Monthly Archives: October 2012

Doctoral students Sini Timonen and Alex Jeffery present at major international conference

Two of the Centre’s doctoral students presented papers at a major international conference, Imagining Communities Musically: Putting Popular Music in its Place’, held by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) last week at the University of Salford.

Sini Timonen, who is in the closing stages of her PhD on women musicians’ contribution to popular music in England between 1962 and 1971, gave a paper entitled ‘The Girl Singer in 1960s London: the Position of Female Vocalists within the Pop Music Industry’. Drawing on original interviews conducted with lesser-known ‘Brit Girls’ active on the London pop scene in the sixties, Sini explored the major challenges they faced, the strategies by which they navigated them, and the implications of the essentially male-oriented contexts in which they worked.

Alexander Jeffery presented the paper ‘Reconfiguring Prince: how online fan communities are taking back control of the album’, in which he examined traditions amongst Prince fans active in online forums of proposing their own alternative track listings for landmark albums such as Purple Rain as well as abandoned album projects. Alex, who has recently entered his second year on the doctoral programme, is conducting research on manifestations of the long-form musical work in contemporary popular culture.

Alex is supervised by Dr Christopher Wiley and Sini is co-supervised by Dr Wiley and Professor Steve Stanton.

Recent Performances by UG student Larissa Zetlein

Larissa Zetlein has been very busy performing trombone. To start the summer off she successfully got the 1st trombone job in the Central Band of the Royal British Legion, which provides a large amount of performance opportunities throughout the year. This summer with the Central Band she played at the Winter Gardens in Margate; Centre Court at Wimbledon for both the male and female finals; a week in Eastbourne at the famous Bandstand; a Long Service Ceremony for the Met Police; at the Theatre Royale in Windsor for the Windsor Festival, and even a wedding with Embassy Big Band (all musicians from Central Band).

As well as performing with the Central Band over the summer, the last weekend in September was spent in Dover recording a Christmas CD. One of the best parts of Larissa’s summer, however, came when she played in a BBC Prom on the 12th August with the National Youth Wind Orchestra. Larissa has been a member of NYWO since 2008. The NYWO’s programme was an all British one: Vaughan-Williams’ Flourish for Winds; Holst’s Suite No. 2 in F; the world premiere of Gavin Higgins’ Der Aufstand; Martin Ellerby Paris’ Sketches and finally Walton’s Crown Imperial (even making use of the Royal Albert Hall Organ for the ending).

Recent and forthcoming conference presentations by Dr Laudan Nooshin

Laudan has recently spoken at two conferences. First, she presented a paper at the Perspectives on Musical Improvisation conference at the University of Oxford, 10th to 13th September. Her paper, which was entitled  ‘Beyond the Radif: New Forms of Improvisational Practice in Iranian Music’, explored the ways in which young Iranian classical musicians are developing new approaches to improvisation which move away from the traditional repertoire known as radif which has been central to the classical tradition for the past 150 years.


Also in September, Laudan spoke at the British Forum for Ethnomusicology’s Graduate Conference ,’Music and Movement’, at the Institute of Musical Research, University of London, on a roundtable on research ethics. Her contribution was entitled: ‘Are Research Ethics Committees Ethical?’.


Forthcoming presentations include a training session on ethics for research students as part of the Institute of Musical Research’s series of training events for research students.


Laudan will also be presenting at the joint conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory, to be held in New Orleans from 1st to 4th November. She is speaking on a panel entitled ‘Improvisation: Object of Study and Critical Paradigm’ and will share a platform with Bruno Nettl and George E. Lewis, among others.


‘Prince Zal and the Simorgh’: Iranian Music Education Project with the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Laudan Nooshin 

Between November 2011 and May 2012, a partnership between the Community and Education Department at the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) and the Centre for Music Studies at City University London introduced Iranian music, culture and story-telling to key stage 2 school children in South London. Jointly funded by the LPO, City University London and the Higher Education Innovation Fund, the project brought together composer David Bruce, storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton, Iranian musicians Arash Moradi and Fariborz Kiani, members of City University’s Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and other City students, and the Bridge Project music education programme. The project was led by myself and Patrick Bailey, head of the Community and Education Department at the LPO.

The project centred around the Iranian epic Shahnameh – ‘Book of Kings’, written by Abolqasem Ferdowsi (940-1020 CE) – and specifically the story of Prince Zal: born albino and abandoned as a baby, Zal is found and raised by the magical and wise Simorgh bird; many years later he is reconciled with his family and returns triumphantly as the new king. With its many topical themes of tolerance and forgiveness, this story proved a wonderfully rich source for use with British school children. The project began in the autumn with workshops in two South London primary schools: Jessop and Ashmole schools. The children were introduced to the melodies and rhythms of Iranian music and to the story of Prince Zal and the Simorgh, as retold in English by storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton. Through the workshops, the children created musical ideas of their own to portray characters such as the Simorgh, or the magical mountain where she lives, ideas which were later used by composer David Bruce for his orchestral piece. Also involved in the workshop were City music students – violinists Rachel Hobby and Beverley Cooper, and Christina Michael and Lucasz Kapraz on Iranian daff (frame drum) – and violin teachers from the Bridge Project, an organisation which provides instrumental teaching in socio-economically disadvantaged areas of South London, and aims to encourage the children, their families and their communities to develop a life-long appreciation for classical music. City composer Alice Jeffreys shadowed composer David Bruce.

Following the Autumn workshops, David Bruce wrote the specially- commissioned piece ‘Prince Zal and the Simorgh’, which was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank on 23rd May as part of the LPO’s Bright Sparks schools concerts series. Sally Pomme Clayton narrated the story, accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by David Angus; Arash Moradi on setār and Kurdish tanbur and Fariborz Kiani on percussion; members of the City University Middle Eastern Music Ensemble on daff frame drums –  Andrew Allen, Timothy Doyle, Christos Seas, Emma Langley and Jonathon Porter; and fifty key stage 1 violinists from Jessop and Ashmole Schools with their Bridge Project teachers. Each of the two concerts was attended by 2,500 key stage 2 children and their teachers. The central theme of the concert was telling stories through music, and as well as David Bruce’s piece the children were treated to extracts from Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev, Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky and a very lively and enjoyable sing-along ‘I Wanna be Like You’ from The Jungle Book film, music by Richard and Robert Sherman. For many of the children, this was their first experience of a live orchestral concert and there was an air of great excitement. Presenter Andrew Barclay did a wonderful job of introducing the music, including elements of audience participation between pieces.

In the lead up to the concerts in the spring, I wrote a teacher’s pack for use in the classroom introducing pupils to Iran – the country, and its traditions of music, story telling, poetry and visual arts. The pack also included ideas and suggestions for practical classroom activities in preparation for the forthcoming concerts. Some of the teachers also participated in preparatory workshops run by the LPO Education and Community Department and led by myself and Patrick Bailey.

Several teachers gave very positive feedback on the concerts and other activities associated with the project. One of them explained, ‘In the week before the concert we used the story in our literacy lessons, describing the Simorgh, using drama and role play to investigate character and writing diary entries for Prince Zal from the different stages of the story. The children were really engaged with the story and with the drama and produced some really good writing. It exposed children to a new culture. Their listening skills were developed by using Prince Zal’s [musical] theme to understand how a character changes over the course of a story. And the concert also inspired the children in their own music-making … we also used the drumming rhythmic patterns (groups of 2 and 3 notes) from the resources pack in a mathematics lesson, working out which numbers could or could not be made by adding strings of 2s and 3s’. In another school, children painted their own pictures of the Simorgh, taking inspiration from the beautifully detailed miniature paintings of the Shahnameh stories found in old manuscripts, an example of which was included in the teacher’s pack

All in all, this was a very worthwhile and valuable project. We hope that there will be opportunities to extend this project in the future, both through school workshops and further performances of the piece, in the UK and abroad. There is also discussion about a possible children’s picture book with the accompanying music. In the current international climate, it’s hard to overstate the importance of projects like this which aim to promote greater cultural tolerance and understanding, and in particular a more positive image and understanding of Iran – its people, culture and history – than pupils might normally experience through the media and other kinds of representation. And what better way to do it than through music!


For further information on the project, see the links below:

Sally Pomme Clayton’s blog:

David Bruce’s website:

The Bridge Project


‘Prince Zal and the Simorgh’ workshop, Autumn 2011. Young violinists at Ashmole School, Lambeth, with City University music student Beverley Cooper in the background.

Premiere of ‘Prince Zal and the Simorgh’ by David Bruce, LPO Bright Sparks Schools Concert, Royal Festival Hall, 23rd May 2012.



Picture of the Simorgh by Oscar Murphy of Lee Manor School, South London.

Composer David Bruce and conductor David Angus in rehearsal. Photo: Neil Matthews.



Centre for Music Studies Research Seminar, Wednesday 17th October: Professor Philip Tagg

The Centre for Music Studies is pleased to welcome Professor Philip Tagg of the University of Huddersfield to launch our latest research seminar series on Wednesday 17th October. He will give a paper entitled ‘Troubles with tonal terminology and notations of form in popular music’ which interrogates some of the problems encountered when using ‘euro-classical’ music theory to analyse popular musics. This seminar is open to all and we welcome attendance from those in other departments and from visitors from outside City University London.

Philip Tagg is a musician and composer turned musicologist with a background in both popular and art music. In 1981 he co-founded the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) and in 1991 initiated work on the Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World (EPMOW). He is an internationally recognised authority on topics like Popular Music Analysis and Music and the Moving Image. He has taught at the University of Göteborg, Université de Montréal, and University of Liverpool’s Institute of Popular Music. He is now retired and lives in Yorkshire where, as Visiting Professor at the universities of Salford and Huddersfield, he continues to write and to produce his ‘edutainment’ videos.

Professor Philip Tagg (University of Huddersfield): ‘Troubles with tonal terminology and notations of form in popular music’. Wednesday 17th October 2012, 5.30pm, in room AG09 (ground floor, College building). Free seminar – all welcome.

For more information about Professor Tagg’s work, please see his website at

For more information about future research seminars, please see the University’s event page ( or follow us on Twitter (

City Student Wins Composition Competition

MA Composing for Moving Images student Antonio Ballestin Liarte has won joint first prize in the Italy Percussion Competition for his percussion ensemble piece Highway Soundscapes. The 15 minute piece is based on the composer’s own experience of driving more than 600 km on different motorways every week during last three years. Through the four seasons and different hours of the day, the roads offered changing landscapes that gave inspiration for the piece. Highway Soundscapes was also selected for the Tromp International Percussion Competition in Eindhoven.

The first performance of the work took place on the 30th May 2010 in Rotterdam at the Lantaren Venster Theatre.

PhD Student Composes Score for Venice Biennale

PhD student Marios Aristopoulos composed the music for the short film Archadapting, An evolution to the past which is being screened in the Architecture Biennale in Venice from 29th August to 25th November 2012, as part of the Spanish Pavilion.
Marios  was also sound designer for the Summer Shorts Theatre Festival that took place at the 59E59 Theatres near Central Park, New York. It included premieres of new works by major American playwrights such as Neil Labute and Wendy Kesselman. Click for more information or read the review in the New York Times.
Marios is studying with Dr Miguel Mera.

PAKAW! at City University

On Tuesday 9th October PAKAW!, the all-female combo that pushes the boundaries of the traditional, visits City University London’s Performance Space.

Katerina, Muzmee, Paressa, Olympia and Duygu met in the lively Rebetiko music scene in London. The diversity of their musical backgrounds – from Classical to Latin American, from Byzantine Chant to Ska, from Turkish rhythms to Russian Polyphony – means they have an intoxicating range of colours and flavours to draw upon. What unites them in spirit is their love for Greek music and all the traditions and historical worlds it touches, from the Balkans to the Greek Islands, from the Black Sea to the mountains of Epirus.

As the only all female band with a Greek repertoire, PAKAW! turn heads before they play a note. PAKAW!’s performances radiate a unique energy, always capturing their vibrant audience, be it in London or the beautiful island of Mytilene. They have played in venues across London, including the National Theatre, and have toured to Istanbul and Athens.

The concert is at 7pm in the Performance Space (ALG10), College Building, Northampton Square.
Admission is free, places can be booked via:!

Find out more about our concert series at: