Category Archives: News

Dr Tullis Rennie releases new record ‘Muscle Memory’

Muscle Memory is a new record by composer Tullis Rennie, featuring two recently composed sound pieces made in collaboration with Matthew Bourne and Graham South.

The new release was recently described by The Wire Magazine as “a piece of meta art; an album about listening to music”.

The record is part autobiographic docu-music, part jazz-inspired dreamscape. It is available as a limited numbered vinyl only release from November 2017.

Each recording begins on the sofa in the house of a collaborator. Tullis joins Matthew in his idyllic Yorkshire hilltop live-in studio, and  Graham in his Manchester red-brick front room. From ‘listening-in’ to chat in these domestic spaces, we then float into abstract realms of electronic textures and improvised musical conversations between each pair.

The release was recently celebrated with a series of intimate listening parties held in living rooms in London, Hasting, Brighton and Manchester.

Dr Simon Waters, in a Contemporary Music Review article discussing the work, states that:

“Muscle Memory begins to answer questions about how one work can comment on and analyse or critique another through its own agency as music. It also demonstrates how a work can marshal autobiography and ethnography to illuminate the human capacity to manipulate and be manipulated by musical activity. It explicitly engages multiple modes of listening and points of view: documentary ‘field’ recordist; participant observer; soundscape composer; ‘amateur’ musicologist and music lover; DJ and remix artist; spectromorphological composer—and allows the listener to explore different modes of listening through these multiple and nested points of view such that this becomes the primary formal concern. The listening home (the point of view) is contingent and transitory as we move through the scant twelve and a half minutes of the piece, so the listener is constantly becoming re-involved with, and made conscious of, the act of listening”

Waters, S. (2015) ‘Tullis Rennie’s Muscle Memory : Listening to the Act of Listening’ Contemporary Music Review 34(1), pp.22–32.

 

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.

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.

 

British-Iranian composer and City PhD student Soosan Lolavar on her opera ID, Please, and experiences of US immigration

Composer Soosan Lolavar, who is currently studying for a PhD at City, has recently received new public attention relating to her experiences in having her opera ID, Please performed in the United States. In this blog she writes exclusively in detail about the new work and her recent trip to the country, following the announcement by the new president Donald Trump of severe restrictions on entry to the country by those of Muslim origin, lending the opera a new topicality.

A year ago, when myself and the playwright Daniel Hirsch discussed a storyline for the opera that we would write together, we had no idea how acutely world events would become entangled in our work. At the time, I was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania studying Iranian classical music at Carnegie Mellon University with the help of a Fulbright Scholarship. As a British-Iranian immigrant to the US (and as a human being) I was deeply disturbed by the rhetoric of the Republican primaries unfolding around us, particularly the much discussed ‘Muslim ban,’ supported in various gradations by every single Republican candidate. At the time (the halcyon days of early 2016) such a move seemed like grotesque political posturing: a racist and divisive move, but surely one that no sane candidate would ever actually enact. Against this backdrop we briefly considered writing an opera about Trump, but decided that he would likely be gone from public life by the time of the opera’s performance and so might seem like a strange choice of figure. In the end we settled on a piece about immigration, set at border control in an unnamed country and time and considering contemporary rhetoric on borders, nationalism and others.

In February 2017, five days before I was due to fly to the US to attend the rehearsals of our immigration-themed opera, ID, Please, I received the news that, due to my dual British-Iranian nationality, I was officially banned from entering a country I had called home for a year. My experience was, thankfully, incredibly short-lived, since soon enough the privilege of my British passport swung into action and dual nationals of the UK were given special dispensation to travel. This left me in a strange and ambivalent position that I continue to navigate. My situation received some media attention – ‘British-Iranian composer unable to attend rehearsals of her opera about immigration’ has a fairly nice ring to it – in which I struggled to prevent journalists from representing me as a poor, innocent victim of the order. My British privilege had already ensured that I would travel as normal while Iranian passport-holding friends of mine who lived in the US were now terrified for their immigration status. Moreover, unlike my hijab-wearing family, I am able to ‘pass’ as un-threatening at border control and avoid the ‘random’ extra checks they continually endure. This is not to say that I experienced immigration without fear. Due to my dual nationality, I carry a different visa from most British nationals which always elicits a question and the subsequent disclosure of my Iranian nationality. On landing at JFK I braced myself for extra questioning and, in an eerie echo of one of the lines from the opera, “clutched my passport so hard it made my hand hurt”. Oddly, in the end the officer asked me no questions at all. Perhaps he was just tired after a no doubt exhausting week, perhaps he forgot, or perhaps it was due to the fact that the Temporary Restraining Order on the bill had been enacted just four hours before I landed. I suppose I will never know.

Needless to say, the events of the past few months have brought the opera into terrifyingly sharp focus, with the shape of the work altering several times as a result. In reaction to world events, Daniel Hirsch added references to ‘building walls’, ‘checking their teeth’ and ‘a billionaire tyrant’, as well as an instance where a Muslim passenger is asked to visit a different queue on disclosure of her religion (eerily enough, this line was added before we could be sure the Muslim Ban was anything other than bloviating election rhetoric).

Despite these oblique contemporary references, the opera as a whole is located everywhere and nowhere, with the travellers representing everyone and nobody at all. Of a total of three singers, only the baritone border guard represents a fixed and conventional character. The other singers act as ciphers playing multiple travellers with no names, switching gender, religion and backstory dozens of times throughout the opera. Thus, while one singer proclaims themselves a refugee in one instance, they may disclose that they are a drug smuggler, a human-rights activist or a student soon after. The overlapping voice types of traveller one and two – mezzo-soprano and counter-tenor – similarly reflect the constant identity slippages that each singer engages in. Our intention was that the audience is left with a feeling of uncertainty of who anybody really is. Are any of us truly and completely honest at borders? Can the list of questions asked really enable you know someone? Is there such a thing as an innocent or a guilty person?

Moreover, as a result of such shifting characters, the work as a whole eschews a conventional narrative arc. A question I’m regularly asked is how many of the travellers make it through to the other side of the border. The answer is we have no idea. We focus on the plight of one person only briefly and, before we know the outcome, the action shifts to someone new. Here the story explores how individuality (and humanity) can be erased at borders as unique life experiences harden into case numbers. This is true both for travellers facing the power of the state, and for those that work at border control whose individualism is stripped away by a life of dull, repetitive tasks.

Against this backdrop and in terms of the music, I was keen to produce an environment with an overall feeling of instability, fear and mechanical, dehumanising repetition. I was particularly keen to ensure that repetition never felt safe or calming but always had a sense of instability or dread. One technique I used for this was shifting the rhythmic setting of particular reoccuring lines while keeping the melodic contour the same (see figure 1). This not only highlights the potentially ambivalent meaning of particular lines – for e.g. is “I do not like the way you look at me like that” a defiant statement of humanity or a fear of profiling? – but also created the feeling of a shifting foundation where the reality was never quite clear.

Fig. 1 From the mezzo-soprano aria ‘My hands are sweaty, my heart is racing’

Here the melodic contour is transposed down a fourth:

The same interrogation occuring at different points in the opera

 

The border guard questions travellers

However, the border guard repeats the phrase “anything else to declare?” several times throughout the opera with no changes made to its rhythmic setting. Moreover, he often presents questions to travellers sung entirely on one note. Both processes highlight him as a relatively powerless character, someone who is following orders and is dehumanised by their repetitiveness (see figure 2).

Fig. 2 Dehumanising the border guard

Further techniques that produce a feeling of instability include using mixed meters and syncopation to disrupt the pulse, and setting words so that the stresses fall unnaturally (see figure 3).

Fig 3.

In response to a question about their religious affiliation, traveller one (mezzo-soprano) responds, “Well, I don’t really have one, it’s kind of complicated”. In everyday speech, the stresses for this sentence might fall thus: “Well, I don’t really have one, it’s kind of complicated”. Instead, in this setting, strong beats fall on “Well, I don’t really have one”. Moreover, for “it’s kind of”, the triplet quaver is shifted by a semi-quaver so that a clear pulse is completely absent from the first few beats of the bar, and the first obvious strong beat falls in an unexpected location: “complicated”.

There are several further instances in the opera where a triplet quaver motif is shifted in order to disrupt a clear sense of pulse and stability, see figure 4.

Fig 4. Disrupting the sense of pulse by shifting a triplet quaver figure

 

A sense of uncertainty is not only produced through rhythmic instability but also through the fluctuation of pitch. There is a reoccurring theme of a low drone being interrupted by a quarter tone at several points throughout the opera (see figure 5).

Figure 5

B drone in marimba, trombone and tuba interrupted by C ¾♭ in bass clarinet, violin II, viola, cello and double bass

 

 

A drone on C disrupted by D ¾

This sense of pitch instability is further explored, particularly in a trumpet-cello duet which makes use of extreme vibrato, glissandi, ‘growling’ (a trumpet technique where the player sings into the instrument at the same time as playing, made popular particularly by big band jazz), and the use of a plunger mute to create the sense of an unstable pitch centre, see figure 6.

Figure 6

Pitch stability interrupted by various techniques

ID, Please has become a complex process through which I work through my feelings of instability in the new world order, my fears for immigrant communities across the world and my concerns for the safety of my family and friends. As a result of recent political events, I certainly feel a greater sense of responsibility to produce a piece of work that adequately represents the complexity of such positions.

The work will premier at Pittsburgh Opera on 1st April 2017 and will be live-streamed via the Carnegie Mellon University website with hopes to bring it to the UK in in the near future.

Newton Armstrong on BBC Radio 3 and RTBF (Belgium)

Newton Armstrong has recently featured on programmes on BBC Radio 3 and Radio Télévision Belge Francophone. In December, Armstrong was interviewed on a Radio 3 Music Matters feature programme on American composer Milton Babbitt, titled “Milton Babbitt: Changing the way we think about music.” Earlier this month, Armstrong was the subject of a profile feature on the RTBF programme “La touche contempo.”

The programmes can be streamed at the links below:

Milton Babbitt: Changing the way we think about music (BBC Radio 3, Music Matters).

La touche contempo: Newton Armstrong (in French, Radio Télévision Belge Francophone).

 

Martin Roscoe – Interview with Natalie Tsaldarakis ahead of concert and masterclass

The world-renowned pianist and Guildhall School Professor Martin Roscoe will be giving a lunchtime recital of music of Schumann, Schubert and Dohnányi at City on Friday January 27th, at 13:10 in the Performance Space. He will also be giving a masterclass to City students beginning at 14:30 that day.

City PhD student Natalie Tsaldarakis, who is researching with supervisor Ian Pace the ‘Manchester School’ of pianism and especially the influence of Gordon Green, Roscoe’s teacher, has conducted an exclusive interview with him in advance of the concert. This is printed here.

 

I watched with interest your interviews with Melanie Spanswick, Keith Homer and conversation with Peter Donohoe and wanted to ask: As a youngster you faced a major crisis performing the Waldstein Sonata and receiving less than favourable reaction from the adjudicator at a competitive festival, then playing for Gordon Greene and Marjorie Clementi and being told that you were talented but in need of discipline and indeed a new teacher. [For those who may not be aware, the Waldstein forms part of the second disc of Beethoven Sonatas recorded for the Deux-Elles label and was hailed by BBC3 as exhibiting “perfect musical judgement and a formidable technique”]. How did your family find out about Gordon Green in the first place?

My mother was a science teacher and she asked the music teacher at her school who recommended getting touch with Gordon Green, who lived in Liverpool. I went to his house to play to him. 1965 I think.

In what way was Gordon ‘a major influence’ on your playing? 

I started lessons with him in 1969 after four years with Marjorie Clementi. He was very much a person who adapted his teaching to each student and taught with care to bring out the best in everyone. He had tremendous knowledge of repertoire but also was a fantastically generous person. He had a colossal variety of other interests as well. He was very inspiring on many levels.

Are you aware of Gordon’s influence in your teaching and/or your performing?

I can remember most of what he said to me…but he didn’t have a teaching method as such. All his students sounded different; the hallmark of an exceptional teacher in my view.

Do you feel that you are part of a legacy and if so, in what way?

I guess I must be in that Gordon studied with pupils of Busoni and Liszt, yet this applies to so many pianists. I tend not to think too much about that.

Thinking about our students, for some perhaps similarly feeling the need to transition to a higher level of performance but who may still have technical challenges to face: is it ever too late to do so, and is there an optimum age to acquire a solid technical foundation to enable one to perform at a professional  standard?

Well the sooner the better I guess, while fingers and brain are at their best. Yet we are all different!

And in a place like London, where there are many teachers of all possible levels, how would one go about choosing the right teacher? 

Ask around for recommendations and play to maybe three or four people. Go for the person who gives you the most new information without either telling you how good or how bad you are!

What is your practice regime these days?

I just have a goal what I need to achieve each day for the upcoming concerts, as well as perhaps spending some time revising a work I haven’t played for several years, or learning something new.

Do you still do any technical work or do you work on the challenges within context of a particular piece?

I don’t do any technical exercises any more, there are so many challenges already to keep one busy.

You talk about having had masterclasses as a student, such as with Brendel, which you found fascinating. Do you have an aim in mind when you are delivering masterclasses yourself, taking into consideration that time will always be limited?

I learnt a lot from playing to Brendel and also listening to him work with others. In my own classes I try to keep to general points mostly, although each student needs a different response. It’s also important not to belittle the student in public, (or in private for that matter), and also to try to direct some general comments to the listeners.

What should students expect when playing for you at a masterclass?

They can expect me to kind and helpful!

Should they come prepared to play from memory and do you have any tips on how to deal with nerves (and possibly the usual fear of forgetting the music when playing from memory)?

Memory is a huge issue. As I’ve virtually given up playing from memory I’m not going to complain if someone plays from the score to me in class! With regard to nerves I suggest one can look at the extended interview I gave on the subject on the website Beyond Stage Fright (see http://www.beyondstagefright.com/martin-roscoe/)

You evidently have a prodigious memory and capacity to learn new repertoire: your official site states that you have a repertoire of over 100 concertos alone, not to mention the solo and chamber music repertoire you have performed and prolifically recorded. What is your approach to learning new repertoire (or returning to “old” pieces): do you analyse and how far do you go with this?

Learning new pieces requires utmost care of detailed preparation and I often work hands separately and at very slow tempo. Revising is a much quicker process. I’m fortunate that I can learn quickly, but we are all different.

How important is for you learning about the context in which a composition came to be and how important is listening to other pianists? Perhaps you have some tips for our students in preparation for the masterclass?

Some background can be useful and of course one should listen to other pianists. However one should guard against listening exclusively and often to one particular recording.

And one more question on repertoire: in a recent interview with Frances Wilson (the well-known blogger of Cross-Eyed Pianist fame and Bachtrack critic) you stated that “Meaning is more important than style, yet a sound knowledge of style is also necessary”. Would you care to elaborate further?

Not really…I think this is self-explanatory. I will just say that communication in performance is the be all and end all and performance practice is a means to that end.

Tell us a bit about your choice of repertoire for your concert at City and your recording projects: you have an extensive catalogue with far-ranging repertoire. The latest CD with Beethoven Sonatas was released this December; when can we expect the first instalment of Schubert?

The date came in at fairly short notice. I’m playing these pieces as well as others in a recital in Leipzig two days later. My Beethoven is all recorded but it seems to be taking the company a very long time to release the discs. I’ve put a hold on recording Schubert until the releases of Beethoven are pretty much complete…three more discs to go!

What do you make of the changing environment of the recording industry, and the relatively new media of recorded media dissemination online (downloads, streaming, YouTube, live streaming)? 

Being a bit of a dinosaur I don’t really have a view…yet…

How has this plurality and accessibility of low cost technology impacted you as a recording artist?

It hasn’t as yet…

Furthermore, could you make a prediction for the future of recorded media (physical CDs and online) versus live concerts (versus the audience)?

Recordings will never take the place of a live concert experience… Or at least they SHOULDN’T !

 

 

 

Martin Roscoe bio overview:

During his illustrious career, Martin Roscoe has become one of the UK’s most loved and respected pianists. With his extensive repertoire, consummate musicianship and immediate connection with audiences, he is in great demand as a concerto soloist, chamber musician and recitalist. Martin appears regularly at Wigmore Hall and has long-standing associations with many of the UK’s leading orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Scottish Symphony. A prolific recording artist, Martin has a distinguished discography and is one of the most broadcast pianists on BBC radio.

http://www.hazardchase.co.uk/artists/martin-roscoe/ accessed 6 January 2017

 

Bright Futures, Dark Pasts: Michael Finnissy at 70 – Jan 19/20, Conference/Concerts at City

Click here to book tickets for the conference and/or the concerts.

On Thursday January 19th and Friday January 20th, 2017, City, University of London is hosting a conference entitled Bright Futures, Dark Pasts: Michael Finnissy at 70.  This will feature a range of scholarly papers on a variety of aspects of Finnissy’s work – including his use of musical objets trouvés, engagement with folk music, sexuality, the influence of cinema, relationship to other contemporary composers, issues of marginality, and his work in performance. There will be three concerts, featuring his complete works for two pianos and piano duet, played by the composer, Ian Pace, and Ben Smith; a range of solo, chamber and ensemble works; and a complete performance (from 14:00-21:00 on Friday 20th) of his epic piano cycle The History of Photography in Sound by Ian Pace. The concerts include the world premieres of Finnissy’s Zortziko (2009) for piano duet and Kleine Fjeldmelodie (2016-17) for solo piano, the UK premiere of Duet (1971-2013) and London premieres of Fem ukarakteristisek marsjer med tre tilføyde trioer (2008-9) for piano duet, Derde symfonische etude (2013) for two pianos,  his voice/was then/here waiting (1996) for two pianos, and Eighteenth-Century Novels: Fanny Hill (2006) for two pianos. There will also be a rare chance to hear Finnissy’s Sardinian-inspired Anninnia (1981-2) for voice and piano, for the first time in several decades.

Keynote speakers will be Roddy Hawkins (University of Manchester), Gregory Woods (Nottingham Trent University, author of Homintern) and Ian Pace (City, University of London). The composer will be present for the whole event, and will perform and be interviewed by Christopher Fox (Brunel University) on his work and the History in particular.

The composer and photographer Patrícia Sucena de Almeida, who studied with Finnissy between 2000 and 2004, has created a photographic work, continuum simulacrum (2016-17) inspired by The History of Photography in Sound and particularly Chapter 6 (Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets). The series will be shown on screens in the department and samples of a book version will be available.

2

Patrícia Sucena de Almeida, from continuum simulacrum (2016-17).

The full programme can be viewed below. This conference also brings to a close Ian Pace’s eleven-concert series of the complete piano works of Finnissy.

A separate blog post will follow on The History of Photography in Sound.

Click here to book tickets for the conference and/or the concerts.

All events take place at the Department of Music, College Building, City, University of London, St John Street, London EC1V 4PB.  

Thursday January 19th, 2017

 09:00-09:30 Room AG09.
Registration and TEA/COFFEE.

09:30-10:00  Performance Space.
Introduction and tribute to Michael Finnissy by Ian Pace and Miguel Mera (Head of Department of Music, City, University of London).

10:00-12:00  Room AG09. Chair: Aaron Einbond.
Larry Goves (Royal Northern College of Music), ‘Michael Finnissy & Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: the composer as anthropologist’.

Maarten Beirens (Amsterdam University), ‘Questioning the foreign and the familiar: Interpreting Michael Finnissy’s use of traditional and non-Western sources’

Lauren Redhead (Canterbury Christ Church University), ‘The Medium is Now the Material: The “Folklore” of Chris Newman and Michael Finnissy’.

Followed by a roundtable discussion between the three speakers and composer and Finnissy student Claudia Molitor (City, University of London), chaired by Aaron Einbond.

12:00-13:00  Foyer, Performance Space.
LUNCH.

13:1014:15 Performance Space.
Concert 1: Michael Finnissy: The Piano Music (10). Michael Finnissy, Ian Pace and Ben Smith play Finnissy’s works for two pianos or four hands.

Michael Finnissy, Wild Flowers (1974) (IP/MF)
Michael Finnissy, Fem ukarakteristisek marsjer med tre tilføyde trioer (2008-9) (BS/IP) (London premiere)
Michael Finnissy, Derde symfonische etude (2013) (BS/IP) (London premiere)
Michael Finnissy, Deux jeunes se promènent à travers le ciel 1920 (2008) (IP/BS)
Michael Finnissy, his voice/was then/here waiting (1996) (IP/MF) (UK premiere)
Michael Finnissy, Eighteenth-Century Novels: Fanny Hill (2006) (IP/MF) (London premiere)

14:30-15:30 Room AG09. Chair: Lauren Redhead (Canterbury Christ Church University).Keynote: Roddy Hawkins (University of Manchester): ‘Articulating, Dwelling, Travelling: Michael Finnissy and Marginality’.

15:30-16:00  Foyer, Performance Space.
TEA/COFFEE.

16:00-17:00 Room AG09. Chair: Roddy Hawkins (University of Manchester).
Keynote: Ian Pace (City, University of London): ‘Michael Finnissy between Jean-Luc Godard and Dennis Potter: appropriation of techniques from cinema and TV’ 

17:00-18:00 Room AG09. Chair: Christopher Fox (Brunel University).
Roundtable on performing the music of Michael Finnissy. Participants: Neil Heyde (cellist), Ian Pace (pianist), Jonathan Powell (pianist), Christopher Redgate (oboist), Roger Redgate (conductor, violinist), Nancy Ruffer (flautist).

19:00              Performance Space.
Concert 2: City University Experimental Ensemble (CUEE), directed Tullis Rennie. Christopher Redgate, oboe/oboe d’amore; Nancy Ruffer, flutes; Bernice Chitiul, voice; Alexander Benham, piano; Michael Finnissy, piano; Ian Pace, piano; Ben Smith; piano.

Michael Finnissy, Yso (2007) (CUEE)
Michael Finnissy, Stille Thränen (2009) (Ian Pace, Ben Smith)
Michael Finnissy, Runnin’ Wild (1978) (Christopher Redgate)
Michael Finnissy, Anninnia (1981-82) (Bernice Chitiul, Ian Pace)
Michael Finnissy, Ulpirra (1982-83) (Nancy Ruffer)
Michael Finnissy, Pavasiya (1979) (Christopher Redgate)

INTERVAL

‘Mini-Cabaret’: Michael Finnissy, piano
Chris Newman, AS YOU LIKE IT (1981)
Michael Finnissy, Kleine Fjeldmelodie (2016-17) (World première)
Andrew Toovey, Where are we in the world? (2014)
Laurence Crane, 20th CENTURY MUSIC (1999)
Matthew Lee Knowles, 6th Piece for Laurence Crane (2006)
Morgan Hayes, Flaking Yellow Stucco (1995-6)
Tom Wilson, UNTIL YOU KNOW (2017) (World première)
Howard Skempton, after-image 3 (1990)

Michael Finnissy, Zortziko (2009) (Ian Pace, Ben Smith) (World première)
Michael Finnissy, Duet (1971-2013) (Ben Smith, Ian Pace) (UK première)
Michael Finnissy, ‘They’re writing songs of love, but not for me’, from Gershwin Arrangements (1975-88) (Alexander Benham)
Michael Finnissy, APRÈS-MIDI DADA (2006) (CUEE)

 

21:30  Location to be confirmed
CONFERENCE DINNER

Friday January 20th, 2017

10:00-11:00  Room AG21.
Christopher Fox in conversation with Michael Finnissy on The History of Photography in Sound.

11:00-11:30  Room AG21.
TEA/COFFEE.

11:30-12:30  Room AG21. Chair: Alexander Lingas (City, University of London).
Keynote: Gregory Woods (Nottingham Trent University): ‘My “personal themes”?!’: Finnissy’s Seventeen Homosexual Poets and the Material World’.

14:00-21:00      Performance Space.
Concert 3:  Michael Finnissy: The Piano Music (11): The History of Photography in Sound (1995-2002). Ian Pace, piano

14:00                     Chapters 1, 2: Le démon de l’analogie; Le réveil de l’intraitable realité.

15:00                     INTERVAL

15:15                     Chapters 3, 4: North American Spirituals; My parents’ generation thought War meant something

16:15                     INTERVAL

16:35                     Chapters 5, 6, 7: Alkan-Paganini; Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets; Eadweard Muybridge-Edvard Munch

17:50                     INTERVAL (wine served)

18:10                     Chapter 8: Kapitalistische Realisme (mit Sizilianische Männerakte und Bachsche Nachdichtungen)

19:20                     INTERVAL (wine served)

19:35                     Chapters 9, 10, 11: Wachtend op de volgende uitbarsting van repressie en censuur; Unsere Afrikareise; Etched Bright with Sunlight.

What characterizes the so-called advanced societies is that they today consume images and no longer, like those of the past, beliefs; they are therefore more liberal, less fanatical, but also more ‘false’ (less ‘authentic’) – something we translate, in ordinary consciousness, by the avowal of an impression of nauseated boredom, as if the universalized image were producing a world that is without difference (indifferent), from which can rise, here and there, only the cry of anarchisms, marginalisms, and individualisms: let us abolish the images, let us save immediate Desire (desire without mediation).

Mad or tame? Photography can be one or the other: tame if its realism remains relative, tempered by aesthetic or empirical habits (to leaf through a magazine at the hairdresser’s, the dentist’s); mad if this realism is absolute and, so to speak, original, obliging the loving and terrified consciousness to return to the very letter of Time: a strictly revulsive movement which reverses the course of the thing, and which I shall call, in conclusion, the photographic ecstasy.

Such are the two ways of the Photography.  The choice is mine: to subject its spectacle to the civilized code of perfect illusions, or to confront in it the wakening of intractable reality.

Ce qui caractérise les sociétés dites avancées, c’est que ces sociétés consomment aujourd’hui des images, et non plus, comme celles d’autrefois, des croyances; elles sont donc plus libérales, moins fanataiques, mais aussi plus «fausses» (moins «authentiques») – chose que nous traduisons, dans la conscience courante, par l’aveu d’une impression d’ennui nauséeux, comme si l’image, s’universalisant, produisait un monde sans differences (indifferent), d’où ne peut alors surgir ici et là que le cri des anarchismes, marginalismes et individualismes : abolissons les images, sauvons le Désir immédiat (sans mediation).

Folle ou sage? La Photographie peut être l’un ou l’autre : sage si son réalisme reste relative, tempére par des habitudes esthétiques ou empiriques (feuilleter une revue chez le coiffeur, le dentist); folle, si ce réalisme est absolu, et, si l’on peut dire, original, faisant revenir à la conscience amoureuse et effrayée la letter même du Temps : movement proprement révulsif, qui retourne le cours de la chose, et que l’appellerai pour finir l’extase photographique.

Telles sont les deux voies de la Photographie. A moi de choisir, de soumettre son spectacle au code civilise des illusions parfaits, ou d’affronter en elle le réveil de l’intraitable réalité.

Roland Barthes, Le chambre claire/Camera Lucida.

muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge – A. Throwing a Disk, B: Ascending a Step, C: Walking from Animal Locomotion (1885-1887).

base-7

Patrícia Sucena de Almeida, from continuum simulacrum (2016-17).

Click here to book tickets for the conference and/or the concerts.

‘The world according to Bob’ features on BBC Radio 3

bob-gilmore-cropforoto_page_image

Bob Gilmore

A selection of music recorded by the BBC in the Music Department’s Performance Space will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Hear and Now’ programme on Saturday, 3rd September 2016, at 22.00 (GMT).

The recordings were made during The world according to Bob, a two-day sequence of concerts and talks, hosted by the Music Department, celebrating the life, work, and ideas of the influential musicologist Bob Gilmore.

The programme includes a performance by Ian Pace of Horațiu Rădulescu’s Piano Sonata No. 2.

Full details of the programme can be found at the ‘Hear and Now’ website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07rkv2y.

 

Alumnus Wins Scholarship for PhD Study at Yale

This August, City University Alumnus (BMus) Henry Balme will commence his PhD in Music History at Yale University. After a rigorous application process, which included an examination and an interview, Henry was invited to join the Music Department as a doctoral student on a full scholarship at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

At City University Henry engaged in a variety of musical and academic activities including sound recording & studio techniques, studio composition, piano and ensemble performance and a wide array of ethnographic, theoretical, analytical and historical music courses. He was also active outside of the Music Department, entering the CitySpark’s ‘Big Ideas’ entrepreneurship competition where he won a prize for Orfeo, a media player concept dedicated solely to improving the digital listening experience of classical music.

After completing his BMus at City in 2014 with first class honours, he went on to commence his Master’s Degree at the University of Oxford. There, Henry’s research has been interdisciplinary in scope: his Master’s Thesis, supervised by Laura Tunbridge, drew on art historical and musicological research methods to shed new light on the almanac Der Blaue Reiter (1912), an art manifesto that includes facsimiles of music by the Second Viennese School.

In the summer of 2016, he further developed his interdisciplinary research methods during an internship at the Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main. The research centre, officially inaugurated in the Autumn of 2015, conducts studies at the intersection of the humanities and the natural sciences, in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that impact on aesthetic liking and preferences. He helped conduct studies in the laboratories of the institute for doctoral students and the Music Department’s director, Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann and co-organised the workshop on “Methods in Empirical Music Research”, led by David Huron (Ohio State University). He designed musical stimuli for an fMRI study on neural substrates of musical expectancy and emotions by neuropsycholigist Diana Omigie.

At Yale, Henry plans to pick up threads from his studies at City, notably from Ian Pace’s course on Nineteenth Century Opera and Alexander Lingas’ module on Wagner, Mahler and Schoenberg’s ideational connections. Henry’s research will continue to be interdisciplinary in scope and focus on opera studies, especially that of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with an emphasis on Wagner and the Second Viennese School.

We wish Henry all the best for his future academic ambitions. The Matriculation Ceremony takes place on Thursday, 25 August 2016.

‘Are we all Ethnomusicologists Now?’: video of the debate and other links

The video of the full debate which took place at City University on June 1st, 2016 ‘Are we all Ethnomusicologists Now?’, is now online for all to view.

Participants were Amanda Bayley (Bath Spa University), Tore Tvarnø Lind (Copenhagen University), Laudan Nooshin (City University), Ian Pace (City University) and Michael Spitzer (Liverpool University). The debate was chaired by Alexander Lingas (City University).

The following are some other important links: first, reports and responses to the debate by Rachel Cunniffe and Ben Smith

I have published my own position statement online here.

Nooshin’s position statement and slides can be found here.

And here is a further blog post of mine giving the full context of Paul Harper-Scott’s remarks cited during the debate, and some other reflections.

(A full response to Nooshin’s position statement will follow soon).

This debate has generated much discussion more widely, and hopefully will continue to do so. Many thanks to everyone for taking part.