Monthly Archives: March 2013

Laudan Nooshin presents at ‘Islam and Popular Arts’ conference

In early March 2013, Laudan Nooshin travelled to Amsterdam to take part in a conference entitled ‘Islam and Popular Arts’. The conference was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and convened by Karin van Nieuwkerk (Radboud University, Nijmegen) whose best known books are: A Trade like Any Other: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt (1995) and Muslim Rap, Halal Soaps, and Revolutionary Theater: Artistic Developments in the Muslim World (2011).

The conference brought together invited scholars working on music, theatre, dance and visual arts in a range of Islamic countries, from Ghana and Morocco in the west to Indonesia in the east. A number of papers examined the impact of the political events following the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’ on performing and visual arts, and many of the speakers discussed the emergence of new forms of Islamic artistic expression over recent decades. Laudan’s paper was entitled ‘Discourses of Religiosity in Post-1998 Iranian Popular Music’, and the other UK delegate was Professor Martin Stokes from King’s College London, talking about ‘Islam, Popular Culture and Aesthetics’.

The conference was held in a beautiful converted boathouse right on the canals.

Clare Hammond to perform at the City of London Festival

A recent graduate from the Doctorate of Musical Arts, pianist Clare Hammond, is to perform at the City of London Festival in June 2013 as part of their Young Artists’ Series. She will give the world premiere of Hortus Musicae, a cycle of five pieces specially written for her by the composer Robert Saxton. This will be combined with pieces for left hand by Saxton and Bach-Brahms, and little known miniatures by Hamilton Harty and Jean Sibelius. More information available at and

Ben Schoeman plays Villa-Lobos with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic in South Africa

Ben Schoeman, a DMA student at City University London, performed with one of South Africa’s premier orchestras, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, in a concert on Thursday 14th March. The concert took place in the City Hall of Durban.

Schoeman performed the rarely-performed Bachianas Brasileiras No. 3 for piano and orchestra by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, under the baton of the conductor En Shao. Mr. Schoeman has also been invited to give a series of concerts in South Africa and Namibia during June and July 2013. During one of these concerts he will perform Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the KZNPO at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.


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Henry Balme’s ‘Orfeo’ project awarded CitySpark prize

Second year BMud student Henry Balme has been awarded second prize and £2,000 in the Big Ideas Competition, along with his team partner Arun Frey (a second year Media and Sociology Student). The Big Ideas Competition is sponsored by CitySpark—a City University programme that enhances employability by teaching participants the enterprise skills essential to building a successful business.

Balme and Frey’s winning project is Orfeo: a music player designed to store and organise digital collections of classical music.

As part of CitySpark’s autumn term workshops, the team put together a business plan that eventually led to a pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs. In the role of potential investors, the panel graded each of the twelve participating teams that made it to the final round — a scene that reminded the two second year students of the BBC series Dragon’s Den.

Balme and Frey conceived Orfeo when they realised that iTunes, the predominant music library software on the market, is not able to cater to the complicated structure of classical music. After the awards ceremony, Frey summarised the problem: “try to compress Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen Tetralogy with iTunes’ sorting options ‘Songtitle/Artist/Album/Genre/Year/Songwriter’. By point you’ve reached the Walküre you’ll be pretty annoyed.”

After searching to find music library software that is suited to the unique structure of the complicated genre of classical music, the two friends decided that they needed to step up to the plate themselves.

Balme and Frey have  will use the prize money to fund development of the software over the coming summer.

City University Music Students Present Major Musical Theatre Concert

Students of City University London presented a major Musical Theatre concert in the Centre for Music Studies’s Performance Space on Tuesday 19 March 2013, to tie in with the ‘Musical Theatre’ module currently running on the BMus programme.

A broad range of solo numbers included ‘The Man I Love’ (Lady Be Good), ‘If I Loved You’ (Carousel), ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ (Guys and Dolls), ‘So Long, Dearie’ (Hello, Dolly!), ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ (The Phantom of the Opera), ‘Why, God, Why?’ (Miss Saigon), ‘There’s a Fine, Fine Line’ (Avenue Q), ‘Falling Slowly’ (Once), and ‘Left Behind’ (Spring Awakening).

Kiss Me, Kate in rehearsalThe concert also featured choruses of ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’ and ‘One Day More’ (Les Misérables) from the City University Musical Theatre Chorus, a staged version of ‘What is this Feeling’ (Wicked), and a set by the City University Big Band including ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me’ (Shall We Dance), ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ (The Wizard of Oz), and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ (We Will Rock You).

Some 60 performers were involved in the concert, which attracted a sell-out audience. Other highlights included the fully staged chorus ‘Another Op’nin’, Another Show’ (Kiss Me, Kate) to commence the event, and a choreographed ‘Cell Block Tango’ (Chicago) – featuring the City Block Tango Dancers.

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Update: A promotional video about the concert and its associated academic module, featuring interviews from the students as well as footage of lectures and of the performance itself, was released in June 2013 and may be viewed here: