Monthly Archives: September 2013

Release of Ian Pace’s 5-CD Set of Michael Finnissy’s The History of Photography in Sound on October 10

On October 10th will be released the five-CD set of Michael Finnissy’s epic piano cycle The History of Photography in Sound in Divine Art Recordings. The CDs are available to be ordered immediately – see the page on Divine Art’s website here. The release is sponsored by City University.

Ian Pace has had a special association with Finnissy’s music for over 20 years. In 1996, to celebrate the composer’s birthday, he performed a landmark six-concert recital series of his complete piano works, and went on in 2001 to give the first complete performance of The History in Photography in Sound in the Royal Academy of Music, London, having already premiered several chapters of the work on earlier dates. He went on to perform the complete cycle in Leuven, Glasgow, Montréal and Southampton, and will perform it complete again on Sunday February 23rd, 2014 in the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

He has also written extensively on Finnissy’s work, as co-editor and a major contributor to the volume Uncommon Ground: The Music of Michael Finnissy, which was published by Ashgate in 1998. From 2003 to 2006 he was an AHRC Creative and Performing Arts Research Fellow at the University of Southampton (where Finnissy is Professor of Composition), and wrote an extensive monograph on the History, which informs the 100-page essay included with the CDs, and a broader 200-page study of the work which will appear on Divine Art and City University’s websites in October 2013. The complete monograph will be edited for publication in 2014-2015.

A launch event for the CD will take place at City University, Performance Space, College Building, on Tuesday November 5th, beginning at 6:30pm.

Major Performances from Ian Pace during Summer 2013

Following appearances earlier in the year in the UK, France, Germany, Austria, and Portugal, Ian Pace gave a series of important concerts during the Summer of 2013. First of these was a recital at the York Late Music Festival on August 3rd, dedicated to the 75th birthday of American composer Frederic Rzewski, with whom Ian has worked extensively in the past and from whom he has premiered several works. This concert included the world premiere of his new piano work Illusions perdues as part of the first complete performance of the cycle Dreams, as well as the world premiere of Rzewski’s Four Hands, given by Ian and the composer. The concert also featured new commissions from Jake Wilson, James Whittle, and Sadie Harrison. A review of the concert can be read here, and a video of the performance of the Whittle can be viewed here.

In September Ian was resident pianist and director of the piano classes at the Akademie für Neue Musik in Munich, where he gave a major recital on the 12th featuring music of Pascal Dusapin, Marco Stroppa, Michael Jarrell and Wolfgang Rihm. And on September 20th, he gave a recital in Florence, as part of the Firenze Suona Contemporanea, featuring music of Brian Ferneyhough, Fabricio Filidei, Patrícia Sucena Almeida (the premiere of the new version of her Reditus ad Vitam, which Ian premiered in Coimbra in January 2013, now together with film), Lauren Redhead, Jarrell and Beat Furrer. A review by Lauren Redhead of the concert can be read here.

On Friday October 11th Ian will be giving a concert of operatic transcriptions by Liszt, Thalberg, Tausig, Busoni, Grainger, Gershwin, Earl Wild and Michael Finnissy. Full details can be found here.

 Ian’s personal website (new and currently still in the process of being updated) is here and his personal blog, ‘Desiring Progress’, is here.

Department of Music sponsors first edition of the London Contemporary Music Festival

City’s Department of Music was happy to sponsor the first edition of the London Contemporary Music Festival, which took place from 25th July – 4th August at Peckham multi-storey car park. The festival featured performances from an array of artists including Glenn Branca, Tony Conrad, Jane Chapman, SND, Leon Michener, Max Baillie, and many others.

Current MA student Sam Mackay was co-director of the festival, and recent PhD graduates Peiman Khosravi and Erik Nyström were the audio engineers for most of the events. Both were also involved as performers: Peiman Khosravi performed Bernard Parmegiani’s ‘De Natura Sonorum’ and the tape part for his piece ‘Violostres’; Erik Nystrom performed his own 2012 piece ‘Catabolisms’. Finally, another recent PhD graduate, Ambrose Seddon, gave the world premiere of his piece ‘Secure’, inspired by the sounds of the womb.

The festival was the brainchild of four young contemporary music enthusiasts with a shared desire to bring new classical music to dynamic, appropriated spaces. At the same time, it was crucial to mobilise the best talent the scene had to offer, even booking iconic artists based abroad such as Charlemagne Palestine and Tony Conrad. Discussing the festival’s ambitious approach in The Daily Telegraph, critic Ivan Hewett said the following:

“This determination to seize the moment and “kiss the joy as it flies”, is exciting. One feels the tremor of something that touches on real cultural energies, which is at least as valuable as any purely musical experience the event might offer. Everything has happened at top speed; the tickets mostly melted away within a few days of the festival’s announcement… All this has happened in joyous defiance of the accepted way of launching an arts festival”

A controversial debate was sparked following the festival’s climax, a sprawling 90 minute piano recital by Mark Knoop which culminated in a performance of Philip Corner’s Piano Activities. The piece, which calls for the destruction of the piano, was described by The Guardian as ‘morally dubious’ and ‘creatively redundant’, charges which were fiercely debated by a number of musicians and critics in the subsequent days.

Ben Schoeman wins the Contemporary Music Prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition and performs at Festivals in Edinburgh and Bucharest

DMA student Ben Schoeman has been awarded the prize for the best rendition of a contemporary work at the prestigious Cleveland International Piano Competition in Ohio, USA. Schoeman performed the Toccata for John Roos by the South African composer Surendran Reddy (1962-2010). This Toccata includes several elements of South African jazz and mbaqanga dance music and is a highly virtuosic work. Schoeman was one of 28 selected participants who took part in the event. He was praised in Cleveland Classical by critic Daniel Hathaway, who wrote the following:

South African pianist Ben Schoeman brought the session to an end with Bach and Haydn that felt completely right. His reading of the Toccata, BWV 911 was dramatic in concept, full in tone, his playing virtuosic where it was meant to sound improvisatory and clear and neat when counterpoint was involved. Schoeman responded to Haydn’s delightful C major Sonata (Hob. XVI:50) with elegantly cheerful playing full of character and contrast and festooned with pearly passagework. South African composer Surendran Reddy’s Toccata for John Roos was pure dessert: jazzy, bluesy, caffeinated and just bordering on the pianistically trashy, Schoeman played it with amused glee.

After his success at the Cleveland Competition, Schoeman went on to give six recitals at the Royal Over-Seas League Concert Series that forms part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. He also travelled to Bucharest to perform Liszt’s Piano Concerto no. 1 at the George Enescu International Festival, where he collaborated with conductor Vlad Vizireanu, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Camerata of Romania.

Mr. Schoeman has also recently been named a ‘Steinway Artist’. His name appears on an international roster of artists, including musicians such as Vladimir Horowitz, Martha Argerich, Radu Lupu as well as Schoeman’s teacher at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Prof. Ronan O’Hora.

Schoeman is currently completing his doctoral thesis on South African composer Stefans Grové’s piano music under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Wiley.

Book Publication by Centre for Music Studies PhD Graduate Dr Laura Seddon

Dr Laura Seddon, who completed her PhD in the Centre for Music Studies in 2011 under the supervision of Professor Rhian Samuel, has published a monograph based on her doctoral thesis with Ashgate Press.

Entitled British Women Composers and Instrumental Chamber Music in the Early Twentieth Century, Dr Seddon’s book is available to order from at the following link: All online orders receive a discount.

The flier for the book may be downloaded here. The publishers details are as follows:

This is the first full-length study of British women’s instrumental chamber music in the early twentieth century. Laura Seddon argues that the Cobbett competitions, instigated by Walter Willson Cobbett in 1905, and the formation of the Society of Women Musicians in 1911 contributed to the explosion of instrumental music written by women in this period and highlighted women’s place in British musical society in the years leading up to and during the First World War. Seddon investigates the relationship between Cobbett, the Society of Women Musicians and women composers themselves.

The book’s six case studies – of Adela Maddison (1866–1929), Ethel Smyth (1858–1944), Morfydd Owen (1891–1918), Ethel Barns (1880–1948), Alice Verne-Bredt (1868–1958) and Susan Spain-Dunk (1880–1962) – offer valuable insight into the women’s musical education and compositional careers. Seddon’s discussion of their chamber works for differing instrumental combinations includes an exploration of formal procedures, an issue much discussed by contemporary sources. 


MA Composer Wins Jerry Goldsmith Award

MA Composing for Moving Images student Nico Casal Ares has won a prestigious  Jerry Goldsmith award in the ‘promotional film’ category. The competition aimed at young film composers is in its 8th year and is part of the Festival Internacional de Musica de Cine (International Film Music Festival) held in Cordoba, Spain. Nico’s award-winning score for the MAC Museum of Contemporary Art can be seen here.

The winners and nominees pictured at the award ceremony in Cordoba, Spain (Nico is second from the left back row).