Daily Archives: September 16, 2013

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.