Music Alumni Concert and Reception Evening

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).

Robert Mitchell introducing his set

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.

Clare Hammond

Dr Clare Hammond and Professor Rhian Samuel



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!

Current second and final year students enjoying the reception!


The Department of Music at City is offering two fee waivers for PhD studies commencing in September 2019 or January 2020. Enrolment can be on full-time or part-time basis.

While these fee waivers are open to all, we wish particularly to encourage applicants from under-represented groups at this level, or those considering doctoral studies who have taken non-traditional educational routes.

The Department combines world-leading research with exceptional teaching in performance, composition and musicology. We have one of the highest completion rates per member of staff of any music department in the UK.

For information about our PhD programme please visit:

For details on staff research interests please visit:


What is Offered

These awards will provide a full tuition-fee waiver for UK and EU students for the duration of the programme. Applications from overseas applicants are welcome, but the applicant must make appropriate arrangements to cover the difference between the overseas and UK tuition fee.

As part of our commitment to doctoral student training, you will also be eligible for appointment as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and are likely to be offered teaching-related duties (to a maximum of 150 hours each year for full-time students). This work will be paid in full.


The studentships will be awarded on the basis of outstanding academic potential, and a record of achievement that evidences the capacity to successfully complete a programme of doctoral research.

  • Applicants whose first language is not English must have achieved at least 7.0 in IELTS or a recognised equivalent
  • Applicants must not be currently registered as a doctoral student at City, University of London, or any other academic institution

How to Apply

Applications must be made online using the link to the Music PhD programme page above, and with the materials requested on that page. Applicants are strongly advised to make contact with a potential supervisor prior to making an application.

Closing date: 23.59 on Monday 15th July 2019

For any enquiries, please email

Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum, 20th May 2019

On Monday 20th May, City hosted the bi-annual Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum study day, with speakers from the UK and abroad.

The morning sessions focused on Iran and included papers on Iranian film music, rave culture, experimental musical theatre and Iranian classical music.

The afternoon included papers on Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Muslim communities in Berlin.

The day ended with a drinks reception to mark the publication of Sense and Sadness: Syriac Chant in Aleppo by Tala Jarjour (2018, Oxford University Press).

The day also included a lunchtime musical origami session!


Darci Sprengel (University of Oxford): ‘Theorizing “Quiet”: Atmospheres of Sleep and Political Refusal in Post-Revolution Egypt’





Peter McMurray (University of Cambridge): ‘Listening with the Dead in Muslim Berlin (and Beyond)’





Laudan Nooshin (City, University of London): ‘The Phoenix of Persia: Introducing Primary School Children to Iranian Music’




The Middle East and Central Asia Music Forum has been running since 2007 and is open to researchers, students and anyone interested in the music and culture of the region. In the spirit of fostering dialogue and interdisciplinarity, we hope that the issues discussed at the forum will be of interest to a broad audience, including musicologists, ethnomusicologists and other researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences. In addition, we welcome those working on other aspects of Middle Eastern and Central Asian culture broadly speaking (dance, visual arts, media, film, literature, etc.).

The Forum is convened by Professor Laudan Nooshin, City, University of London ( and Dr Rachel Harris, SOAS, University of London (



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.



Again & Again: Musical Repetition in Aesthetics, Analysis and Experience

Andrew Simmons, Music PhD Student

City Music department recently played host to an international conference investigating the wide-ranging topic of musical repetition. The two-day event, which took place in the last week of April (25–26th) was conceived, organised, and expertly choreographed by the department’s very own Christine Dysers. Christine, who is currently in the final stages of her PhD project, brought together academics from such far-flung universities as Louisiana State University, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and Melbourne University with the aim of stimulating a broad, interdisciplinary conversation about musical repetition at both local and global levels.


Many of the City Music staff kindly chaired sessions, sifted through abstracts (of which there was an overwhelming number), coordinated Skype presentations, and generally helped to ensure the smooth running of the event. Attendees praised it as ‘the first conference I’ve been to that actually ran to schedule!’

Highlights of the conference included keynote presentations by Professor Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis (University of Arkansas) and Professor Tilman Baumgärtel (Hochschule Mainz), a lunchtime recital by pianist Mark Knoop, and evening concerts by the City Pierrot Ensemble and Explore Ensemble.

Congratulations go out to Christine and the Music staff for organising such a wonderful conference!

See full details of the conference here:



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!


City Chamber Choir Trip to Paris, April 2019

by Iona Mitchell, BMus Year 1

On the 15th April, a small group from City’s Chamber Choir travelled to Paris to participate in a concert of joint choirs. The choirs came from all over Europe, including Belgium, Paris, and the UK.

The piece was the Schubert Mass No.6 in in E-flat major (D.950) and was performed as part of the Festival De Printemps PSL. The concert was held in the Grand Amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne which was so beautiful and made the five soloists sounded incredible.

Overall the concert were great fun and an amazing experience to be surrounded by other great singers and to be led by such an enthusiastic conductor.

Thanks to Alex Lingas and Jacob Collins for running the rehearsals and preparing us, and to Alex for accompanying us to Paris!








You can watch a clip from the concert here:

[Festival PSL] ✨Souvenir du concert de mardi 16 avril au Grand Amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne avec les chœurs invités de Cambridge, Londres et Namur 🗣 : la Messe en mi bémol majeur de Schubert a résonné en direction de Notre Dame de Paris, à quelques mètres de là, 🎼 précédée du double Concerto pour alto et clarinette de Max Bruch avec l'Ensemble CONTRASTE 🎻🌼🌸 Le Festival de Printemps PSL a pris fin hier soir avec deux concerts : l'ensemble vocal I Dodici (Cambridge) à l'École normale supérieure – PSL et le chœur de clarinettes de l'IMEP Institut Supérieur de Musique et de Pédagogie à la chapelle du Lycée Henri-IV. 🎉Merci à tous de votre venue et de votre participation au succès de cette 4° édition du Festival💃📆 En attendant le printemps prochain, vous avez rendez-vous avec l'OCPSL, Ravel, Anthiome, Poulenc et Vincent Warnier, le 13 juin en la Cathédrale de Saint-Louis-des-Invalides.🎥🎞 merci à Jean-Luc Votano pour la vidéo

Posted by Orchestre et Chœur Paris Sciences et Lettres on Thursday, 18 April 2019


Interview with Jazz and Improvisation Ensemble Leader, Shirley Smart

Thanks for joining us today, Shirley. Could you start by telling us something about your current performance projects?

Sure. I am currently performing with my trio/quartet, with whom I recently released my first album, ‘Long Story Short’. We have quite a few performances this year, and hopefully a tour next spring. I’m also writing material for my next album, although that may take a while to be ready for performance! Long Story Short is available here: Long Story Short

Other projects which I lead/co-lead are a duo with reeds player James Arben – this is a freely improvised project, mostly as a duo, but sometimes with guests. We have recorded quite a bit of music recently, so may well release an EP or an album with that.

An extension of that project is a quintet, which adds pianist Alexander Hawkins, drummer Jon Scott and bassist Liran Donin. We gave our first gig recently and we all felt it worked, and there will be more coming with that project soon. A freely improvised group is so dependant on implicit understanding and trust between the musicians, so we were all very happy that this worked.

I also have a jazz string trio with violinists Matt Holborn and Richard Jones. This is a relatively new project that we have been trying to put together for about 2 years.The three of us felt that string players in jazz often get overlooked. Matt and Rich are both amazing jazz violinists, but also very different players so it’s an interesting balance.

Another group I play in is Issie Barratt’s band Interchange, which is an all-female dectet that she founded in 2016, in order to address the imbalance of gender in the jazz world. We were all commissioned to write a work for the group, and the album ‘Donna’s Secret’ is due for release later this year.

My final, and one of my favourite bands ever, is the trio ‘Sawa’, with vocalist Alya Al-Sultani and pianist Clemens Poetzch. This was founded in about 2015, and is a unique synthesis of Iraqi folk music, jazz, chamber music and free improvisation. As Clemens lives in Germany, we don’t get to play together that often, but I love it when we do! Our EP is here : Sawa EP

What is the most exciting country/venue/space that you have played at?

I suppose, having lived in Jerusalem for 10 years, that would have to count in its entirety as the most exciting (and challenging) place to have existed musically in. It was incredibly fertile and I was involved in all sorts of things, from jazz to classical Arabic and Turkish music, all of which inform my musical activities now.

What is the highlight of your teaching career so far?

It’s difficult to pin-point one particular thing, as I get different things out of different contexts, and they all present different challenges! I really enjoy teaching at the RCM Junior Department, where I do a lot of improvisation work, since this is very marginalised in classical education – although I think it is better than it was 15 or so years ago.

A couple of particular highlights were a workshop I gave for Jazzlines in Birmingham a few years ago – the students were so keen and eager to learn! We worked on a North African tune completely by ear, and performed it at the end of the session in the Symphony Hall Foyer. The group included Xhosa Cole, who recently won the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year. He came up at the end and extracted a list of everything I knew about world music – he was so keen to absorb everything he could, which is an absolutely fantastic attitude to have!!

I also had Jacob Collier in some of my improvisation classes at the Royal College of Music when he was about 14, and I remember him turning a large metal cupboard into a drum kit for one lesson! He has the type of mind and creative ability that was always going to flourish, but it was an interesting experience to see it that young, and watch it in action.

 If you could give one piece of advice  to music students, what would it be?

Learn to use your time well!! And always try to be specific about what you are practising, and what needs working on. Reserve some time for developmental work, which can take time, rather than only learning stuff for upcoming gigs. I guess that’s 2 pieces – but never mind!

What would you recommend students do beyond practising their instrument/voice and rehearsing?

Again, learn to use your time well. And be on time for things. The music profession, especially the session world, is very highly time-constrained, and being on time is a central part of your professionalism and a really good habit to get into early. So much is about taking responsibility for yourself, being respectful to others, and learning to discuss any issues – musical or otherwise – calmly and professionally as well.

How has the music world changed since you were a student?

This is a huge question, as things are very different in different parts of the music world. I think in many ways the creative scene has become more open. There’s a recognised renaissance of British Jazz, and some really exciting bands around, as well as some really interesting cross-over-y type projects. Also, the development of the technological side of things – sites like YouTube have increased access to music and made releasing videos much easier.

I don’t want to get into the impact of streaming and so forth, although that’s definitely a topic worth discussing, and any students who are making and releasing their own music should absolutely be aware of the models of companies like Spotify, which is terrible for independent artists, although it’s also a really useful resource. Bandcamp is much better for musicians, as most of the revenue from sales actually goes to the bands, so I now try and make sure that as many people as possible know this. People tend to buy music from iTunes or other sites because it is easy and familiar, but it’s awful for musicians as the artist gets something like 3% of the revenue – as opposed to 85% from Bandcamp. This is a big change since I was a student.

My website is here : Shirley Smart

Meet our Instrumental Teachers: 10 Minutes with Richard Uttley

The third in our series of interviews with visiting instrumental and vocal teachers at City features pianist Richard Uttley.

Many thanks for joining us, Richard. Could you start by telling our students something about your current performance projects?

One unusual project I’m particularly enjoying at the moment is playing Erik Satie’s ‘Entr’acte’ music from his ballet Relâche, which was written to accompany a silent film by René Clair. I’m playing it in the piano duet version with my friend and collaborator Kate Whitley, and we’re performing it live with the film. We spent a long time experimenting to work out how we could bring out as much subtle detail in the timing between the music and visuals as possible; it was a labour of love but that makes it so enjoyable for us to share the result with audiences. As well as being a pianist, Kate is also a composer and she’s writing me a piece that I’ll premiere in a recital at City this spring. Other things I’ve got on the go this season include the Gershwin Piano Concerto, which I learnt over summer and played in the Queen Elizabeth Hall recently, and  a cycle of all ten Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin for a tour in Scotland next month.

What is the most exciting country you’ve played in?   I’ve toured in China several times in recent years, and have given recitals in over twenty cities there. I didn’t get to spend a long time in any of them, but to play and travel in a totally different culture was a great experience and one I feel very lucky to have had through music.

What is the most memorable concert or other musical event that you have attended?   It was a concert at LSO St Luke’s (just round the corner from City, in fact) that was part of a Barbican festival in 2007 focussed on the music of Thomas Adès. I wasn’t living in London at the time but made a special trip to attend this concert as I was obsessed with Adès’s music back then. The concert included, amongst other things, the composer himself playing his mesmerising Traced Overhead (I had no idea until then what an incredible pianist as well as composer Adès is), and a very starry Les Noces, with Peter Donohoe, Rolf Hind and Katia and Marielle Labèque on the four pianos and an amazing group of Russian singers called the Pokrovsky Ensemble. If I could go back in time to hear concerts again I’d go to that one every week!

What is the highlight of your music teaching career so far?   I started teaching when I moved to London in 2008 and I still have one of my very first pupils, who was a complete beginner when I began working with him. He’s still young but now an excellent pianist and fine musician with genuine curiosity for music of many kinds. Not a highlight in the sense of a one-off event, but I consider this a real achievement.

What was the most important thing you learnt from your own teachers?   How to control sound at the piano, and why that’s so important.

If you could give one piece of advice to music students, what would it be?   Listen to lots of music, and go to concerts. I learnt a huge amount from going to as much as I could while I was a student (and still do in fact), and even from page turning for other pianists! I think there was a time, in generations gone by, when everyone knew a lot of classical music simply because it was what was played at home and was talked about with knowledge and enthusiasm by many people. Unfortunately, today it’s much more likely that you’re going to have to find out about these things for yourself. The same rewards are there at the end of course, but you’ll probably have to be more proactive to find them.

What was the best thing about your own course when you were a student?   Individual teachers that I encountered. My analysis tutor was a PhD student at the time and I was so inspired by the way he thought about music and discussed it with us. When I got the opportunity to make my first recording I asked him to write me a piece – it was based on dance music and all my friends loved it, so it became a proper party piece for me. His name is Chris Willis and he recently scored Armando Iannucci’s film The Death of Stalin; the score’s all pastiche of 1950s music from the Soviet Union and has been winning worldwide acclaim so I’m quite chuffed to have spotted Chris’s genius early on!

What would you most recommend students do beyond practising their instrument/voice and rehearsing?   Make the most of being in London. If you come to study at City you’ll be in the heart of an incredibly vibrant city, with world class food, theatre, concerts, museums and galleries – to name but a few things – and this is a great opportunity to have experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Students get cheap tickets too!

Thank you!


Richard will be performing at City at the end of April



10 Minutes with Madeleine Mitchell

The second of our series of short interviews with visiting music staff at City features leading international violinist Madeleine Mitchell.

Many thanks for joining us, Madeleine. Could you start by telling us about your current performance projects.

I’ve just completed a 3-week tour of the USA which included three performances of the Brahms Double Concerto and two concerts in San Francisco – a trio concert and my recital programme ‘A Century of British Music’ ranging from Elgar and John Ireland to Grace Williams (1906-77) and a piece written for me in 1993 by Michael Nyman. In coming weeks, I’m focusing on Grace Williams’  Violin Sonata in several concerts, coinciding with the release by Naxos of my latest album of her chamber music, all premiere recordings, with my London Chamber Ensemble, recorded here in the Performance Space at City. In fact, the album release is this coming Friday at City:


What is the most exciting place you’ve performed in?

I’ve played in over 50 countries so there are many exciting places to choose from, including the extraordinary German Cultural Centre in Madagascar (at the invitation of the British Ambassador), the Sydney Opera House and representing the UK at a festival of British Culture in the Lincoln Center, New York just after 9/11. New York is particularly dear to my heart since I was Fulbright/ITT Fellow there years ago.


What is the most memorable concert or other musical event that you have attended?

I love opera, and Mozart in particular, so probably it has to be hearing Le Nozze Di Figaro for the first time, with Kiri te Kanawa’s beautiful soprano voice as the Countess, at the Royal Opera House.


What is the highlight of your music teaching career so far?

Devising and running Performance Seminars at the Royal College of Music, mentoring the graduate cohort of solo/ensemble instrumentalists for the last 10 years.


What were the most important things you learned from your own teachers?

(a) that to be a complete musician, you have to be open to the other arts

(b) that your body is your instrument

(c) as the great Jascha Heifetz put it: ‘to be a great artist you need the nerves of a bullfighter and the concentration of a buddhist monk’


What is the most important advice you would offer music students?

To make the most of all opportunities.


What was the best thing about your own course when you were a student?

I particularly enjoyed studying for a Master’s degree in Performance and Literature at the Eastman School, New York, where there were choices beyond the 1/3 in violin performance. I was able to study courses in the history of American architecture, as well as music history, chamber music, and so on.


What are your other major interests beyond music?

Art, poetry and travelling,


What would you most recommend that music students do beyond practising their instrument/voice and rehearsing?

Physical exercise, for instance, swimming, cycling, pilates, walking in the park, dancing (with earplugs!), going to museums and art galleries and other cultural events.


How has the music world changed your student days?

Unfortunately music education is no longer free and available to all which is a great tragedy. However, technical standards have risen and there is greater internationalism.


Madeleine introduces and performs excerpts from her album of chamber music by Grace Williams at 6pm on 1st March at City’s Performance Space, with a drinks reception afterwards. Reserve free tickets for the events here

Madeleine Mitchell is a leading international violinist, who has performed as soloist and chamber musician in over 50 countries, including with major orchestras. She has made many recordings, some of which have been nominated for BBC Music Awards, and has collaborated with composers including James MacMillan and Michael Nyman. As well as teaching at City, University of London, Madeleine is also a Professor at the Royal College of Music

Find our more about Madeleine’s work at: