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!
Staff Balloon Ensemble
Members of Jazz-Improvisation Ensemble
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
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.
Fiona Baldwin Tanner
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!
On the evening of Tuesday 13th February 2018, the Music Department held its annual ‘Careers with a Music Degree’ Evening in conjunction with the City Careers Service. There were 5 speakers, including several City music alumni, as follows:
– Laura Selby, Studio Manager at Brains and Hunch;
– Marc Dooley, Head of Digital Content Development at Edition Peters;
– Eloise Garland, Freelance Musician, Teacher and Deaf Awareness Campaigner;
– Luke Annesley, Music Therapist at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust;
– Sophie Ransby, Education Manager – Orchestras at the South Bank Centre.
The evening was led by Estanislao Bouza-Ortin, from the City Careers Service, who asked speakers about their own career paths, what their current work role entails on a day-to-day basis and what advice they would offer students to help them land their dream job.
The evening was attended by both UG and PG students who found it very useful to hear from and ask questions and careers advice from music professionals. Final year BMus student Emilie Parry-Williams commented: “It was an incredibly informative evening. It was reassuring to hear how from their music degree, the panel had all embarked on different paths and found success in various places within the music industry. Listening to their experiences gave me peace of mind that the degree is the right choice, and will open lots of doors to me upon graduation.”
After the formal session, the evening continued with networking with wine and nibbles.
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.