Monthly Archives: January 2013

New volume on ‘Christian Congregational Music’ features former and current City PhD students

Soon to be published by Ashgate ‘Christian Congregational Music: Performance, Identity and Experience’, is co-edited by former PhD student Carolyn Landau. The volume explores the role of congregational music in Christian religious experience, examining how musicians and worshippers perform, identify with and experience belief through musical praxis. It features a chapter by current City doctoral student Mark Porter entitled ‘Moving between musical worlds: worship music, significance and ethics in the lives of contemporary worshippers.’ The volume is due to be published in July.

Further details can be found at


Dionysios Kyropoulos: Recent news

City Music graduate Dionysios Kyropoulos has been awarded the Worshipful Company of Musicians Prize for his outstanding undergraduate final-year Major Project entitled ‘Rhetoric, Affekt and Gesture in Handelian Opera: Towards a holistic approach to historically informed performance’.

After his recent graduation, Dionysios performed the role of Uberto in Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona in Stuttgart, Germany, followed by the roles of Masetto and Commendatore in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Thames Philharmonia conducted by Byung-Yun Yu. He created the role of the Whale in Danyal Dhondy’s new opera Just So, premiered at the 2012 Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival, and he also participated in the British Youth Opera production of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride in which he sang in the chorus and understudied the role of Mícha.

Dionysios, who graduated with a first-class BMus(Hons) degree, frequently gives talks about historical stagecraft at the Handel House Museum. This academic year he is back at City University London as the tutor of the City Opera Ensemble, where he offers undergraduate music students theoretical and practical training in operatic performance in his capacity as music and stage director. He is using this opportunity to experiment with period stagecraft and further develop his academic research. Next year he will be studying for the MPhil in Music Studies at the University of Cambridge.

He has continued his association with the Historical Performance Department at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and recently sung the role of Father Time in The Masque of Time, devised by Andrew Lawrence-King and directed by Victoria Newlyn. A revival of this production is scheduled for 26 March in St Stephen Walbrook. Dionysios is currently preparing to sing in Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu nostri, Handel’s Atalanta with Cambridge Handel Opera and Holst’s Wandering Scholar with Opéra les Fauves.

For Dionysios’s biography, news and upcoming concerts, please visit his website

Five minutes with: Luci Briginshaw

Luci BriginshawLuci Briginshaw (soprano) and Ian Pace (piano) will be performing tonight in The Performance Space, 7pm, City University London. We spent five minutes having a quick chat with Luci ahead of rehearsals:

Firstly, please tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I graduated from King’s College London, where I did an academic music degree (so not much to do with singing), ten years ago. Since then I’ve been working in an office, and on the side repeatedly trying to get into music college to study singing further. This never really happened, so I’m striking out on my own! I’m very soon going to leave my office job, and be a full-time singer, and this is thanks to my position as an official operatic busker at Covent Garden Market, which, believe or not, does now bring in enough money to live on. I do also occasionally get paid to be in opera productions!

How did you get into music and what made you pursue a career as a musician?

I’ve always wanted to be a musician for as long as I can remember. I badgered my mum to teach me the piano as soon as I was old enough to stand up and bang on the keys. She very kindly financed private piano lessons for me from the age of 5 to 18, and somewhere along that line it became clear to me that singing, and not the piano, was my true love, (although being a pianist is an invaluable aid now I am a singer).

What is it in particular that draws you to opera?

Great music sounds best when sung by a really beautiful voice, in my opinion. Opera has the best tunes, and I want to be the one that sings them!

You’ve recently performed roles such as The Queen (The Magic Flute), Clorinda (La Cenerentola) and Olympia (Les contes d’Hoffmann) as well as Mrs Rogers/Nurse in the new children’s opera My Mother Told Me Not To Stare. What has been your favourite role and why?

I am also about to sing the role of Leila in the Pearl Fishers in April, which I think will be lovely, as well as The Queen of the Night yet again in November. The Queen sings two absolutely phenomenal songs which are great fun, but as a role I couldn’t really say it’s my favourite because in reality you’re very disconnected from the rest of the cast, and spend most of the opera backstage, which is a little dull. As an experience, rather than just as a ‘role’, I would say my favourite job has been the new opera last year, as it was so special to feel I was part of creating something truly new, not just trying to emulate what thousands of sopranos had done before me. And it was also just a really great show!

Yes, creating something new is certainly a different challenge. Is that something you would like to be involved in the future, creating and presenting new operatic works?

I would love to do more contemporary work, yes; it’s very exciting to me. The only downside is it’s incredibly difficult to convince the public to come and see something new; they are very apprehensive, and worried they won’t like it. It’s such a shame that so many wonderful new pieces are being ignored.

Was it a different challenge performing specifically for children?

The challenge of performing to children had largely been taken care of by the composer and librettist, who had created a wonderfully tailor-made children’s story, with accessible music; but a challenge that I, as an actor, had to face was that all of the singing I did was performed with some kind of mask on my face. This meant that all the expression I put into had to be via movement of my body, which did take some getting used to.

It can be difficult to bring together the many hundreds of versions of well-known works when it comes to performance. How do you normally go about approaching well-known works with regards to taking influence from others, yet maintaining your own interpretation and voice?

I tend to learn a piece from the music on the score, and not listen to anyone else performing it until I have already learnt it. Having said that, for extremely well-known works, there is no avoiding the fact that you’ve heard it many times before. I think you just have to colour your interpretation with feelings that accompany the “getting inside” of that particular character – this will always result in an individual performance, because no-one else can be inside your head and therefore sing it exactly as you do.

Finally, what tips do you have for others pursuing a career in music, and more specifically opera?

If it is truly what you want to do, then don’t give up. Don’t bother taking personal offence at any criticism given. And also, although this bit can be tricky, really make sure you have the right teacher. You can waste years going to the same teacher because you like them, or they make you feel comfortable, but you should know in your heart whether or not they are advancing your technique at a noticeable speed. If not, shop around. And don’t give up! Mainly, don’t give up.


Luci will be performing a programme of Rebecca Clarke, Vincenzo Bellini, Richard Strauss, Jules Massenet and Ambroise Thomas, in the Performance Space tonight, at 7pm.

Admission is free; further details can be found at:,-passion-and-madness



Professor Stephen Cottrell inaugural lecture and book launch, Tuesday February 5th

Professor Stephen Cottrell

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Blow: the Saxophone as a Musical Miscreant

The saxophone is one of the most recognised musical instruments in the world. Loved by many, loathed by some, in the early twenty-first century it has both a musical and symbolic significance far beyond that for which its inventor, Adolphe Sax, might reasonably have hoped.

It also has a chequered history. Originally conceived in the mid-nineteenth century as a bass instrument to be included in orchestras and military bands, since then it has been found in a wide range of musical contexts, some of which have led to the instrument having at a times a very poor reputation. In the 1920s particularly, the saxophone suffered by its association with dance music and jazz, and the vilification often aimed at both. And for much of the rest of the twentieth century the instrument was often regarded with ambivalence by the musical establishment; it was enormously popular in some contexts, certainly, yet always retained something of its earlier disreputable profile.

This lecture will trace something of the saxophone’s history and development, looking at the ways inwhich the instrument’s reputation has changed over the past 170 years or so, while also demonstrating how musical instruments can reveal to us underlying social, cultural and technological precepts in the contexts in which they are found. The lecture will conclude with a short performance.

Tuesday February 5th, 6:30-8pm
Performance Space
College Building
St John Street
London EC1V 4PB

Find out more and book your place:,-bad-and-dangerous-to-blow-the-saxophone-as-a-musical-miscreant

A small reception will follow the lecture where copies of The Saxophone, Professor Cottrell’s new monograph published by Yale University Press, will be available.

Stephen Cottrell was appointed as Professor of Music at City University London in 2010. He was a professional saxophonist for nearly two decades before moving into academia in the late 1990s. During his professional performing career he specialised in the performance of new music, commissioning works from many renowned composers and founding and leading the Delta Saxophone Quartet from 1984 to 2001. He has made numerous recordings and broadcasts, both as a soloist, with the Quartet, and with a wide variety of other ensembles. In 2001 he joined the staff of the Department of Music at Goldsmiths College London, later becoming Senior Lecturer and Head of Department. He was for many years Treasurer of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and remains on the editorial board of the journal twentieth-century music. He has published widely, including a 2004 monograph on Professional Music-making in London (Ashgate).

Liam Cagney: Recent Publications

Second year PhD student Liam Cagney has had his work featured recently in a couple of publications.

A couple of months back Liam had an article published by Sinfini Classical. Entitled ‘When Techno Meets Classical’, the article uses the release of techno artist Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed album on Deutsche Gramophone to explore other crossovers between these two very different musical genres. You can read the article (and listen to its clips) here:

The December issue of Opera Magazine featured a review by Liam of the American composer Robert Ashley’s opera Vidas Perfectas. A translation into Spanish of Ashley’s Perfect Lives, originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the early 1980s, Vidas Perfectas was performed recently at Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery.

And an extract from a short story by Liam was recently read out on national radio in Ireland. The story, entitled ‘The Party’, featured on 2 January on RTE Radio One’s flagship arts show Arena. You can listen to the extract at this link, starting around 37:10 in: