On Saturday 8th March, City University London emerged victorious in the annual Battle of the Big Bands competition. The competition sees some of the best university big bands in London face off against one another. City’s Big Band, founded by music students in 2010, bested the competition with their varied programme, excellent musicianship and energetic performance. They came out ahead of big bands from other London institutions, including Royal Holloway, Kings College London, and Surrey University.
City’s set consisted of a bold mix of contemporary and classic big band repertoire featuring jazz standards ‘Too Close For Comfort’, ‘Body And Soul’ and ‘Witchcraft’ (Arranged by Gordon Goodwin, Bob Florence and Tom Kubis, respectively), ‘Samba Del Gringo’ (A Goodwin original) and a suite of Michael Giacchino’s music from the film ‘The Incredibles’ (Arranged by the band’s own Andy Allen). Highlights included strong solo performances by Ben Smith on piano, Bertie Atkinson on drums, Amy Hollinrake on vocals and the ever-charismatic Nico Seal as the band’s MC.
City University Big Band, currently in it’s fourth year, is open to staff and students, past and present from all departments of the University. With a series of concerts already lined up for the summer and a large selection of exciting new music, the future is looking bright.
Professor John Rink’s lecture recital, ‘Chopin’s Afterthoughts’, recently given in the Performance Space at City, proved not only to be a fascinating insight into the world of Chopin, but also brought to light many issues relevant to any performer dealing with historical sources.
As the world of performance continues to develop we must consider more than ever the role of performer within music reception – are we to remain a vehicle in replicating the intentions of the composer as closely as possible, or should we allow more creative, even improvisational sway in our interpretations? It was within this wider debate that Rink situated his talk. Though a series of case studies, various interpretive problems were put forth, based on incongruities between different early editions of Chopin’s music.
Known for never having ‘played his own compositions twice alike’, Chopin seemingly changed his mind on portions of several works post-publication. The upshot of this for Rink is that considering any particular Urtext edition as the ‘right’ one is not only ill-informed, but also jarring with Chopin’s compositional aesthetic.
And so, through examination of the editions, and demonstration at the piano, Rink showed how a mixing of various sources, and even (carefully considered) original improvisation around the score may be regarded as perfectly in tune with Chopin’s compositional approach. As it was put towards the end of the talk, ‘in abandoning fidelity to the letter, we capture it in spirit’.
The Department of Music is happy to be supporting a major event organised by the London Contemporary Music Festival, themed around the music of Bernard Parmegiani.
The Department enjoys close ties with the festival via the involvement of several of its staff and students: among the performers are Professor Emeritus Denis Smalley, lecturer Diana Salazar, and former PhD students Peiman Khosravi and Ambrose Seddon. The festival is co-directed by PhD student Sam Mackay, and the acoustic consultant is PhD student Georgia Rodgers. As with the inaugural edition of LCMF in 2013, the Department is making available some of its cutting edge sound equipment.
The upcoming series marks the UK’s first major retrospective of the music of Bernard Parmegiani, the legendary French electro-acoustic composer who died in November 2013. For this series LCMF takes over a 20,000 sq ft former carpet factory near Brick Lane.
Parmegiani’s rich body of work, spanning nearly 50 years, stands as among the most important in electronic music, influencing generations of artists within the academy and beyond. Colleagues from the renowned Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) will be among those diffusing his music, rendering it in vivid sonic detail and demonstrating what Parmegiani meant when he said sound was “like a living being”. Alongside his acclaimed acousmatic pieces such as ‘La Création du Monde’ and ‘Dedans dehors’, the three-day series features guest performances from artists touched by Parmegiani’s broad influence, including Florian Hecker, Rashad Becker, and Vessel.
20 -23 March: The Music of Bernard Parmegiani
Britannia House, 68-80 Hanbury Street , E1 5JL http://lcmf.co.uk/