Tag Archives: performance

City Summer Sounds: 5 minutes with Joanna Bailie



On Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th June Joanna Bailie brings her camera obscura inpsired installation to City Summer Sounds festival. We managed to find some time to chat to her about the work as she makes her final preparations:

Your installation ‘Northampton Square’ employs a large camera obscura. For those that don’t know, how does a camera obscura work?

Camera obscura means “dark room” in Latin, but not the kind of dark room in which one develops photographs. In fact it’s a very large version of the inside of a camera — a dark space with a hole cut in one side to let the light (and the image) through, plus a surface onto which to project this image. It works because light travels in straight lines. Of course I only have a projection screen, not a surface covered in chemicals that react to the light, so I cannot preserve any images, they must be experienced live by the audience.

You’ve had a number of works in the past few years focusing on the concept of a camera obscura. What was it that drew you to this medium?

Yes, perhaps I’m a little obsessed. I saw my first camera obscura at an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery on art and illusion about 10 years ago. It was a shed sitting outside the building with a view on Waterloo Bridge. I didn’t know what a camera obscura was at that time, and I was quite taken aback by the image of London in motion, upside down. There was a peculiar quality to the image — I thought it was the most vivid thing I had ever seen. It’s absolutely pure projection of continuous reality, unlike a film with its 24 images per second. A camera obscura has no frames, it’s way beyond HD. It has a level of resolution that HD will never attain. I never get tired of making camera obscuras nor of the effect they have (on me).

Before this installation I made two pieces using a camera obscura, the first with a German scenographer called Christoph Ragg and the second with a string trio. It’s important to say that both these pieces used a theatrical camera obscura, meaning that the bright space that was projected into the dark one, was an interior and thus had to be lit by a lot of theatre spots in order to be bright enough to create a good image. Northampton Square will be lit by the sun of course.

The audience gets a very intimate experience here, getting right inside the camera itself. What do you hope an audience member will gain from ‘Northampton Square’?

First of all I hope, like me, they’ll enjoy the incredibly vivid quality of the image. It’s not intended to be a didactic work at all, but people often end up learning about how a camera works for the first time and they can’t believe that all it takes is a dark and light space with a hole between. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, you might expect the hole to simply let a ray of light into the dark room, which makes what happens that much more amazing. The sound is another thing altogether. It’s a bit more intimate and complex and makes use of a freezing process where the live sound is periodically frozen into a sustained sound. The intention is to make the audience listen to the live sound in a different way, to hear it as a potential music and to experience the contrast between it and the image. The sound is broken up, discrete and abridged while the image, as I’ve already mentioned, is pure continuity.

This installation in particular plays on the boundaries between music and non-music, and unlike the previous camera obscura works relinquishes a certain amount of control to the world outside the camera. Is this balance of music and non-music something that you have focused on before, and what inspired you to focus on this?

The idea of using real life as the basis for some kind of artistic narrative has been the basis of many of my recent works using field recordings. But of course with field recordings you can select what you use from all the sound you’ve captured. In the installation the sound and image are always at the mercy of what happens because they are live. My idea is to try to compose the real life coming into the installation by making a score: a set of (almost) live sound manipulations that the computer has to perform on the microphone feed. The score is quite elaborate and works fairly well regardless of what is going on outside. Occasionally something very special happens at exactly the right time and it’s all just chance (by the way, I recommend coming to see/hear the installation exactly on the hour for reasons that will become obvious!). You could say that the installation is all about creating a frame for reality via the projection screens that physically frame the image, and the computer manipulations that successively frame and unframe the sound.

What’s next for you and the camera obscura project?

Well Northampton Square will be the third incarnation of the installation (the first and second were in Brussels and Belfast). The fourth is set for Brussels again during the Tuned City Festival. That one will look onto a very busy road and will be very different from Northampton Square. Following that I’ll be creating a theatre piece about condensing the last 100 years of history with a German theatre-maker and actress called Katja Dryer, and working on my PhD of course!


You can find out more about Joanna Bailie here: http://joannabailie.com/

The installation ‘Northampton Square’ will be open between the hours of 12am and 6pm in Northampton Square Bandstand on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th June 2013.

For more information about City Summer Sounds head to: http://www.city.ac.uk/city-summer-sounds

Or follow us on facebook: http://facebook.com/CitySummerSounds




BMus graduand Alexandra George awarded major scholarship from Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation

Alexandra GeorgeClass of 2012 BMus graduand Alexandra George has been awarded a major scholarship from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to fund her graduate studies at the London School of Musical Theatre.

Staving off fierce competition, Alex underwent a rigorous audition procedure that included a callback with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s celebrated casting director David Grindrod.

The London School of Musical Theatre is an elite institution that nurtures exceptional talent through intensive training with industry practitioners, offering them a unique path into the musical theatre profession.

While at City, Alex benefitted from solo performance tuition with a professor from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and wrote her final-year dissertation on the current status of West End musical theatre under the supervision of Dr Christopher Wiley.

Ben Schoeman features in 90th birthday celebration of South African composer Stefans Grové

Ben SchoemanDMA student and pianist Ben Schoeman has found himself in great demand during the celebrations of the 90th birthday of one of South Africa’s foremost composers, Stefans Grové, on 23 July 2012.

At the Stefans Grové Symposium in Bloemfontein, South Africa on 10-12 August, Ben will give the world premiere performances of two new works by Grové: My Jaargetye/My Seasons (Piano Suite, 2012) and the Piano Quintet (A Venda Legend, 2012). Ben will also present a lecture recital on the composer’s piano music.

Ben was also recently invited to conduct an interview with Stefans Grové as guest journalist for the ClassicSA website: http://www.classicsa.co.za/site/features/view/classicsa_composer_stefans_grove_90/

Ben Schoeman is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Ronan O’Hora and at City University London with Dr Christopher Wiley, preparing a thesis entitled ‘Pedagogical Elements in the Piano Works of Stefans Grové and their Potential Value in the Education of Pianists in South Africa’.

DMA student Annie Yim in Val Tidone International Music Competition and London concerts

Annie Yim
DMA student and pianist Annie Yim recently participated in the Val Tidone International Music Competition, and progressed to the semi-final round for the ‘Silvio Bengalli’ Piano Prize.

This month, Annie features in two Concordia Foundation chamber music concerts in London on 8 August (St. James’s Piccadilly) and 21 August (St. Martin-in-the Fields).

For further details and programmes, please see the following webpage links: http://www.concordiafoundation.com/concerts/edgar-bailey-violin-annie-yim-piano

Hong Kong-born Canadian pianist Annie Yim has broadcast live on CBC Radio 2 in Canada, BBC Radio 3 and Portuguese Radio Antena 2. By invitation of pianist Angela Hewitt, Annie performed at the 2011 Trasimeno Music Festival Young Artists Concert in Italy.  Increasingly in demand as a soloist and chamber musician in the UK and Europe, Annie has performed in concert series and music festivals including Chelsea Schubert Festival (London), Dean and Chadlington Summer Music Festival (Norfolk), Gaia International Music Festival (Portugal), and Geneva Music Festival (Switzerland).  Annie won the CBC Debut Competition (Canada), Christopher Duke Piano Recital Competition (UK), Concordia Foundation’s Serena Nevill Award (UK), and Friends of Chamber Music Competition (Canada). She studies piano with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and musicological research with Dr Christopher Wiley at City University London. 

Ben Schoeman awarded top honours in the Ibla Grand Prize Competition, Sicily

Ben Schoeman and Anzél GerbertookDMA student and pianist Ben Schoeman and his duo partner, cellist Anzél Gerbertook, have been awarded the joint first grand prize in the Ibla Grand Prize International Music Competition in Sicily.

The prize includes a concert at the Kurt Weill Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York along with other concerts in the USA.

Further information is to be found here:  http://www.classicsa.co.za/site/features/view/schoeman_gerber_earn_top_honours_in_sicily/
http://www.city-maps.it/focus/proclamati-i-vincitori-dellibla-grand-prize (in Italian)
http://www.beeld.com/Vermaak/Nuus/SA-duo-verower-musiekprys-20120724 (in Afrikaans)