A range of former and current students have been interviewed over the last few days. All the interviews are available to read on this blog at the following links:
The final concert of this year’s City Summer Sounds Music Festival took place on Friday 31st May at the local church of St Clement’s, King Square.
The concert began with the City University Chamber Orchestra performing the Overture to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro (1786). The orchestra was then joined by the Music Department’s Chamber Choir for a performance of Haydn’s dramatic Missa in Tempore Belli (‘Mass in Time of War’) (1796).
Many thanks to Tim Hooper for his amazing work conducting both Chamber Choir and Chamber Orchestra this year.
The concert marked the end of this year’s festival and another busy year of music-making!
The City Music Department’s annual alumni event was held on Friday 24th May 2019, as part of the Summer Sounds Festival 2019.
The evening began with a concert featuring four of our outstanding pianist alumni, each of whom are variously established as concert soloists with international careers, as award-winning creative musicians, and as rising stars.
First on stage was Ben Smith (BMus, 2015), performing the extraordinary extended piece Phrygian Gates (1977-1978) by John Adams. This was followed by Ikuko Inoguchi (PhD, 2016) playing a series of pieces by Japanese composer Karen Tanaka (b.1961): Who Stole the Tarts? (2016), Water Dance I. Very lightly with flow (2011) and Crystalline II (1995).
Jazz pianist Robert Mitchell (BSc, 1993) then performed a solo set, followed by Clare Hammond (DMA, 2012) who completed the concert with a series of pieces around the theme of ‘bees’: Felix Mendelssohn’s The Bee’s Wedding (Op. 67 No. 4), Rimsky-Korsakov’s (arr. Rachmaninov) Flight of the Bumblebee and Ewan Campbell’s Flight of the Killer Bee (2013). Clare also performed the piece A Garland for Anne (2003) by City Professor Emeritus Rhian Samuel, who was also in attendance at the concert.
The evening ended with a drinks reception for alumni, final year music students and current and former staff.
Many thanks to all who attended, and to the alumni office for organising the evening, and of course to our amazing pianist alumni!
Thanks for joining us, Mara. Can you start by telling us a little about the placement you are doing at the moment?
I’m doing an internship at Peter Conway Management, a company led by artist manager Peter Conway. I work in the office once a week or so and my role ranges from doing paperwork, writing emails and answering phone calls to even doing admin work in Peter’s absence, helping set up events and liaising with artists. It has been my first taste of the music business, something which I’m very grateful for.
What are you enjoying most?
Taking part in the crafting process of certain events and then getting to see the end result is one of the most rewarding and motivating things for me. Also, being part of the music world – it’s always exciting when you get to meet different artists and see them perform. It does feel a bit surreal sometimes.
What have you found challenging?
It’s my first work experience, so it was a bit scary at first. You want to do your best, but it takes a while to learn the ropes and get used to everything. I was a bit shy in the beginning and there were lots of moments when I had to come out of my comfort zone to get things done, such as emailing promoters, meeting artists and other influential people, networking, and so on. It’s not second nature to me, but I feel like the first step is the hardest. Once you start doing it, the nerves start to dissipate, and it just gets easier and easier with time.
How did you go about finding your placement?
I found out about the internship through the Work Placement module at City. Peter is a good friend of Debbie Dickinson’s, the module leader who sadly passed away in March. She had invited him to come and talk to the placement students. So, it was through Debbie that I came into contact with him. In that regard, I will always be extremely grateful to her.
What is the most valuable thing/s you have learnt from your placement?
For me, although this might be a bit of a cliché, it’s important not to give up. I was rejected before and one time I didn’t even get a reply; but I had been told that out of a hundred applications, you’re lucky if you get a reply from ten, so that was very motivational for me. If you get rejected, don’t despair – just keep your head high and keep looking. There has to be something out there for you, I personally have always believed in that.
Do you have any advice for students thinking about taking the placement module or a sandwich year?
I have two. The first is to not be too hard on yourself. I have made mistakes and I was told I would, but it’s still hard. At any workplace, especially when it’s your first internship, you want to do your best. I used to criticise my every move, but then I realised that mistakes really are the best teacher and that it’s normal. I’m still scared of making them, but it doesn’t bother me as much anymore if it happens.
The second thing is that this internship has improved my self-confidence in a way I wouldn’t have imagined. As I’ve mentioned, meeting a large number of people and socialising wasn’t easy for me initially. But, when you’re thrown out there, you have to find a way to make it work. It’s an exercise to get out of your comfort zone and I cannot stress how much it has helped me. I’m still working on it, but it’s getting better and better every time.
Thank you for sharing your placement experience with us!
On Friday 7th December, we ended the term with a big bang with the annual City Music Department Christmas Cabaret.
The cabaret has been running since 2011 and is now an unmissable date in the department calendar.
The afternoon began with a performance of seasonal pieces by the Balinese gamelan ensemble, followed by the (in)famous staff vs student quiz, which this year featured a revealing ‘Would I Lie to You?’ round and some impressive rapping by 3rd year student Will Brown and Professor Stephen Cottrell.
Highlights of the afternoon included performances by the Balkan Ensemble and by members of Jazz-Improvisation Ensemble. There was also a staff balloon ensemble (‘Hot Air’) performing David Bedford’s Balloon Music 1 (1973) and the staff also accompanied our very own City Music version of the 12 Days of Christmas. The afternoon rounded off with everyone dancing to the music of the Funk Band.
The prize for most sparkly outfit was awarded to Will Brown and best Christmas jumper to Gabriel Makara. We also raised £85 for Mind, auctioning off two special edition Walls on Walls designer mugs.
A big thank you to the organising committee – Helen Brand, Sam Jones, Mara Miron, Brandon Sands, Morten Vamplew and Hannah Wood – and also to Will Goring and Josh Mitchell for the sound and lighting, and to Claudia and Tullis for compering the afternoon.
It was a great way to end the term. Happy Christmas everyone!
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!
Many congratulations to City Music PhD students Gabrielle Messeder and Soosan Lolavar who have been awarded grants to undertake fieldwork related to their research in Beirut and Tehran.
The British Forum for Ethnomusicology Fieldwork Awards Grant Scheme is very competitive and we are delighted that 2 out of the 4 grants this year have been awarded to City students. Gabby and Soosan introduce their projects below.
I’m researching contemporary practices of Brazilian music and dance in Lebanon. Focussing primarily on the genres of samba, bossa nova and música popular brasileira (MPB), I aim to trace their development from the bossa-influenced sound of recordings by Fairouz and Ziad Rahbani in the 1970s to the bands and blocos that perform in Lebanon today. I’ll explore the unique, ambivalent and sometimes contested space that the performance of Brazilian music by both Brazilian and non-Brazilian performers occupies in the cosmopolitan Lebanese musical milieu, and discuss how issues of cultural conservatism, exoticism and stereotyping shape the production, performance and reception of Brazilian music and dance in Lebanon today.
My research brings together the methodologies of composition and ethnomusicology to explore a new movement in music in Iran in which musicians and composers combine aspects of Iranian classical music with ideas more commonly associated with Western music. My work will present both a written ethnography and portfolio of compositions considering the creative, social and political effects of drawing from these two forms, particularly against the backdrop of a post-revolutionary Iran in which objects of Western culture are often associated with the imperialism and colonialism.
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.
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!
Over the past few months students and staff in and around the Music Department, along with concert-going visitors, have been taking the opportunity participate in creating a new audio-visual artwork for the Performance Space foyer.
The piece was facilitated by Walls On Walls – visual artist Laurie Nouchka with composer and Lecturer in Music Tullis Rennie. Their work forms part of Dr Rennie’s practice-based research into participative process and distributed authorship in sound and visual arts practice.
The new artwork explores the past history, current profile and possible futures of the department, taking inspiration from the architecture of the building and activity happening within it.
Students from 1st year undergraduate through to Masters and PhD took part in creating the content for this work. The group focused on themes relating to in-between, liminal and hidden spaces of the department.
Students recorded audio in specific spaces, including making electro-magnetic recordings, sounds walks and spoken interviews. Visually, the design emerged by drawing these spaces and responding to the audio through mark-making and audio-visual representations, both literal (sonograms) and more abstract, individual responses.
The project offers a chance to learn professional skills in publicly-engaged arts practice. The project also connected more formally with some 2nd year composition modules, MA Interdisciplinarity and the SPARC Listening Group.
We invite you to a sharing of the piece on the Wednesday 30th May 2018 at 6pm in the Performance Foyer space.
Laurie Nouchka, Visiting Artist