Category Archives: Outreach

Chi-Chi Nwanoku Delivers the Music Department 2019 Distinguished Lecture

On Tuesday May 28th 2019, the Music Department welcomed Chi-chi Nwanoku, OBE, to present the 2019 Distinguished Lecture.

Chi-chi talked about her work with the Chineke! Foundation, which she established in 2015 with the aim of increasing the representation of Black and ethnic minority musicians in British and European orchestras.

Chi-chi has been an inspirational figure and role model for those working towards greater inclusion, diversity and equality in the classical music world.

As well as her international performing career as a double bass soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player, Chi-chi is a broadcaster, teacher, board member and trustee of numerous organisations. Amongst many broadcasts, she presented a two-part series on BBC Radio 4 in 2015 entitled In Search of the Black Mozart, which explored the stories and music of black composers and musicians from the 18th century.

Chi-chi was awarded the MBE in 2001 and OBE in 2017 for Services to Music.

The talk was followed by a Q&A with the audience.

https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2019/may/chi-chi-nwanoku-obe-to-give-distinguished-lecture-on-improving-diversity-in-orchestras

     

 

Mara Miron, 2nd year BSc student, talks about her current internship post

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!

 

Walls on Walls create new installation for Music Department

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

https://www.wallsonwalls.co.uk

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.

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, writing:

“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.

 

Drs Lingas and Antonopoulos in Romania at the Iași Byzantine Music Festival

“Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre

During the last weekend of September 2017 Alexander Lingas and Spyridon Antonopoulos joined their colleagues in the vocal ensemble Cappella Romana for the inaugural Iași Byzantine Music Festival. The group was invited to Romania to perform its new programme of chant for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross as celebrated in the medieval rite of Hagia Sophia, a product of its participation in the research project Icons of Sound based at Stanford University.  Held before a capacity audience in the “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre, the concert began with hymns in Arabic and Greek sung by the choir of the Hamatoura Monastery in Lebanon. Dr Lingas also joining esteemed colleagues in the field of Byzantine music as a member of the festival’s Scientific Committee, an academic and artistic advisory board.

A video of the complete performance is available here: https://doxologia.ro/evenimente/video-concert-extraordinar-de-muzica-psaltica-la-teatrul-national-din-iasi

Alexander Lingas directs Cappella Romana in Iasi

Spyridon Antonopoulos chants with Mark Powell and David Stutz

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#RussianChantRevival pre-concert lecture in #PDX

Posted by Cappella Romana on Sunday, April 2, 2017

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).