Research seminar archive

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This is an archive of research seminars and other events that have already taken place.

Elizabeth Llewellyn. Black Womxn in the Performing and Digital Arts. 26 February 2021 5pm GMT (6pm CET, 12pm EST, 9am PST) Royal Holloway, University of London[edit]

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London-born soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio, supported by the Peter Moores Foundation. After completing the ENO Opera Works training programme, she created the role of Ludovina in the premiere of Glyndebourne Festival’s new opera The Yellow Sofa.

Elizabeth made her operatic debut as Mimì in Jonathan Miller’s production of La Bohème at the English National Opera, which led to her being named as “Best newcomer in opera in 2010” by The Telegraph. She returned to the ENO the following year, stepping-in on opening night as the Countess in their new production of The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Fiona Shaw; a role which earned her uniformly glowing reviews.

Elizabeth begins the 2020/21 season with her company debut with Scottish Opera, singing Mimì in a socially distanced outdoor production of La Bohème - one of the first operas to be staged in the UK following the Covid-19 crisis. She also sings Mozart Requiem at the London Coliseum for English National Opera’s first live indoor performance since lockdown, and will return to ENO to make her debut in the role of Ellen Orford Peter Grimes. Later this season Elizabeth releases her debut solo album Songs of the Heart and Hereafter, alongside pianist Simon Lepper, focusing on the work of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his contemporaries. Prior to the release, Elizabeth will perform the programme in recitals at Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh and for her Wigmore Hall debut, broadcast online and on BBC Radio 3 live in-concert. Further performances this season include ‘Easter Hymn’ from Cavalleria Rusticana with Opera North in a live broadcast from Leeds Town Hall, and Bess Porgy & Bess in a semi-staged production at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.

Michael Beckerman (New York University). From the Monkey Mountains to the Suicide Bridge: The Hidden Subjects of the Haas Brothers. 10 March 5pm GMT. Colloquium Research Series, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, UK[edit]

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At some point in the early 1920’s Pavel Haas took a vacation in the Czech Moravian Highlands, known colloquially as the “Monkey Mountains.” A few years later he referenced this experience in the programme for his second string quartet, the jazzy final movement of which is suddenly interrupted by a song he had written for his lover. More than a decade later he worked on a symphony, unfinished when he was transported to Terezin, which includes “hidden” quotes from the St. Wenceslaus Hymn, the Horst Wessel Lied, a 15th century Hussite war song and Chopin’s Funeral March. While in Terezin, he composed a choral work with a frontispiece that looks like musical notes, but actually spells out a message in Hebrew. Then, in the summer before he was transported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered, both his Songs on Chinese Poetry and his Study for Strings were performed (the latter memorialized in the infamous Terezin propaganda film) and each had its own reference to other works. Fast forward six years. Pavel’s younger brother Hugo, in the 1930’s a kind of Czech Cary Grant, has escaped from Europe and made enough money as a character actor in Hollywood to start his own B-movie production company. One of his very first noir films, Girl on the Bridge has its own hidden secret, and the secret is…his brother Pavel. This talk explores the connection between the brothers, presents examples of their intertextual framing, considers the question of artistic secrets, and argues that some works were created for an audience of one.

Michael Beckerman is Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor and Collegiate Professor of Music at New York University where he is also head of the Department of Music. He has written several books on Czech topics and has just edited, with Paul Boghossian a volume on issues around classical music. He served as Distinguished Professor of History at Lancaster University and the Leonard Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic. He is currently working on a volume titled The Doctrine of One.

The Underrepresentation of Women of Colour in the Classical Music Industry, and How We Can Enact Change: Part of 2021 MUSICA Festival. 11 March 4:30pm GMT (5:30pm CET, 11:30am EST, 8:30am PST) University of Manchester[edit]

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As part of the student-led Musica festival, we welcome guest speakers Rebeca Omorida (founder of the African Concert Series), Natalia Franklin Pierce (Executive Director of nonclassical) and Dr Ellie Chan (Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Manchester) to discuss the challenges facing the Classical music industry regarding diversity and inclusion. Two of the panelists will present twenty-minute talks on the topic, followed by a roundtable discussion with the rest of the panel. Questions from the audience will conclude the session. Led by Anne Hyland.

This is a live, interactive session which will be hosted on an online video conferencing platform. People external to the University of Manchester are warmly welcome; please email Anne Hyland (email address in link) in advance (by 12 noon on the day in question) with the session title in the email subject and your name in the body of the email in order to be admitted onto the Zoom call. Sessions begin at 4:30pm GMT and last 90 minutes.

Veza Fernandez. Tremor – Video performance and artist talk. 11 March 4pm GMT (5pm CET, 11am EST, 8am PST) Fragility of Sound - KUG University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria[edit]

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Chikako Morishita. Composing ‘Narrative Dissolution’: Framing Subjectivity in Music Composition. 11 March 4pm GMT (5pm CET, 11am EST, 8am PST) Fragility of Sound - KUG University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria[edit]

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Frances Wilkins (University of Aberdeen). Engaging Community and Landscape: The Role of Sacred Singing as a Soundscape to a Way of Life. 11 March 4pm GMT (5pm CET, 11am EST, 8am PST). University of Aberdeen[edit]

Further information and meeting link

Scotland is home to an incredible wealth and variety of sacred song traditions with unique and multi-dimensional histories. In North-West Scotland, Gaelic psalmody is recognised as a highly stylised and unique vocal tradition, and there are numerous other practices making a profound contribution to the cultural lives of those living in the region. Likewise in North-East Scotland, the close connection between the fishing industry and gospel hymnody is unequivocal and this has fed directly into the development of a distinct style of musical worship.

Drawing on specific examples from fieldwork conducted in Northern Scotland since 2005 and placing contemporary sacred singing within a historical framework, the aim of this seminar is to discuss the processes by which specific regional repertoires and styles have developed as a response to the cultural and occupational landscape, and as an expression of cultural memory through performance. As with the Gaelic language some of these traditions are considered in steep decline.

The seminar will go on to explore moves that have been made to incorporate sacred singing into vernacular contexts of composition and performance as artistic responses to declining use as a form of worship. How has the performance of sacred singing been modified as it has been taken outside the church, and how has it affected the aesthetics of the performance?

William Stanford Abbiss (Victoria University of Wellington): Sounds of the Past: Music in 2010s Period Drama & Melissa Beattie (Independent scholar): ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’: Death in Paradise’s Use of Reggae. 11 March 7:30pm GMT (11:30 PST, 13:30 CST, 14:30 EST, 20:30 CET). British Audio-Visual Research Network (BARN) Virtual Colloquia[edit]

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Sounds of the Past: Music in 2010s Period Drama (Will Stanford Abbiss, Victoria University of Wellington)

In my PhD thesis, I studied six period dramas from 2010s television: Upstairs Downstairs (BBC/Masterpiece, 2010), Dancing on the Edge (BBC, 2013), The Crown (Netflix, 2016-present), The Living and the Dead (BBC/BBC America, 2016), Dickensian (BBC, 2015-16) and Parade’s End (BBC/HBO, 2012). While each of these dramas uses diegetic and non-diegetic music in distinctive ways, I was not able to directly draw the connections between them in the context of my establishment of a post-heritage critical framework (Abbiss, 2020). This presentation will aim to address this, outlining the characteristics of the music deployed in each drama and identifying how these operate alongside visual and narrative elements. Moments will be identified where music evokes spectacle and nostalgia, but also where it helps to undermine these modes. For example, Dancing on the Edge utilises 1930s-style jazz music performed within the drama; this provides spectacle and establishes the serial’s cultural moment, but takes on a more troubling aspect as the narrative approaches its climax. The Crown’s music, meanwhile, develops through multiple composers over successive seasons, as its narrative moves through the decades of the twentieth century and further away from traditional period drama characteristics. Analysing elements such as these will allow me to come to a hypothesis on the role sound can play in contributing to period drama innovations, which can be considered alongside the broader conclusions of my doctoral work.

‘You Can Get It If You Really Want:’ Death in Paradise’s Use of Reggae (Melissa Beattie, Independent Scholar)

British/French co-production Death in Paradise (BBC 2011-) has become one of the flagship series of BBC1. Set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie and filmed on Guadeloupe, the series frequently uses reggae amongst other perceived-local styles as diegetic and non-diegetic music. Reggae is historically a music of resistance, specifically resistance to oppression by white colonial power structures (King et al, 2002). The premise of Death in Paradise follows a series of white, male, British or Irish DIs who take over the local Black police force. The DS is a series of Black Frenchwomen who are either the love interest for the DI or an extremely supportive subordinate. While the perpetrators are a mix of locals, tourists and foreign residents, the Black supporting characters, subordinates all, constantly point out how brilliant and wonderful their white male, British or Irish DI is and how much they depend on his expertise. That a British/French co-production uses reggae to reinforce an elided pan-Caribbean location can be read as stereotypical. When added to a British/French series such as this, with what can be read as colonialist discourses, the readings can become problematic. This paper, part of an intended-larger project which will ultimately also use audience research, examines the argument that, rather than simply being part of the series’ banal diegetic nationalism (i.e., the series’ flagging itself as a particular identity/-ties, Beattie 2020) the use of reggae in this context can be read as subverting the genre’s original anti-colonialist context and supporting a (perceived) colonialist reading for the series. In 2018 Elizabeth made her US debut with Seattle Opera as Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, a role that she went to sing in her house debut at the Metropolitan Opera last season. In more recent years, Elizabeth has established herself as a notable lyrico spinto soprano, singing the title roles in Verdi’s Luisa Miller for English National Opera, Aida at the Theater Bielefeld, Manon Lescaut with Opera Holland Park, as well as Puccini’s Tosca and the role of Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin, both at the Theater Magdeburg, Germany. Elizabeth was also nominated for “Singer of the Year 2013” in OpernWelt magazine for her portrayal of Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccangera; a role she later performed with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra. Elizabeth also sang the title role of Suor Angelica and Giorgetta Il Tabarro for the Royal Danish Opera, and returned there to make her acclaimed debut in the title role of Madama Butterfly. Other roles include Margherita/Elena in Boito’s Mefistofele with Chelsea Opera Group. Magda de Civry La Rondine (Opera Holland Park); Fiordiligi Così fan tutte (Theater Magdeburg; Opera Holland Park), Contessa Le Nozze di Figaro (ENO; Opera Holland Park); Governess The Turn of the Screw (Arcola Theatre); Donna Elvira Don Giovanni (Theater Magdeburg; Bergen National Opera); Bess Porgy and Bess (Royal Danish Opera); title role in The Merry Widow (Cape Town Opera) and the title role in The Iris Murder (Hebrides Ensemble).

Elizabeth’s concert appearances have included Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Richard Farnes, a Rosenblatt Recital, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Esa-Pekka Salonen, Verdi Requiem, Britten War Requiem, Tippett A Child of Our Time with Ryan Wigglesworth, a Gala Concert with Joseph Calleja recorded for Classic FM, and a live performance of Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder on BBC Radio 3 with Donald Runnicles/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Recently, Elizabeth has recorded Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony with BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the role of Eigen in Elgar’s Caractacus for Hyperion, both under the baton of Martyn Brabbins. Elizabeth won the inaugural Voice of Black Opera Competition / Sir Willard White Award in 2009, and she was the opera nominee for the prestigious Breakthrough Award at the 2013 Times/Sky Arts Southbank Awards.

John Rink (University of Cambridge). The Evaluation of Musical Experience. 2 March 2021 4pm GMT (5pm CET, 11am EST, 8am PST) Royal Holloway, University of London[edit]

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John Rink is Professor of Musical Performance Studies in the Cambridge Faculty of Music, and Fellow and Director of Studies in Music at St John's College. He studied at Princeton University, King's College London, and the University of Cambridge, where his doctoral research was on the evolution of tonal structure in Chopin's early music and its relation to improvisation. He also holds the Concert Recital Diploma and Premier Prix in piano from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He specialises in the fields of performance studies, theory and analysis, and 19th-century studies, and has published six books with Cambridge University Press, including The Practice of Performance: Studies in Musical Interpretation (1995), Chopin: The Piano Concertos (1997), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (2002), and Annotated Catalogue of Chopin's First Editions (with Christophe Grabowski; 2010). He is a co-editor of Chopin Studies 2 (with Jim Samson; 2004) and the Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (with Nicholas Cook, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and Eric Clarke; 2009); he is also General Editor of the five-book series Studies in Musical Performance as Creative Practice, which Oxford University Press published in 2017/18. He co-edited one of the books - Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance - in collaboration with Helena Gaunt and Aaron Williamon.

He was an Associate Director of the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM), and he chaired the Steering Committees of the AHRC's 'Beyond Text' and 'Landscape and Environment' Strategic Programmes; he also served on the AHRC's Advisory Board and chaired the Science in Culture Advisory Group. He sits on the editorial board of Music and Letters and Musicologist; is on the Advisory Panels of Music Analysis, the Institute of Musical Research, and several UK research projects; and has been a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College. He holds several honorary appointments, including Visiting Professor in the Department of Music, Royal Holloway, University of London; Guest Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; Visiting Professor in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London; and Guest Professor, Shanghai Normal University. In 2012/13 he was Ong Teng Cheong Visiting Professor in Music at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore.

He was a member of the jury of the XVII International Chopin Competition held in October 2015 in Warsaw, and he will serve again on the jury for the XVIII Chopin Competition in October 2020. In 2017 he was invited to join the Society for Musicology in Ireland as a Corresponding Member, and he also became the inaugural Director of Cambridge Digital Humanities, holding this role for two years.

This is a live, interactive session which will be hosted on an online video conferencing platform. To join us, please complete this short form (link embedded). Access details for the session will be emailed to you on the day of the event.

Aistė Vaitkevičiūtė. Emerging in the Process: Alternative Musical Thinking Recalling Archaic (Female) Existence. 4 March 4pm GMT (5pm CET, 11am EST, 8am PST) Fragility of Sound - KUG University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria[edit]

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There has already been a long debate concerning the inhibited role of women regarding the development of Western music tradition. While men are usually being granted for creating the great opuses, grounding the basic rules as well as reasoning theoretical fundaments of the art of sounds, female musical practices are often confined to accessory role, i.e., accompanying other activities (e.g., as an element of courteous manner, a part of a ritual or exhilarating a process of work.). This specific area is, however, worth of special attention and is undeservedly left in the periphery of many researchers construing the framework of music history. Notwithstanding, uncovering the so far obscure field may reveal alternative approaches from both extrinsic (socio-cultural context) as well as intrinsic (structural aspects of music) perspectives.

This particular domain may be represented by numerous archaic musical practices throughout the different cultures (Balkan, Slavic, Ainu, Baltic, etc.) which mainly served as accompanying activities to the female daily works. A unique manifestation (among others) may also be detected in the archaic Lithuanian folk genre called sutartinės integrating features of particular activity through many different levels. The monotonous character based on canonical repetition of narrow musical formulas, polyphonic intertwining between two voices resulting in constant recurrence of a second interval, a specific tuning inducing a psycho-acoustic effect of maximum roughness (also called Schwebungsdiaphonie) as well as onomatopoeic nature of meaningless—all these elements somehow reflect the overall nature of the activities women were commonly engaged in (processing linen, cutting rye, grinding grain, etc.). Paradoxically, these ancient forms of musical practice are somehow recalled in the most recent manifestations of music. Some Lithuanian female composers (such as Justė Janulytė, Ugnė Giedraitytė, Justina Repečkaitė) convey the features of monotonous processes into their own musical material, thus distancing themselves from the established standards of a Western musical work-opus. In this paper-presentation, this paradoxical link is inquired while analysing and comparing aspects of musical development, rhythmic and pitch structure, sound effects as well as references beyond the musical domain in both archaic and contemporary instances. The significance of female contribution into the Western musical tradition is exposed which can find its revitalisation in nowadays composing arena.

Aistė Vaitkevičiūtė is a Lithuanian composer and a researcher of a young generation. She got her master degree in composition and music pedagogy at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and she is working on her doctoral thesis at the moment there. The focus of her research is timbre and its function in compositional practice of the second half of the 20th–21st centuries. She is also one of the coordinators of the annual conference Principles of Music Composing (2018–2020, Vilnius) as well as an assistant co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal following the conference (2016–2020). Aistė Vaitkevičiūtė’s interests encompass such fields as cultural and mentality studies or philosophy in relation to musical field. She also got a bachelor’s degree in Cultural History and Anthropology at Vilnius University.

Sarah Weiss. Precarious Resistance: On Women Singing Transgression in Ritual Contexts. 4 March 4pm GMT (5pm CET, 11am EST, 8am PST) Fragility of Sound - KUG University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria[edit]

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In some cultural contexts, even in those that are most restrictive and closed, women can be observed to exploit the ambiguity generated by performance in ritual contexts – whether weddings, funerals, or the fulfillment of personal vows – to express their opinions or to do things they would not normally be allowed to do. Through lamentation, mockery, or the embodied defiance of normative behaviors, women performers generate (an ephemeral) agency for themselves through the articulation and mastery of their emotions in and through their performance. Using case studies from India, Greece, Iran, and Italy, in this presentation I will suggest that expressing these kinds of transgressive sentiments through the performance of music and dance ameliorates the disturbances that might otherwise be caused by the articulation of such words and actions alone. Different from performances for entertainment in these same cultures, the music and dance in these ritually sanctioned contexts shield women from the opprobrium that might normally be heaped on them for expressing themselves in public, visible not only to women but also to men. The protection occurs precisely because the performative moments are temporary and contained by the liminality of the cultural moment. In these contexts, the limited nature of the performative moment actually provides additional freedom for the performers to communicate much more than they would normally be allowed to do in daily life. Any ambiguities about their character or propriety that might otherwise be generated by their performing music and dance on stage or in public, without the shepherding presence of their male family members, are, ironically, ameliorated by the performance itself. The fragility of this kind of performed agency is precisely what makes it powerful.

Privatdozentin Dr. Sarah Weiss (PhD, MA – New York University, BA – University of Rochester/ Eastman School of Music) is a scholar working in Southeast Asian cultures and performance, gender studies, postcoloniality, and hybridity studies. She has recently (2018) finished a term as Associate Professor in the Humanities and Inaugural Rector of Saga Residential College at Yale-NUS College, a new liberal arts and sciences college in Singapore. She joined the Institute for Ethnomusicology at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz as a senior faculty member and researcher in March 2018. She completed her habilitation in January 2019 with a new book entitled, Ritual Soundings: Women Performers and World Religions published in 2019 by the University of Illinois Press in their New Perspectives on Gender and Music Series. Her earlier and continuing research focuses on the cultural and musical analysis of Javanese gamelan performance, in particular old-style wayang. She has been leading Javanese Gamelan Nyai Rara Saraswati at Kunstuniversität Graz since September 2018.

Jean Beers. Empathy in collaborative improvisation. 16 March 9:30am GMT (5:30pm CET, 12:30pm EST, 9:30am PST) Weekly Research Seminar - University of Graz, Austria[edit]

All links to our talks will be published here

In the case study Empathy in Collaborative Improvisation (Experiment: Dancer/Choreographer – Pianist/Composer), an attempt is made to merge two antagonistic aesthetic concepts through transdisciplinary methods of communicative improvisation, with the quest for the meaning through communal presence. Permitting forms of absence through reduction in the stylistic approach, the target lies in the journey towards the development of a shared empathy in artistic communication, not in reaching a specifically delineated goal. The endpoint, therefore, is not the creation of a common language but the path itself. This attempt of achieving a shared empathy is the subject of this case study and my long-term research project.

Jean Beers, both a concert pianist and composer, researches empathy in artistic collaborations. As Professor for Artistic Research and Head of Keyboard, Conducting, Composition at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna, she has published in academia and performed internationally. Being passionate and innovative, she is an avid advocate of an interdisciplinary journey into the arts.