but rather possesses a different kind of physicality. And landscape architect Johanna Gibbons introduced us to the connections between soil and roots with our lived experience.

In due course there will be a publication connected with this symposium, and we are very much looking forward to our next symposium in September 2018 called Socio-Sonic: an exploration of the social in sound.

Laudan Nooshin Chapter in Award-Winning Book

City Music Head of Department Laudan Nooshin is delighted to report that a book that she has contributed to has been awarded a major academic book prize.

Jazz Worlds/World Jazz (Chicago University Press, 2016), edited by Philip V. Bohlman and Goffrredo Plastino, has received the American Musicological Society Ruth A. Solie Award, given each year to a collection of musicological essays of exceptional merit.

Laudan’s chapter is entitled ‘Jazz and its Social Meanings in Iran: From Cultural Colonialism to the Universal’, and explores various aspects of jazz and its social meanings in Iran from the 1950s onwards, focusing in particular on the period of cultural liberalism that followed the election of reformist President Khatami in 1997. Whilst most forms of western popular music were branded as a form of cultural imperialism and banned after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, jazz managed to remain largely unproblematic, mainly because it was positioned as a form of  “art” music and as a  “universal” musical expression. Laudan discusses the changing meanings of jazz in Iran over the past 70 years.

Jazz Worlds/World Jazz includes 16 chapters which explore a range of jazz traditions around the world, from Ethiopian jazz and Indian fusion, to Balkan swing and South African jazz.

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/J/bo19637106.html

Dr Lingas Spends Autumn Reading Week on the Road Lecturing in Oregon and Chanting in Winchester


Autumn Reading Week found Alexander Lingas active on both sides of the Atlantic. He began by offering a public talk on ‘Russian Sacred Music between Byzantium and ‘the West’ at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, USA.  Sponsored by the Reed College departments of Russian and Music, it considered the shifting cultural location of Russian Orthodox sacred music as rulers, clergy, and lay members of the church steered it from its Byzantine origins into the modern era. Repeated attempts through the centuries to re-engage with Byzantine traditions were contrasted with other movements emphasizing engagement with Western art music or Slavic exceptionalism. The next day he offered a lecture on Russian liturgy and its music to an undergraduate module on the history of Russian literature.

The morning after returning to the UK Dr Lingas travelled to the University of Winchester, where he demonstrated Byzantine chant at a Study Day sponsored by the Tavener Centre for Music and Spirituality. The day ended with Evensong at Winchester Cathedral, which included traditional Byzantine chanting alongside choral works by the late Sir John Tavener.

 

 

 

Tullis Rennie releases new record ‘Muscle Memory’

Muscle Memory is a new record by composer Tullis Rennie, featuring two recently composed sound pieces made in collaboration with Matthew Bourne and Graham South.

The new release was recently described by The Wire Magazine as “a piece of meta art; an album about listening to music”.

The record is part autobiographic docu-music, part jazz-inspired dreamscape. It is available as a limited numbered vinyl only release from November 2017.

Each recording begins on the sofa in the house of a collaborator. Tullis joins Matthew in his idyllic Yorkshire hilltop live-in studio, and  Graham in his Manchester red-brick front room. From ‘listening-in’ to chat in these domestic spaces, we then float into abstract realms of electronic textures and improvised musical conversations between each pair.

The release was recently celebrated with a series of intimate listening parties held in living rooms in London, Hasting, Brighton and Manchester.

Dr Simon Waters, in a Contemporary Music Review article discussing the work, writing:

“Muscle Memory begins to answer questions about how one work can comment on and analyse or critique another through its own agency as music. It also demonstrates how a work can marshal autobiography and ethnography to illuminate the human capacity to manipulate and be manipulated by musical activity. It explicitly engages multiple modes of listening and points of view: documentary ‘field’ recordist; participant observer; soundscape composer; ‘amateur’ musicologist and music lover; DJ and remix artist; spectromorphological composer—and allows the listener to explore different modes of listening through these multiple and nested points of view such that this becomes the primary formal concern. The listening home (the point of view) is contingent and transitory as we move through the scant twelve and a half minutes of the piece, so the listener is constantly becoming re-involved with, and made conscious of, the act of listening”

Waters, S. (2015) ‘Tullis Rennie’s Muscle Memory : Listening to the Act of Listening’ Contemporary Music Review 34(1), pp.22–32.

 

Dr Laudan Nooshin – Recent Conference Presentations

Over the past few months, Dr Laudan Nooshin (Head of Department) has presented a number of keynote presentations and conference papers, including at the International Council for Traditional Music conference in Limerick, Ireland, in July and the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology Conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, in September. Laudan also presented an invited keynote paper at the conference ‘Tracking the Creative Process in Music’ at the University of Huddersfield in September. Her paper was entitled ‘The Elephant and the Blind Men: Myth-Making, Tracking and Musical Creativity’. 

More recently, on October 21st, Laudan presented a joint paper with Professor Amanda Bayley from Bath Spa University, at the annual One-Day conference of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, on the conference theme ‘”Listening to Difference”: Music and Multiculturalism.

Their paper was entitled ‘Whose Difference? Whose “Multiculturalism?”’ and was a critique of some of the current discourses around music and multiculturalism. In particular, the paper argued that such discourses are founded on a view of culture as relatively stable and bounded, rather than as a fluid and ongoing process, and that culture should be understood as a verb – as something that people do – rather than a noun. Just as Christopher Small argued for the notion of ‘musicking’, we perhaps need to talk about ‘culturing’. The paper explored the power relations at play in such discourses and asked whether language of ‘multiculturalism’ reinforces or transcends difference. Since all cultures are ‘multi’, the prefix is arguably redundant. The paper asked who stands to gain and who to lose from the idea of distinct cultures as the starting point for a supposedly relatively new thing called ‘multiculturalism’.

 

 

 

Drs Lingas and Antonopoulos in Romania at the Iași Byzantine Music Festival

“Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre

During the last weekend of September 2017 Alexander Lingas and Spyridon Antonopoulos joined their colleagues in the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana for the inaugural Iași Byzantine Music Festival. The group was invited to Romania to perform its new programme of chant for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross as celebrated in the medieval rite of Hagia Sophia, a product of its participation in the research project Icons of Sound based at Stanford University.  Held before a capacity audience in the “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre, the concert began with hymns in Arabic and Greek sung by the choir of the Hamatoura Monastery in Lebanon. Dr Lingas also joining esteemed colleagues in the field of Byzantine music as a member of the festival’s Scientific Committee, an academic and artistic advisory board.

A video of the complete performance is available here: https://doxologia.ro/evenimente/video-concert-extraordinar-de-muzica-psaltica-la-teatrul-national-din-iasi

Alexander Lingas directs Cappella Romana in Iasi

Spyridon Antonopoulos chants with Mark Powell and David Stutz

Dr Spyridon Antonopoulos leads Psaltikon ensemble on Scandinavian tour

Psaltikon in Copenhagen

Dr Spyridon Antonopoulos, Honorary Research Fellow at City, recently led the vocal ensemble Psaltikon on a three-concert tour in Scandinavia. Psaltikon, founded by Antonopoulos in 2010, is a Boston-based vocal ensemble specializing in Byzantine chant and the music of the Eastern Mediterranean. For this tour, Psaltikon was joined by City University Reader in Music, Dr Alexander Lingas, along with Antonopoulos and six other singers. Prior to the tour, Dr Antonopoulos and Dr Lingas each gave papers at a Symposium on Religious Poetry and Performance at Uppsala University.

The tour program, entitled “Evenings Lights in Miklagård”, refers to the Scandinavian Viking name for Constantinople, the center of the world in the ninth century, when Halfdan the Viking carved his name into the parapet of the upper floor in Hagia Sophia’s southern gallery. The program explored chants which Halfdan might have heard while he inscribed his runes into Hagia Sophia’s marble. Central to the program were two kontakia, melismatic chants (whose text was originally composed in the sixth or seventh century), inscribed in the Psaltikon, the Constantinopolitan chant book for virtuoso soloists (the complementary Asmatikon contained the choral repertories). The kontakia were transcribed from a fourteenth century by the renowned musicologist Dr Ioannis Arvanitis, while the rest of the program editions were prepared by Dr Antonopoulos.

The tour’s first venue was the famous anatomical theater of the Museum Gustavianum. The ensemble then sang a concert for an audience of over 100 at Sofia Kyrka in Stockholm, before embarking on a five hour train through the Swedish woodlands to Copenhagen, where they were treated to a tour of the collections at the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, led by Dr Christian Troeslgård.

 

The MMB, founded in the 1930s at the University of Copenhagen, is one of the most important research institutes for Byzantine musicology. The tour closed with a concert in the beautiful acoustic of St. Thomas in the Frederiksburg neighborhood of Copenhagen.