Category Archives: External events

Dr Spyridon Antonopoulos leads Psaltikon ensemble on Scandinavian tour

Psaltikon in Copenhagen

Dr Spyridon Antonopoulos, Honorary Research Fellow at City, recently led the vocal ensemble Psaltikon on a three-concert tour in Scandinavia. Psaltikon, founded by Antonopoulos in 2010, is a Boston-based vocal ensemble specializing in Byzantine chant and the music of the Eastern Mediterranean. For this tour, Psaltikon was joined by City University Reader in Music, Dr Alexander Lingas, along with Antonopoulos and six other singers. Prior to the tour, Dr Antonopoulos and Dr Lingas each gave papers at a Symposium on Religious Poetry and Performance at Uppsala University.

The tour program, entitled “Evenings Lights in Miklagård”, refers to the Scandinavian Viking name for Constantinople, the center of the world in the ninth century, when Halfdan the Viking carved his name into the parapet of the upper floor in Hagia Sophia’s southern gallery. The program explored chants which Halfdan might have heard while he inscribed his runes into Hagia Sophia’s marble. Central to the program were two kontakia, melismatic chants (whose text was originally composed in the sixth or seventh century), inscribed in the Psaltikon, the Constantinopolitan chant book for virtuoso soloists (the complementary Asmatikon contained the choral repertories). The kontakia were transcribed from a fourteenth century by the renowned musicologist Dr Ioannis Arvanitis, while the rest of the program editions were prepared by Dr Antonopoulos.

The tour’s first venue was the famous anatomical theater of the Museum Gustavianum. The ensemble then sang a concert for an audience of over 100 at Sofia Kyrka in Stockholm, before embarking on a five hour train through the Swedish woodlands to Copenhagen, where they were treated to a tour of the collections at the Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae, led by Dr Christian Troeslgård.

 

The MMB, founded in the 1930s at the University of Copenhagen, is one of the most important research institutes for Byzantine musicology. The tour closed with a concert in the beautiful acoustic of St. Thomas in the Frederiksburg neighborhood of Copenhagen.

City University Chamber Orchestra Summer Term Concert

by Carlota Rodriguez Ruiz-Healy, MA Music Student

The City University Chamber Orchestra gave its final concert of the year on May 19th, kicking off the City Summer Sounds festival, a three-week music festival in the Music Department at City, University of London.

Conducted by Tim Hooper, the orchestra performed at the atmospheric St. Clements Church, close to the university. The concert featured Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5, Charles Gounod’s Petite Symphonie and Edward Elgar’s Chanson de Nuit and Chanson de Matin, Op. 15, No. 1 and 2. 

These works exhibited the versatile talent of City’s Music students. The Schubert, which began the concert, was played by the entire orchestra and gave an invigorating start to the evening. This was followed by the Gounod, a lovely work which showcased the orchestra’s wind players. The evening concluded with the orchestra re-joining to play two beautiful short pieces by Elgar, featuring Andrew Losq on piano. A great way to start our Summer Sounds Festival!

Laudan Nooshin Presents Keynote at Film Music Conference

On Friday 16th May, Dr Laudan Nooshin presented a keynote address at the conference ‘Exoticism in Contemporary Transnational Cinema: Music and Spectacle’, hosted by the Humanities and Arts Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Laudan’s keynote was entitled ‘Windows onto Other Worlds. Musical Exoticism in Iranian Cinema: Between National Imaginary and Global Circulation’ and explored the role of music in exoticising processes of constructing and representing otherness in Iranian films, focusing on the earliest Persian-language sound film, The Lor Girl, made in Bombay in 1933 and selected films from the period following the 1979 Revolution. The conference brought together a range of speakers from film studies, ethnomusicology and area studies, each dealing with different aspects of music and exoticism in transnational cinema.

Cappella Romana, the vocal ensemble founded and directed by City Reader in Music Alexander Lingas, offered the first North American festival dedicated to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt between 5 and 12 February, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, USA.  Dr Lingas himself presented a lecture and directed four events, two of which featured instrumentalists of Portland’s Third Angle New Music ensemble: ‘Odes of Repentance’, a programme of a cappella sacred works; the   Passio Domini nostril Jesu Christi secundum Ioannem by candlelight (with the participation of the choir of Lewis and Clark College); the Missa Syllabica sung within the context of a Roman Catholic mass; and a gala finale concert at Reed College featuring Pärt’s Te Deum alongside works by Sir James MacMillan, the late Sir John Tavener, and Thanos Mikroutsikos. The full programme book including essays by Dr Lingas is available here: http://www.cappellaromana.org/apfbook/

Many of the concerts were sold out and the festival generated considerable interest in the media. Here is a review from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/arvo-pärt-festival-in-portland-oregon-exceeds-expectations_us_58a7712fe4b026a89a7a2ae2

‘Innovative and Thought-Provoking’: Russian Chant with the Seattle Symphony and Cappella Romana

Dr Alexander Lingas of City and the men of the American-based vocal ensemble Cappella Romana recently completed an innovative collaboration with the Seattle Symphony that highlighted the roots of Sergei Rachmaninov’s orchestral music in the sound world of Russian liturgical chant. For three successive days, Dr Lingas led the singers both in pre-concert lecture-demonstrations of Russian sacred music and in two short vocal works sung immediately before splendid performances of Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto and Second Symphony directed by SSO Principal Guest Conductor Thomas Dausgaard. The concerts were hailed by audiences and critics, with the Seattle Times describing the participation of Cappella Romana as ‘highly atmospheric’ and ‘an innovative and thought-provoking entry into Rachmaninov’s musical world’. Full reviews are available here:

http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/classical-music/review-seattle-symphony-and-audience-show-rachmaninov-the-love/

http://www.cityartsonline.com/articles/breathtaking-performances-dausgaard-and-melnikov

During this busy weekend Cappella Romana also presented performances in Seattle (at St James Roman Catholic Cathedral) and Portland, Oregon (at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral) of a full-length concert tracing ‘The Russian Chant Revival’ of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Full programme notes are available here:

http://www.cappellaromana.org/the-russian-chant-revival/

A video of Dr Lingas’s informal talk before the Portland concert is here:

#RussianChantRevival pre-concert lecture in #PDX

Posted by Cappella Romana on Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ian Pace – Interactive Workshop on Musical Denazification and the Cold War at LSE Conference, March 28, 2017

Ian Pace, Head of Performance and Music Lecturer at City, whose research focuses on modernist music and musical life during the Third Reich and the Cold War, will be giving a workshop on ‘Music, Identity and Nationalism with Reference to the Third Reich and early Cold War Period’, at the ASEN Conference on Anthony D. Smith & The Future of Nationalism: Ethnicity, Religion and Culture’, taking place at the London School of Economics. The conference takes place on March 27-28, 2017, and Ian’s workshop will take place from 11:40-13:10 on the 28th. Places are still available for the conference; full details, and a programme for the conference can be found at https://asen.ac.uk/conference-2017/ .

The purpose of this workshop is to engage with the issues of nationalism as affected German musicians and those working in the music world, through interactive roleplay relating to denazification procedures in each of the four zones of occupied Germany – American, British, French and Soviet.

Fragebogen zur Entnazifizierung (1946)

A series of four ‘legends’ have been created, each relating to a real individual; two composers, one pianist and composer, and one music journalist and writer. Each faced denazification in different zones. Participants are invited to take the role of one of these legends in a mock denazification hearing, which will be directed by Ian Pace in the role of Chief Interrogator. He will question the participant on the nature of their activities during the Third Reich, including questions relating to the aesthetics of their work, and they are offered the chance to reply and defend their record. Others are invited to take role in the ‘defence’ or ‘prosecution’ team, interspersing comments where appropriate relating to the case in question. These requires only study of the legends themselves (those who wish to join the prosecution will be provided with a little extra information unknown to the individual being interrogated).

If time permits, the final half hour of the workshop will be devoted to a wider discussion directed by Ian Pace about wider cultural/political agendas relating to the Cold War in Europe on both sides of the Iron Curtain, as relate to music and nationalism. Some questions to be considered include whether supposedly ‘internationalist’ aesthetic agendas might be viewed in terms of a type of ‘Western European pan-nationalism’ (which has also informed culture in the EEC/EU) or conversely these are less solidly geographically rooted. Another is how in the Eastern Bloc, musical traditions with historical connections to those found elsewhere in Europe and further afield were modified in accordance with the dominant role of the Soviet Union and Russian musical traditions, not least in light of the expulsion of ethnic Germans from most of Eastern Europe.

 

Introductory Bibliography

Biddiscombe, Perry. The Denazification of Germany: A History 1945-1950. Stroud: Tempus, 2007.

Chamberlin, Brewster S. Kultur auf Trümmern. Berliner Berichte der amerikanischen Information Control Section July – Dezember 1945. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1979.

Clemens, Gabriele, ed. Kulturpolitik im besetzten Deutschland 1945-1949. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1994

Clemens, Gabriele. Britische Kulturpolitik in Deutschland 1945-1949: Literatur, Film, Musik und Theater. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1997.

Heister, Hanns-Werner and Klein, Hans-Günter, eds, Musik und Musikpolitik im faschistischen Deutschland. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1984.

Janik, Elizabeth. Recomposing German Music: Politics and Tradition in Cold War Berlin. Leiden, Brill & Biggleswade: Extenza Turpin, 2005.

John, Eckhard. Musik-Bolschewismus. Die Politisierung der Musik in Deutschland 1918-1938. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1994.

Kater, Michael. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and their Music in the Third Reich. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Kater, Michael. Composers of the Nazi Era: Eight Portraits. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Linsenmann, Andreas. Musik als politischer Faktor: Konzepte, Intention und Praxis französischer Umerziehungs- und Kulturpolitik in Deutschland 1945-1949/50. Tübingen: Narr, 2010.

Monod, David. Settling Scores: German Music, Denazification, and the Americans, 1945-1953. Chapel Hill, NC and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

Pike, David. The Politics of Culture in Soviet-Occupied Germany, 1945-1949. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992.

Prieberg, Fred. Handbuch Deutsche Musiker 1933-1945. CD-ROM, 2004, revised version 2009.

Riehtmüller, Albrecht, ed. Deutsche Leitkultur Musik? : zur Musikgeschichte nach dem Holocaust. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2006).

Scherliess, Volker, ed. »Stunde Null«. Zur Musik um 1945. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2014.

Steinweis, Alan E. Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

Thacker, Toby. Music after Hitler, 1945-1955. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.

 

City Research Presented at the joint RMA/BFE Annual Research Students’ Conference

Three of the Music Department’s PhD candidates presented papers earlier this month at the joint Royal Musical Association/British Forum for Ethnomusicology annual conference for research students. The conference took place over three days at Canterbury Christ Church University, and had as its theme ‘Exploring Musical Practice’.

Contributions from City students spanned a broad range of specialisms, from composition and the study of film music to ethnographic research on music scenes. Elizabeth Black discussed her approach to conceptualising texture in instrumental composition, with particular attention to the work of Panayiotis Kokoras and his notion of holophony. Roya Arab traced a history of the female voice in Iranian film music, noting its complex and shifting relationships to ideas of permissibility and representation. And Sam Mackay examined the interface of musical culture and gentrification in a central neighbourhood of Marseille, arguing that the particular sonic and spatial mediations of public music-making can generate both solidarities and fantasies in a context of contested social change.

Sam MacKay, PhD Student

Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum

This autumn, the Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum was held in a new, and fitting, location – the music department at SOAS. On Monday 7th November, we were treated to a full day of papers covering a fascinating range of topics, as well as some fantastic live performances. Thematically, the research presented tackled a wide range of ethnomusicological issues. Several papers dealt with the intersection of music and various contemporary political issues affecting the region, whereas others focussed directly on musical content itself, including improvisation, modes and recording techniques. Others still looked to the past; we were treated to some fascinating historical insights, and even listened to a band take itself back in time!

Geographically, we began in Morocco, the most westerly country featured at the conference. The first speaker, Cristina Morena Almeida (King’s College, London), woke us up with her opening presentation, entitled ‘“Sell Everything except yourself”: understanding the backlash against rappers’ involvement in organised political campaigns’. Cristina’s thought-provoking work was followed by Ilana Webster-Kogen’s (SOAS) fascinating account of the music of Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants across the Middle East, which provided a great insight into her ethnographic work in Israel and the Arabian Gulf.

After the break, co-convenor Laudan Nooshin (City) posed much food for thought with her paper entitled ‘Whose liberation? Iranian popular music and the fetishisation of resistance’. After a lively and fruitful discussion, we were treated to a roundtable with the Oxford Maqam ensemble, featuring Martin Stokes, Yara Abou-El-Fadi and Tarik Bashir. The ensemble has recently undertaken a fascinating wax cylinder recording project; it was hard to tell the difference between recordings dating from the 1900s and their recent output! After discussing the technical and contextual aspects of their work, they played one of their recorded songs live for us; a surreal comparison.

Unfortunately, Julian Harris (King’s College, London) was unwell and unable to attend. Julian’s paper was entitled “Ta’abiriya: ‘expressionism’ in Arab music: composition in the Iraqi school of ‘oud”, and happily for the audience, Professor Owen Wright (SOAS) kindly offered an impromptu talk on the topic. Continuing with the ‘oud theme, Baha Yetkin then presented his work, entitled “Ottoman-Turkish improvisation on the Turkish-style ‘oud”. Baha deftly demonstrated the music he analysed in his paper on his ‘oud, which was highly educational for those not as well versed in Turkish music theory.

After an afternoon break for tea and coffee, John O’Connell (Cardiff University) discussed issues pertaining to Turkish nationalism in the early 20th Century, and enlightened us about the mystical, imagined land of ‘Turan’. To round off the papers, Erum Naqvi’s (Pratt Institute, New York) examination of Iranian classical concerts in the past and present both complemented and contrasted with Laudan’s earlier presentation.

After a fascinating day filled with information and discussions, many of us went straight down to the SOAS union to grab a well-deserved drink, before returning for a performance by Maya Youssef’s Middle East Ensemble, based at SOAS. For the best part of an hour, her deft qanun playing mesmerised and moved us. She was accompanied by darbuka, violin and vocals, playing a mixture of her own original compositions and classics from across the Arab world, including the music of Lebanese singer Fairuz and Syrian-Egyptian ‘oud player and composer Farid al-Atrash.

Thank you to all our speakers, performers and audience members for attending and contributing; additional thanks to Rachel Harris for organising and chairing.

Gabrielle Messeder, PhD Music Student

Oxford Maqam Ensemble

Oxford Maqam Ensemble

Maya Youssef and the SOAS Middle Eastern Ensemble

Maya Youssef and the SOAS Middle Eastern Ensemble

City University Chamber Choir Concert at St Clement’s Church

On Wednesday 7th December, the City University Chamber Choir presented their annual Christmas Concert at St Clement’s Church, Finsbury. The combination of classical repertoire and some Christmas carol favourites created a varied and truly beautiful programme which was a joy to sing and listen to. Pieces by Gardner, Rutter and Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ with traditional carols such as ‘The Holly and the Ivy’, among others, filled the church with festive energy and the audience joined in for the singing of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, which truly brought the Christmas spirit to the occasion. 

Led by Tim Hooper, the choir meets every Wednesday evening during terms one and two, and his leadership and guidance are invaluable to us. He always chooses fantastic pieces to perform, and the next concert will be before the Easter break.

Emilie Parry-Williams, BMus Year 2

img_5046

img_5054

Ian Pace concerts in London, Oxford, Leuven, Prague, Basel, Lisbon, Autumn 2016 – and with City graduate Ben Smith

Department of Music Lecturer and Head of Performance Ian Pace has an active concert schedule over the course of Autumn 2016. A key focus of this is his ongoing series of recitals of the complete piano works of Michael Finnissy, to celebrate the composer’s 70th birthday year. He gave the fifth concert in the series at City on September 27th, featuring Finnissy’s complete Gershwin Arrangements and also his two Concertos for Solo Piano, one of which (No. 4 of his Piano Concertos in general) is a work of maniac virtuosity, of which Ian’s 1998 recording has previously won much acclaim. The next concert in the series takes place on Thursday October 27th, at the Picture Gallery, Egham, as part of Royal Holloway’s Finnissy at 70 Series, and will feature a range of highly diverse pieces including Kemp’s Morris, for pianist wearing Morris bells, Finnissy’s three transcriptions of Strauss-Walzer, his Hiroshige-inspired White Rain, the dance/quasi-improvisatory virtuoso work Free Setting. Further concerts in the series will take place at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, on November 7th, and 21st, at Deptford Town Hall, in association with Goldsmith’s College, on December 1st, featuring the composer’s large cycle of Verdi Transcriptions, then as part of a two-day Finnissy event on January 19th-20th at City University, to include a complete performance of Finnissy’s five-and-a-half-hour piano work The History of Photography in Sound, which Ian premiered and subsequently recorded, and about which he has written a monographFull details of all of this landmark concert series can be read here.

finnissy-section-from-kemps-morrisMichael Finnissy, from Kemp’s Morris (1978)

 

Ian is also giving a recital at the TRANSIT festival, Leuven, on Saturday October 29th, where he has performed regularly since the inception of the festival in 2000. This concert serves in part as a tribute to the Belgian composer Luc Brewaeys, who died tragically early in 2015, and was close both to Ian and the other composers featured in the concert. The programme features posthumous world premiere of Brewaeys’ The Dale of Tranquillity, as well as new commissions from the British composer Lauren Redhead (her piece called simply For Luc Brewaeys), and Portuguese composer Patrícia de Almeida (Vacuum Corporis, for two pianos and film), as well as a repeat performance of Finnissy’s Beethoven’s Robin Adair, premiered by Ian earlier in 2016 in the York Late Music Series as a co-commission, and Brian Ferneyhough’s Quirl (2013). For the Almeida work, Ian will be joined by Ben Smith, who graduated from City’s BMus programme in 2015, having won several prizes during his study there, and with whom Ian will be recording Ferneyhough’s Sonata for Two Pianos later in the autumn. Ben is currently studying on the Master’s Programme at the Guildhall School.

luc-brewaeys

Luc Brewaeys (1959-2015)

 

The following week, on November 4th and 5th, Ian will be giving a series of special performances together with the Russian pianist Mikhail Rudy for the Foundation Beyeler in Basel of Alexander Scriabin’s Prometheus in a version for two pianos by Leonid Sabaneev, together with a special light installation entitled White Point, to accompany an exhibition of the work of Der Blaue Reiter

On Tuesday November 15th, Ian will be giving a recital for the Contempuls series in Prague, featuring music of Finnissy, Horatiu Radulescu (with whom Ian worked closely, and whose last work, the Sonata No. 6 (2007) was written for him), and new premieres by Czech composer Luboš Mrkvička. He will also be giving a recital at the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (Lisbon) on Wednesday November 23rd, with music of Radulescu, Finnissy, Ivan Moody and Patrícia de Almeida, as part of the conference Old is New: The Presence of the Past in the Music of the Presentin which he will also be giving a keynote paper on practice-as-research, drawing upon his own work, on Friday November 25th, and participating in a roundtable. 

He has also recently given a paper on ‘Between Academia and Audiences: Some Critical Reflections from a Performer-Scholar’, at the RMA Conference in London in September, and a paper on ‘Ideological Constructions of ‘Experimental Music’ and Anglo-American Nationalism in the Historiography of post-1945 Music’ at City University in October, a revised version of a paper given previously in Coventry and Glasgow.