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Recently Awarded Doctorates in the Music Department

The Music Department is delighted to announce that the following students have recently been awarded their PhDs.

imageSpiro Antonopoulos: “The Life and Works of Manuel Chrysaphes the Lampadarios, and the Figure of Composer in Late Byzantium” (supervisor: Alexander Lingas).

This thesis is the first full length study of the fifteenth-century composer and theorist Manuel Chrysaphes, one of the most important musicians of the late Byzantine period. It recasts the figure of composer in the Middle Ages, arguing that a cadre of self-consciously authorial composers whose compositions reflect “works” in perhaps a more modern sense was active in and around Constantinople as early as the fourteenth century.

Spiro continues to maintain an active performance schedule, singing regularly with the internationally acclaimed ensemble Cappella Romana as well as directing the Greek Institute’s annual Byzantine Christmas programme. Sipro is Director of the newly-founded vocal ensemble PSALTIKON and a researcher for Bodies and Spirits: Soundscapes of Medieval Byzantium, a multidisciplinary project led by researchers at UCLA and USC, which focuses on the interplay of sound, space, and liturgy in late medieval churches.

Mark Porter: “‘That’s not my music’: Experiences of Contemporary Worship Music in Relation to Extra-ecclesiastical Musical Attachments” (supervisor: Laudan Nooshin)

Based on ethnographic interview work at St Aldates Church, Oxford, Mark’s thesis investigates the relationship between individuals’ diverse musical backgrounds and the ways in which they experience and evaluate music in a congregational environment. Drawing, in particular, on ethical and cosmopolitan theories, he proposes new frameworks for understanding the ways in which musical diversity functions within this setting.

Mark is currently spending much of his time teaching whilst awaiting the results of numerous postdoctoral funding applications. He has recently submitted a proposal to publish his thesis in book form, a project which he hopes to complete in the near future.

Mark and Spiro were jointly awarded the 2014-15 Mercer’s Company prize for academic excellence in recognition of their outstanding work at doctoral level.

Many congratulations to them both!

‘The Saxophone’ by Stephen Cottrell receives prestigious American award

image001Stephen Cottrell’s book ‘The Saxophone’, published by Yale University Press in 2013, has been awarded the Bessaraboff Prize by the American Musical Instrument Society. The citation describes the volume as being “the book in English published in 2013 that best furthers the Society’s purpose of promoting study of the history, design, and use of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods.” The award has previously been given to a number of very distinguished scholars in the world of musical instrument scholarship, and nicely coincides with the recent bicentenary celebrations of Adolphe Sax’s birth in November 1814.

For more information on the book see:

New Book Published by Laudan Nooshin

BB240392-F5BD-46AA-B876-7615673A8C40Laudan Nooshin’s new book – ‘Iranian Classical Music: The Discourses and Practice of Creativity’ – has been published by Ashgate Press. The book is a study of creative performance in Iranian classical music and seeks to better understand creative processes in music more generally. The result of more than 20 years research, the book examines the ways in which musicians talk about creativity and analyses creative practice itself. Further details can be found here:

City Students and Staff at the Royal Musical Association Annual Research Students’ Conference

This year’s RMA Research Students’ Conference was held in the Music Department at the University of Bristol from Thursday 8th to Saturday 10th January 2015 and there was a good representation of City students and staff presenting papers.

DMA student Annie Yim presented her practice-based research on ‘Regaining a Lost Performing Tradition: The Schumann Circle and the Young Brahms’s Piano Trio Op. 8a’, including live demonstration at the piano. Another pianist and DMA student, Sasha Karpeyev, gave a paper on the Edna Iles’ ‘Medtner Collection’ at the British Library, and talked about the value of this collection and its implications for Medtner performance practice.

Two PhD students also presented papers: in ‘”Yellow Bird” and Pan: Caribbean Musical Migrations’, Rachel Hayward gave a summary of her research plotting the migration routes of the ‘Choucoune’ song family from 1957 to the present day; and Sam MacKay presented a paper entitled ‘A Shared history? North African Musical Heritage and the Public Sphere in Contemporary Marseille’.

As well as the research students, Laudan Nooshin was at the conference in her new capacity as RMA Council member. She participated in a roundtable panel on the topic of ‘Perspectives on Analysing Music and Sound’ along with other panel members: Rachel Beckles Willson (Royal Holloway), Emma Hornby (University of Bristol), Bettina Varwig (Kings College, London) and Warwick Edwards (University of Glasgow).

All of the presentations were well received and generated enthusiastic comments and questions from the audience.

Further information on the Royal Musical Association and the conference:

Ethnomusicology and the City Conference

On Saturday November 29th, the Music Department at City University London hosted the 2014 one-day conference of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, on the theme of ‘Ethnomusicology and the City’. The event was convened by Stephen Cottrell and Laudan Nooshin, and was attended by about 80 people from the UK and abroad.

The first morning session comprised papers on Berlin, Mexico City and Paris, presented by Philip Alexander (SOAS), Andrew Green (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Griffith Rollerson (University College Cork). This was followed (after the coffee break) by two papers on Smyrna and Birmingham, both covering issues related to Greek and Greek-Cypriot culture and memory of place, and presented by Eleni Kallimopoulou (University of Macedonia, Greece) and Michalis Poupazis (University College Cork).

The afternoon began with three presentations of a more applied nature: the first mapping Brazilian diasporic music in Madrid (Gabril Hoskin, Queen’s University Belfast); the second discussing research on online communities and distribution of music using Soundcloud (Byron Dueck, Open University, Daniel Allington, Open University and Anna Jordanous, University of Kent); and the third discussing the recording of Limerick’s soundscapes (Tony Langlois, University of Limerick and Aileen Dillane, University of Limerick). This was followed by a joint session on diasporic music of Tamils and Algerians in London (Steve Wilford, City University London and Jasmine Hornabrook, Goldsmiths College, University of London).

The day concluded with a roundtable session with guest speakers Richard Elliott (University of Sussex), John Drever (Goldsmiths College, University of London) and Byron Dueck (Open University), summarising the day’s events and exploring what ethnomusicology can bring to the study of music in the city.

All in all, the conference was a great way for us as students to see first-hand what sort of research, theories and discussion are happening currently within the ethnomusicology community, to meet the doers and shakers within it, and begin to forge ties and bonds with those of similar interests.

Peter Huston
MA Ethnomusicology







Careers with a Music Degree Evening

On Tuesday November 18th the Music Department, together with the City University Careers Service, hosted a music careers evening with visiting speakers from different areas of employment, including a number of our own City music alumni.

The evening started with Laura Chiplin who graduated from City in 2009 and is now a Centre Manager at the Barbican Centre. Laura talked about the kinds of experiences and skills she built up whilst an undergraduate student that prepared her for the workplace, including managing a band and taking every opportunity to get involved in organising events. She also talked about her day to day duties in her job as well as informing students about the various internships currently offered by the Barbican.

Following this, Dr Jim Harrison from the Latymer School talked about careers in school music teaching: from the practicalities of gaining initial experience and applying for teaching courses, through to information on day to day life as a secondary school music teacher. He was accompanied by Connaugh Clarke (graduated City BMus 2012) who is currently studying for a PGCE at the Institute of Education and is undertaking teaching practice at Latymer School. Connaugh  talked about his experience of the PGCE course and teaching practice so far.

The next speaker was Grace Watts from the British Association of Music Therapy who introduced the broad area of Music Therapy as well as giving information on which institutions offer Music Therapy training, and the kind of work involved in being a Music Therapist.

Sophie Ransby – another City graduate who is in charge of the gamelan education programme at the South Bank Centre – then spoke about how she had become involved in gamelan education and the kinds of skills and experiences that had been useful in gaining her current position.

The final speaker was Luke Shrewsbury, who graduated from City in 2009 after which he took an MA in Sound Design at the National Film and Television School. Luke now works as a sound designer. He talked about his transition from university to workplace and the kinds of projects that he now works on.

The evening rounded off with a general Q&A session, chaired by Alexander Lingas.

The event was attended by about 40 people including undergraduate, MA and research students.

A report on Geoff Baker’s research seminar presentation, “El sistema: orchestrating Venezuela’s youth”

Geoff-BakerIt has to be acknowledged that not every research seminar plays to a full house. So what were the prospects for a seminar on music in South America that didn’t even feature the samba, or any other “Latin American” music? Despite the prospects, Geoff Baker of Royal Holloway, University of London, captivated a packed house of over 50 students and faculty on 29 October with his talk on “El sistema: orchestrating Venezuela’s youth” (a book of the same title is imminent). This project – whose origins are in the mid-1970s – has attracted much attention internationally, partly via its flagship orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, headed by Gustavo Dudamel.

Baker is an expert in the music of South America and spent a year in Venezuela researching “The system” (well done to those who had achieved their own translation). El sistema has been lauded in the world’s press and replicated in many other countries. The Youth Orchestra has played at the Proms and at Carnegie Hall. Yet Baker’s story is primarily one of the PR exceeding the reality. Yes, thousands of children are taken and taught to play orchestral instruments in a way that is very impressive but is also harsh and authoritarian. They learn to play the instruments but without really learning music. Criticism is deflected by the hierarchy by claiming that this is primarily a social programme rather than a musical programme – yet the evidence about the social benefits is at best mixed and unclear. Baker casts doubt on the project’s claim that it uses classical music training to rescue vulnerable children. The founder and (still) head of the project – Abreu – emerges as a complex and controversial figure, whose project is shaped by his conservative religious education, economics training, and political apprenticeship.

Contributions from the floor were both numerous and very well informed. So extensive are the tentacles of El sistema that a number of people had questions and comments from personal experience. The debate was lively and could have gone on much longer that the allotted period. Chairman Pace’s calling of time did not deter the enthusiasts: they simply formed a queue in front of the speaker. Perhaps he is still there, answering questions.

— Peter Holgate

Laudan Nooshin presents invited paper at ‘Classical Music, Critical Challenges’ conference

On Friday 17th October 2014, Laudan Nooshin was invited to present a paper at the conference ‘Classical Music, Critical Challenges’, held at King’s College London. The paper was entitled ‘Classical Music and Its Others: The View from Iran’, and explored one of the central themes of the conference – how classical music’s hegemonic status is produced and maintained – focused on the reception of western classical music in Iran. The paper examined the ways in which the discourses around western classical music in Iran have served to establish and maintain the music’s prestige and authority. Laudan traced the arrival of  western classical music in Iran in the mid-19th century, through its later mobilisation as a symbol of modernity in the 1930s, and more recently how the music has come to be understood as a form of ‘universal’ expression which transcends geographical and cultural boundaries.

The conference, which was attended by about 80 people, was organised by Anna Bull (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Christina Scharff (King’s College London) and was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Georgia Rodgers on the Next Wave Project

PhD student Georgia Rodgers is profiled in a recent entry on the  NMC Recordings website highlighting her involvement in the Next Wave Project. Georgia is one of twelve composers from higher education institutions across the country to be selected for the project, which stems from a collaborative partnership between Sound and Music and NMC. The project has allowed Georgia to develop a new work for tuba and live electronics in close collaboration with tubist Oren Marshall and Sound Intermedia. The work — titled ‘partial filter’ — will be premiered at this year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and released on a dedicated Next Wave Album by NMC. An extract from the work can be found below, along with an interview with Georgia on her experiences as part of Next Wave.

PhD student Mark Porter co-edits special issue of Ecclesial Practices

35954PhD student Mark Porter has collaborated with editor and theologian Pete Ward to put together a special issue of the journal Ecclesial Practices on the theme of congregational music. Mark’s own contribution on ‘The developing field of Christian congregational music studies‘ sets out to narrate and define this emerging area of research with particular reference to the influence of ethnomusicology over the course of the late 20th/early 21st century.