Category Archives: External events

Georgia Rodgers wins Oram Award

Georgia Rodgers has been named as one of five winners of the 2018 Oram Award.

The award build on the legacy of Daphne Oram — one of the founding members of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Oram played a vital role in establishing women at the forefront of innovation in newly emerging audio technologies in the UK and around the world.
Georgia comments:
I’m really pleased to have been selected as one of five winners of this year’s award, which celebrates innovation in music, sound and technology by women. The award is named after composer and founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Daphne Oram. Oram has always been a hero of mine so I’m proud to receive an award in her name and looking forward to hearing a rare performance of her piece Still Point for Orchestra + electronics (1949) at Prom 13 on Monday 23rd July.

Thanks to everyone involved in organising the awards and to everyone who has supported me in getting to this point. I’m looking forward to meeting members of the New BBC Radiophonic Workshop and continuing to develop my music for acoustic instruments and electronics.

The awards were presented at a ceremony at Blue Dot Festival in Jodrell Bank, on Friday 20th July.

City Chamber Choir Trip to Paris, April 2018

Members of the Music Department Chamber Choir travelled to Paris earlier this month for a collaborative performance on Tuesday April 10th of the Brahms Requiem with the choir and orchestra of Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) at the beautiful church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont close to the Sorbonne.

The collaboration was facilitated by Dr Alice Mesnard (from City’s Economics Department) and the concert was part of the Paris Sciences & Lettres spring music festival.

The concert was a great experience for everyone involved and a good opportunity to meet and make friends with the French student performers. We look forward to further collaborations and are hoping to invite them over to London next year.

The preceding Friday, 6th April, the whole Chamber Choir performed the Brahms in the beautiful setting of St Giles Cripplegate, in the Barbican, conducted by Tim Hooper and with Ian Pace and Ben Smith accompanying with the piano duet version. The soprano solo was performed by 3rd year BMus student, Emilie Parry-Williams.

Both concerts were a great success. Many congratulations to Chamber Choir and thanks to Tim for all his dedicated work with the choir this year!

In rehearsal

Celebrating afterwards

 

 

 

Five Forgotten Female Composers Celebrated in Concert at LSO St Luke’s

The work of Visiting Research Fellow Graham Griffiths was featured at a wonderful concert at LSO St Luke’s on Thursday March 8th to mark International Women’s Day.

The concert was part of the AHRC/BBC project ‘Five Forgotten Female Composers’ and included the first performance in over 120 years of the Symphony in b minor, op.4 by Russian composer Leokadiya Kashperova (1872-1940), a performance only made possible through Dr Griffiths’ research.

The other composers whose work featured were:

  • Marianna Martines (1744-1813), an Austrian who enjoyed fame throughout Europe in her lifetime
  • Florence B. Price (1887-1953), an estemeed African American Symphonist
  • Augusta Holmès (1847-1903), a French-Irish Writer of largescale oratorios and operas
  • Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868-1941), an Austrian whose works range from chamber music to orchestral tone-poems and oratorios

The concert was performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and conducted by Jane Glover.

Leokadiya Kashperova, born in 1872, was a Russian pianist and tutor who wrote Romantic songs and instrumental music. After marrying a revolutionary with links to Lenin, she was forced to leave her home city during the 1917 Russian Revolution and her music was never published or performed again. She died in 1940.

Dr Griffiths has been studying Kashperova since 2002, when her name appeared during his research for the book, Stravinsky’s Piano: Genesis of a Musical Language. He found that she was the piano teacher of the great Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, but little else was known about her life.

As part of his research, Dr Griffiths, embarked on several trips to St Petersburg and Moscow, during which he uncovered the composer’s biography and her lost compositions, including a symphony, which was completed in 1905.

He said: “One of the great thrills of my most recent visit to Moscow was the discovery of many musical manuscripts – not sketches, but complete works ready, as it were, for publication and performance. Kashperova herself never heard them except in her head”.

The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and can be heard on iplayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e8ncd4

Find out more: https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2018/march/leokadiya-kashperova-bbc-radio-3-forgotten-female-composers

 

African Dance and Drumming Ensemble at the London Marathon

City University Music Department’s African Dance and Drumming ensemble performed at the London Marathon on Sunday 22nd April 2018, under the leadership of Barak Schmool.

The ensemble performed at the north end of Southwark Bridge from 11.30am to 4pm, to encourage the runners and entertain the crowd.

This is the 6th year that the ensemble has done this, joining other students from BIMM, TrinityLaban, the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall and Middlesex University, as well as City music Alumni, to form a samba bateria (percussion section) of some 60 players accompanying vocals and guitars in a wide repertoire of carnival style music from Brazil and elsewhere.

A Riot in Helsingborg

Two members of the City Music department recently travelled to Sweden for world premieres of new works commissioned by the London based Riot Ensemble.

PhD student Georgia Rodgers and Senior Lecturer Dr. Aaron Einbond were selected to take part in the project during the Riot Ensemble’s 2017 Call for Scores, which received nearly 300 applications. An open workshop with the ensemble followed in September 2017, taking place at London’s Southbank as part of the Nordic Music Daysfestival. Six composers took part in total – Aaron, Georgia and Donghoon Shin based in the U.K, and Ansgar Beste, Marcella Lucatelli and Asta Hyvärinen from Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Each composer then had around six months to complete their new piece before meeting in Helsingborg, Sweden, for a concert of premieres by the Riot Ensemble, given as part of the Swedish Society of Composer’s centenary celebrations (#FST100) on 14thApril.

The concert was really successful and Aaron and Georgia’s pieces were very well received. Georgia’s pieceMaeshoweis based on the resonant frequencies of an ancient site on Orkney. The instruments approximate these ‘room modes’ in various ways, and are overlaid with sine tones at the exact frequencies. Aaron’s piece Kate Frankensteinlooked into his family’s history, using video projection, live and pre-recorded sound to explore the story of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to work with the brilliant Riot Ensemble, who were: Ausiàs Garrigos (clarinet), Andy Connington (trombone), David Royo (percussion), Fontane Liang (harp), Neil Georgeson (piano), Louise McMonagle (cello) and Aaron Holloway-Nahum (director). We thank them very much and hope to collaborate with them again in future, and with our new Scandinavian friends!

—Georgia Rodgers

 

City Music Alumni Evening at the London Coliseum

The Music Department’s annual alumni reception took place on the evening of Monday 5th March 2018 at the London Coliseum (English National Opera). It was attended by about 60 City music alumni, final year students, and music staff, including several visiting lecturers and instrumental teachers. 

The evening began with a fascinating historical tour of The Coliseum, including the auditorium, which was being set up for the forthcoming season of La Traviata.

The Head of Department, Dr Laudan Nooshin, then welcomed everyone, following which three of our female alumni spoke, to mark the coinciding of the event with International Women’s Week and to celebrate the many achievements of our female alumni. The speakers were: Karen Mason (Music, 1988) Managing Director at Novalex, Laura Selby (Music, 2015) Studio Manager at Brains and Hunch and Fiona Baldwin Tanner (Music 1998) Director Founder of Oyster Opera.

We were then treated to performances by alumni and current students: Annie Yim (DMA alumna and the Minerva Trio with Michal Cwizewicz on violin and Richard Birchall on ‘cello); Ben Schoeman (piano, DMA alumnus); Sasha Karpeyev (piano, DMA alumnus); and Emilie Parry-Williams (voice, 3rd year BMus). Appropriately for International Women’s Week, the performances included a movement from Clara Schumann’s piano trio.

A very enjoyable evening and a great way to stay in touch. You can see more photos on the City Alumni Facebook page.

Laura Selby

Karen Mason

Fiona Baldwin Tanner

Department Trip to Opera Exhibition at the V&A

On Friday 16th February 2018, a group of City Music students and staff visited the exhibition ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington.

The exhibition explored the history of opera from its birth in 17th-Century Venice to the present-day through a series of key cities, dates, composers and operas – for instance Venice, 1642, Monteverdi, L’Incoronazione di Poppea; London, 1711, Handel, Rinaldo, and so on.

For each city/date/composer/opera the exhibition explored the social environment of the time and the importance of opera as an art form at different historical periods, for instance in relation to the ideas of the Enlightenment in Mozart’s time, or Italian nationalism in relation to Verdi’s work. The final section of the exhibition looked at opera post-1940.

There was also live music performed by students from the Royal College of Music.

One of the first year BMus students who came on the trip said: ‘The exhibition – its content and the way it was presented – was very inspiring. And it was very nice to be able to share the experience with other students and with the tutors’.

The trip ended in true City style with a meal in a local pizzeria!

‘Radio-Controlled’, BBC R3 Feature, Sun 11 April 18:45. Featuring Ian Pace.

On Sunday 11 April at 18:45, on BBC Radio 3, the Sunday Feature will be a programme called ‘Radio Controlled’, looking at the role of radio stations in supporting and promoting new music in Germany. This is based extensively upon the research of City lecturer and Head of Performance Ian Pace, who is interviewed at length for the feature. His work on radio forms part of a wider research project, drawing extensively upon a large amount of archival data and also many German newspapers from the period, into the origins of German (and indeed European) new music in the period from 1945 to 1951, and its earlier provenance during the Weimar Republic and to some extent through the Third Reich. The below is a short article published on Ian’s own blog, which gives an overview of the subject.

Some time ago, I figured out to myself that the infrastructure for new music in Europe had its origins in West Germany, in the sense that in that country, before anywhere else, there was a large and elaborate range of festivals, concert series, radio stations broadcasting new music, dedicated journals, newspapers with a range of sympathetic critics, and educational institutions in which modernist composers had teaching positions. Nowadays similar such infrastructures exist, and have done for some decades, in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Spain, Finland and elsewhere, but that in Germany was essentially in place by the early 1950s. Considering how devastated the country was been after the war, with over three-quarters of buildings destroyed in many major cities, this was a remarkable development, which took place very quickly. I was fascinated to explore how and why this could have happened, exactly which types of music were most favoured at the time (not just those that today’s historical filter determines to be important). Other scholars, including historians David Monod, Toby Thacker, Elizabeth Janik and Andreas Linsenmann, had explored wider aspects of post-war German musical life and its reconstruction, but while all had considered new music, none had made this the primary focus of their study.

There have been other historical models applied loosely in this respect: the so-called Stunde null or ‘zero hour’ model, which maintains that in the wake of the devastation of war, Germany had to rebuild itself from scratch. This was equally true of music, necessitating the forging a new language, free of the tainted historical past. Another model, based upon some questionable writings of Frances Stonor Saunders and others, and widely disseminated by Richard Taruskin, maintains that new music was essentially fuelled by the United States and its intelligence agencies, beginning in the occupation era, and the most ‘abstract’ (especially atonal and pointillistic) work was supported in opposition to Soviet ideals of socialist realism, especially following the Zhdanov Decree of 1948. Thus new music was enlisted as a weapon in the cultural Cold War.

Both these models contain grains of truth, but both are also too simplistic. There were a great many continuities of works, styles and personnel in German music before and after 1945. There is also very little evidence of US support for the most radical new music in Germany after the occupation era, though there was certainly a programme in place in the late 1940s to promote US composers, who were mostly contemporary. These were however mostly the likes of Howard Hanson, Aaron Copland, Quincy Porter or Walter Piston. In the 1950s John Cage would visit Germany on several occasions, and his influence was pronounced and sustained, but there is little evidence of this being connected to any wider US government policy or Cold War strategy. The latter was mostly focused elsewhere (the German programme of the leading agency, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, was relatively small and mostly focused upon Berlin) and they promoted neo-classical music and jazz more actively than the far-out achievements of the post-war avant-garde.

What is a much more significant factor, in my view, is the concept of Nachholbedarf (‘catching up’), which was used widely immediately after 1945. This held basically that Germany had been cut off from all significant international and modernist developments in music for a period of 12 years, and so it was now necessary to ‘catch up’. The assumptions entailed here were at most only partially true, however. Whilst the protagonists of one wing of Nazi aesthetic ideology, epitomised by Alfred Rosenberg and his Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur , were implacably hostile to modernism in all the arts, others thought differently, as did their counterparts in fascist Italy. Composers such as Bartók and Stravinsky were quite widely performed in Nazi Germany at least up until the early years of the war, while the twelve-tone composer and Schoenberg student Winfried Zillig won great success for a range of operas and took a position as music director in occupied Poznań, in Poland (part of the so-called Warthegau, a region of Poland which was the site of some of the most atrocious racial policies against both Jewish people and Poles at the hands of fanatical ideologue Arthur Greiser). Much has been made of the Entartete Musik exhibition in Düsseldorf in 1938, now and also after 1945, but this was not a large-scale event and was in many ways a personal obsession of the organiser Hans Severus Ziegler. It was not attended by many prominent musicians, and did not impress Joseph Goebbels, who wrote about it in his diaries. There was plenty of international music performed throughout the Reich, though generally from friendly nations. Modern Italian music could be heard regularly, as could Spanish music after 1939, while there were tours from Romanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian musicians, even a reasonable amount of Russian music during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Japanese conductor Hidemaro Konoye travelled repeatedly to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and and his score Etenraku (1930), based on a traditional gagaku melody, was played widely throughout the Third Reich and occupied territories. Cultural exchange associations between fascist nations sprung up during the period, while Peter Raabe, head of the Reichsmusikkammer after Richard Strauss’s resignation, essentially subscribed to what is now thought of as a ‘nationalistic cosmopolitics’, favourable towards multiple cultural nationalisms, in opposition to pan-national cosmopolitanism. Raabe was also sympathetic to a fair amount of modernist music. He conducted Schoenberg, Hindemith, Skryabin and others when Generalmusikdirektor in Aachen from 1918 to 1929, and was impressed when he heard Berg’s Wozzeck.

Nonetheless, the assumptions underlying the concept of Nachholbedarf were rarely questioned after 1945, and this argument was used to justify the creation of a range of specialised institutions for new music, gaining financial support from local and state authorities, and the occupying powers, towards this end. Many contemporary institutions for new music were either founded during this period or have their roots there. Furthermore, the US, France and the Soviet Union all had extensive cultural programmes, in large measure devoted to promoting culture from their own countries for a variety of motives (for the US, in part from an inferiority complex, aware of German perceptions that the US was a highly commercialised society lacking high culture; for the French, in order to supplant Germany as the central nation for European culture; for the Soviet Union, in order to promote the purportedly superior possibilities for culture under communism). The UK had a certain programme, but it was relatively modest, and primarily focused upon the press and media, seen as vital in generating a culture of political pluralism.

Furthermore, as has been shown above all in the comprehensive scholarship of Martin Thrun, there was an extremely extensive infrastructure for new music in place during the Weimar Republic. Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich and elsewhere all had extensive cultures of new music – and some of the musical aesthetics entailed a more radical break with the recent past (with widespread opposition to the values of Wagnerism and Imperial Germany prominent especially amongst the Novembergruppe of artists in Berlin) than was the case after 1945. A great many festivals and concert series came and went between 1918 and 1933, some continuing beyond 1933. Radio began in Germany in late 1923, and a few years later stations were commissioning new works of music, and composers exploiting the specific possibilities of the medium.

However, this was a time of huge economic instability, and few of the institutions proved financially stable for this reason. The same situation was naturally true after 1945, especially at the time of currency reform in 1948, in which the introduction of a new currency rendered many people’s savings essentially worthless. However, this is where the role of the radio stations, whose funding was relatively stable due to a licence fee system, is crucial. Many of the most prominent and important festivals and concert series for new music – in Munich, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Donaueschingen, Baden-Baden, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Cologne and Hamburg in particular – were supported by radio stations, which gave them a staying power which was rare in the 1920s.

Furthermore, it is vital to consider some of the individuals involved with these radio stations – figures such as Heinrich Strobel at Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden, who did a huge amount to support and promote contemporary French music, Herbert Eimert at the branch of Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne (later Westdeutscher Rundfunk), who founded the electronic music studio in Cologne and was mentor to the young Karlheinz Stockhausen, Eigel Kruttge, the first music director at the same station and later co-founder of the important new music series Musik der Zeit, Hans Heinz Stuckenschmidt at Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor in Berlin, who presented a range of programmes with quasi-Socratic dialogues between himself and other individuals unsympathetic to new music, Heinz Schröter at Radio Frankfurt, later Hessischer Rundfunk, who developed a major new music festival in Bad Nauheim and then Frankfurt, and was also involved in supporting the courses at Darmstadt, or Herbert Hübner, also at Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (later Norddeutscher Rundfunk) but at the central headquarters in Hamburg, who like others created a special late-night series devoted to new music, and from 1951 the series das neue werk, Otto-Erich Schilling at Radio Stuttgart, later Süddeutscher Rundfunk in Stuttgart, or Heinz Pringsheim at Radio Munich, later Bayerischer Rundfunk.  All of these figures had a strong commitment to new music, and almost all were appointed to key positions between 1945 and 1946 (Hübner in 1947). Some had very questionable pasts: Schilling, Kruttge and Hübner had been NSDAP members (possibly also Stuckenschmidt, and also certainly his wife, singer Margot Hinnenberg-Lefèbre, though both may have been entered without their consent), as had other influential figures such as composers Wolfgang Fortner, Ernst Lothar von Knorr and Gerhard Frommel, Robert Ruthenfranz, founder of the Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik in 1936, Hugo Herrmann, an interim director of the Donaueschinger Musiktage and musical director of other festivals in Konstanz, Trossingen and Tübingen right after the war, pianist Eduard Erdmann, choral expert Siegfried Goslich, who worked at the radio station in Weimar, in the Soviet Zone, after 1945, and from 1948 played a major role in developing new music at Radio Bremen, or electronic music pioneer Werner Meyer-Eppler. Schilling had written an opera based on the anti-semitic propaganda film Jüd Suß and also a cantata beginning with the text ‘Wir hassen den Juden und lieben, was deutsch ist’ (‘We hate the Jews and love that which is German’). Stuckenschmidt and Eimert’s Nazi-era journalism sometimes parroted Nazi propaganda, as did that of Strobel when writing for the Nazi occupation paper Pariser Zeitung, though in Strobel’s case it should be borne in mind that he was married to a Jewish woman and there is good evidence that he made whatever compromises were necessary to protect her.

But in almost all cases the individuals involved with radio found that the occupying powers found them acceptable and were happy to allow them to take up the positions they did. Kruttge was an exception, and removed from his position at an early stage for a period. Why this was depends on individual cases: in some cases there was simply not the time for the military authorities to investigate the fine details of some people’s journalism and employment of Nazi tropes and rhetoric, and this became less and less of a concern as denazification was scaled down and handed over to German authorities, before being brought to an end entirely. In the case of Strobel, who been an opponent of German romanticism and indeed the expressionism of Schoenberg back in the 1920s, the French authorities had plenty of good reason to believe in his Francophile tendencies, notwithstanding his wartime journalism. As such he could be counted upon to support their own cultural agenda, a prediction which proved wholly accurate.

Without the work of these individuals at radio stations, I do not believe that not only avant-garde German composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen (and arguably less radical composers such as Hans Werner Henze or Giselher Klebe), but also those from elsewhere including Pierre Boulez, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, and indeed John Cage, all of whom were widely performed in West Germany, would have gained the reputation and profile that they did, at least for a period. And their work paved the way for subsequent generations.

‘New music’ is a concept whose roots are in an essay ‘Neue Musik’ published by critic Paul Bekker in 1919, stimulating a wide range of responses through the 1920s), in the sense of a separate realm of musical activity from more ‘mainstream’ classical music, with financial support from sources other than ticket sales and private sponsorship. It is fundamentally a phenomenon borne out of particular historical circumstances in Germany after crushing defeat in 1918 and 1945. This is not the whole picture, for sure, and one should not neglect other parallel developments elsewhere – for  example the Festival internazionale di musica contemporanea founded in Venice in 1932 (thus in the midst of the Fascist era), which continues to the present day, or other developments in France, Austria, the UK and elsewhere. But the scale of such a thing was greatest in Germany. What then becomes a difficult question for all of those (including myself) committed to and involved with such a scene, is what is the basis for its continuation, and financial support, now that historical conditions have changed, and the legitimising arguments for the associated infrastructure no longer have the same cogency.

 

City University Chamber Orchestra Performs at St Clement’s

The City University Chamber Orchestra gave their first concert of 2018 at St Clement’s Church, close to City, on the evening of Friday 25th January.

Conducted by Tim Hooper, the orchestra performed Bela Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances (1917), the beautiful Pavane by Gabriel Faure (1887) and ended with Haydn’s Symphony no 101 in D Major, also known as the ‘Clock Symphony’ (1793/4).

Many thanks to Tim Hooper and to Leo Chadburn for his concert organisation, to St Clement’s for hosting the concert, and of course to everyone who played!

The orchestra’s next concert will be part of the Department’s Summer Sounds Festival in June.

City Music students visit Fabric

Students taking a new module in Electronic Dance Music had a privileged visit to Clerkenwell clubbing institution Fabric recently. They were met and shown around the building by the club manager, artistic programmer, marketing manager and chief sound engineer, who all gave unique perspectives on what it takes to run a large, iconic club in London for the last 18 years.

 

Students were able to set foot inside the famous Room 1 DJ booth, experience the unique ‘bodysonic’ sub-bass transducer dance floor, as well as hear the same music played back (at full volume!) on different systems… all to themselves!

  

 

A huge thanks to Judy, Kirsti, Luke and Pierre for taking their time to host us.