Performance/Research Series

In 2017-18, this series is organised by the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the IMR. There will be a termly half-day event, which will take place at GSMD, led by a guest curator. The purpose of these seminars is to present research about musical performance and to foster dialogue and debate between musicians, musicologists and others across a broad range of interests and backgrounds.

The series was founded in 2011 by CMPS’ predecessor, the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice, and to date it has hosted dozens of speakers from the UK and overseas, among them many leading performers and scholars. Particular areas of interest include practice-led research and collaborative work within the field of music and with other art forms.

Forthcoming Events

2017-18: term 3

3:30 pm to 6:00 pm, Monday 4 June 2018
Room B16, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DT
TICKETS: Admission free. This event is open to current postgraduate students by application to

Please note that step-free access is not possible to Room B16. If anyone wishing to attend requires step-free access, they should inform Shona Dale by email before 1 June 2018 (
Lost in Transcription: Limitations of 21st-century Music Notation
Maksim Stsura, Royal College of Music
This presentation examines technical and aesthetic challenges of notation surrounding piano arrangements of the orchestral parts of twenty-first-century piano concertos. Ever since the nineteenth century, piano arrangements have been essential to studying and disseminating symphonic repertoire. The late twentieth century saw major changes in musical language and orchestration, and the process of transcription has become increasingly time-consuming. At their best, two-piano arrangements can provide a satisfying alternative to full orchestral performance and therefore enable access to otherwise rarely performed concertos. Aspects of notation such as articulation, pedalling, dynamic and polyphonic layers play a key role in ensuring that the acoustic image of the original work is adequately communicated in the reduction even if some features are lost.  The paper addresses the possibilities and limitations of such arrangements and draws on specific examples from case studies of works by Mark-Anthony Turnage and James Dillon.
Masculinity, Virtuosity, and the Viola: Towards a Queer Performance of Paganini's 24th Caprice
Kirsty Clark, Guildhall School of Music & Drama
This paper explores one way in which classical music performance could be queer performance: that is, performance that challenges norms of gender and sexuality. It seeks to highlight masculine aesthetics within virtuosity, such as control, and domination of the instrument, using Paganini's 24th caprice as a case study. Paganini was surrounded in myths of sexual promiscuity, gendered violence, and occultism (Kawabata), and this paper shows how this mythology continues to inform some performers' interpretations today. Paganini's works are included in many major violin and viola competitions: this situates Paganini and his music firmly within the musical canon and establishes virtuosity as a desirable aesthetic for the competitive violinist or violist. The inclusion of Paganini's Caprices in viola competitions is one example of violists performing transcriptions. I find a queer potential in the way the viola must make physical adjustments to 'fit' these transcriptions onto an instrument for which it was not originally written. This experience of the violist having to make physical and musical negotiations mirrors the way a queer subject must negotiate social space in which they are 'obliquely' situated in relation to the 'straight lines' of heteronormativity (Ahmed 2006): both the queer subject and the violist cannot comfortably fit into the social or musical space they occupy and must go 'off course' in order to 'fit'. To conspicuously 'go off course' as a queer violist performing Paganini's 24th Caprice, I use drag to exaggerate the musical and physical gestures associated with Paganini's virtuosity to highlight simultaneously the performativity of masculinity and gender in general and the history and present of hyper-masculine associations with virtuoso performances.
Music Performance Anxiety as Helper and Guide
Martin Lawrence, Guildhall School of Music & Drama

My presentation will start with a talk about, and demonstration of, my approach to music performance anxiety (MPA). While presenting, I will observe the symptoms of my anxiety in doing so. I will allow these symptoms intermittently to take over my talk, and note the effect of this. I will then perform a short horn solo piece using the same method in a musical context. This means taking space between and within musical phrases in order to let an 'MPA-self' perform, before returning control to my central 'professional-performer-self'. There follows a reflection on the characteristics of the performance of the MPA -self. I choose one of these characteristics that has a meaningful narrative for me. I visualise performing from this attitude, observing any physical or other attributes that can be used as 'triggers' to maintain and return to the attitude in performance. I perform the solo as written, from this attitude.

Past events:

2017-18: Term 2

Monday, 12 February 2018
Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DT

3.30pm–5.30pm, Room 148, Silk Street Building
Research Masterclass
Dr Mine Doğantan-Dack (Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge) works with two doctoral students specialising in the field of practice-led research.
Admission free
This event is open to current postgraduate students by application to the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies (
6.00pm–7.00pm, Room 148, Silk Street Building
Sombering Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto
Because of the influence it had on popular culture, specifically in the form of sound tracks for various Hollywood films, Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto is prone to associations of superficial sentimentality and even banality; and not a few performances of the work tend to validate these associations. In this talk, Dr Mine Doğantan-Dack describes the process of preparing this piece for performance with the aim of lifting off this ‘popular’ veil in order to present it as a somber, serious and deeply moving work.
Admission free; registration at
These events are organised by the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies in conjunction with the Institute of Musical Research and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

2017-18: Term 1

Monday 30 October 2017

Performance Studies Forum
These events are organised by the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies in conjunction with the Institute of Musical Research and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Their aim is to present practice-led research on musical performance and to foster dialogue and debate between musicians, musicologists and others across a broad range of interests and backgrounds.

3.30 pm–5.30 pm, Room 208, Silk Street Building
Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DT

Research Masterclass
Professor Neil Heyde (Royal Academy of Music) works with two doctoral students specialising in the field of practice-led research.
This event is open to current postgraduate students by application to CMPS (
 6.30 pm–7.30 pm, Music Hall, Silk Street Building
Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DT

Not just tools: revealing the instrument in musical practice
Professor Neil Heyde explores some of the ways in which an instrument-led perspective can shed special light on musical practice, drawing case-study examples from recent music that invokes the past.


2016-17: Term 3

Monday 22 May 2017
Lecture Recital Room, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DT

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm:

Research Masterclass led by Professor John Rink (University of Cambridge) working with doctoral students in the field of practice-led research: Jing Ouyang (Royal Northern College of Music) and Nick Bonadies (Guildhall School of Music & Drama). Details below.

TICKETS: Admission free. This event is open to current postgraduate students by application to

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm:

In their ResearchWorks session, Professors John Rink (University of Cambridge), Helena Gaunt (Guildhall School of Music & Drama) and Aaron Williamon (Royal College of Music) discuss their co-edited book Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance, the first volume in Oxford University Press's forthcoming series Studies in Musical Performance as Creative Practice, which features the work of internationally prominent researchers, performers, music teachers and others. They first describe how the book was conceived and how it evolved thereafter. After setting the volume in the context of other relevant literature, they then provide an overview of the book's main themes and conclusions. Case-study excerpts from their respective chapters and from the more informal 'Insights' featured in the volume follow. The session ends with a brief discussion about the lifelong nature of most musicians' creative development.

TICKETS: Admission free. Booking required at

These events are organised by the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies in conjunction with the Institute of Musical Research and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

The influence of English pianoforte on keyboard technique and composition from 1790 to 1826
Jing Ouyang (Royal Northern College of Music)

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the compositional and performance style in London changed in accordance with the rapid development of English pianos. An examination of the music written by the London Pianoforte School including Clementi, Dussek and Cramer shows that producing a singing tone and the use of sustaining pedal were significant characteristic elements of performance in London at the time. Thesefeatures encouraged a new way of notating the score and new kinds of sound.
In my presentation, I will demonstrate different types of pedal techniques which have been neglected, in order to show the changes of musical style in London at the time. Awareness of these techniques helps performers produce a historically informed performance on a modern piano. By investigating how the sustaining devices developed and how they affected the pianistic writing of the London Pianoforte School, I have identified several purposes for use of the sustaining pedal, including sustaining the bass note, mixing harmonies for resonance effects, and achieving legato connection within the melodic line or adding colour to the harmony.
How Queer is My Bach: framing, 'flaming', and queer(ing) performance practice
Nick Bonadies (Guildhall School of Music & Drama)

My research brings queer and gender perspectives to questions of performance, interpretation and reception in a classical music discourse. Through exploring modes of listening and my practice as a pianist, I seek to further develop language with which to articulate queer(ing) listening relationships to musical performance-texts – in Alexander Doty's words, 'flaming the classics' of a conservatoire-centered musical canon – as well as articulating what may be read as a queer(ing) performance practice as an instrumentalist.
By drawing on queer and feminist music scholarship, which situates certain established discursive practices in classical music – for example, ideals of canonicity, authorship, ‘taste’ and audience reception – in a gendered sociohistorical context, we may begin to trace specific audible performance techniques and gestures as sites where such ideals are embodied, 'performed' in the Butlerian sense, and thus discursively (re)inscribed. Through acomparative listening of 'canonic' recordings of J. S. Bach on the piano, certain such gestures will emerge as potential sites for queer readings by a (specific, rather than universalized) listener: What gendered cultural mores dowe hear 'performed' in a given performer's treatment of a work of 'absolute' instrumental music? If we hear one performance as reaffirming such mores, might we hear another performance as questioning, decentering or destabilising these mores – in a phrase, queering their proverbial pitch? What gendered constructions of authorship and authenticity are brought to the fore when a score- or composer-centered ontology of 'the work' is decentralised? We can then articulate further queer spaces within my own artistic decision-making as a pianist, observing both process and product in preparing a performance of the same piece: in what ways might my own practice be read as queer(ing)?

2016-17: Term 2

GSMD ResearchWorks Series

Miekko Kanno (violinist and Professor of Artistic Doctoral Studies, Sibelius Academy)


Professor Mieko Kanno explores the act of ‘performing’ as a method for gaining insight into music, and its relation to the other types of insight that a broad range of music studies offers. In conjunction with the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies and the Institute of Musical Research.

6pm-7.30pm, Monday 27th February 2017 (with Research Masterclass 3pm-5pm)

 Lecture Recital Room, Guildhall School of Music, Silk Street, Barbican, London EC2Y 8DT


Booking (‘Performance as Research Method’, 6pm):

 Booking (Research Masterclass, 3pm):


‘Performance as Research Method’ Abstract:

This presentation focuses on the act of ‘performing’ as a method for gaining insight into music, and its relation to the other types of insight that a broad range of music studies offers. On the assumption that a particular kind of knowledge can be gained through performing music and that such knowledge is open to experimentation and interaction with other types of knowledge, I will examine performance in terms of the skills involved in delivering it. Referring to examples in the performance of contemporary music in particular, I consider the nature of these skills, their function, their conventions, the hierarchies within them, and their role as ‘tools’ that can be used for musical exploration. While the immediate goal of the enquiry is to address the ‘distance’ between conceptual claim and actual practice, the overarching aim is to come closer to identifying conditions for action, in other words understanding criteria for ‘what works’ and ‘why it works’ in musical performance.


Research Masterclass Abstracts:

‘Investigating Contemporary Persian Piano Repertoire and its Performance’

Kiana Shafiei (Royal Northern College of Music)

In my research I look into the performance and interpretation of piano solo and concertante works by three significant Iranian composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who have explored the potential of Persian music in a ‘Western’ paradigm.

The lack of analytical and performance studies on this repertoire raised two immediate questions: what musical links with Persian music can be drawn out in this repertoire, and to what extent can this study influence its performance? These questions were addressed with a combination of score analysis, piano practice, literature on Persian music and my own insight as a musician familiar with Persian music.

In this lecture-recital I will discuss various connections with Persian music and their performance implications. I will also bring forth examples from mainstream repertoire that have informed my research and methodologies when addressing performance issues in pieces inspired by folk music. Moreover, I will compare my own performance with existing recordings of other pianists to discuss how my knowledge and understanding of these composers can result in a different performance.

‘The 24 Etudes-Caprices of Emile Sauret (1902) – A First Recording’

Nazrin Rashidova (Royal Academy of Music)

While the nineteenth-century violinist, composer and pedagogue Émile Sauret carved an enviable reputation for himself during his lifetime, he is little known today, although he is probably recognised by many violinists for the spectacular cadenza that he wrote for Paganini’s First Violin Concerto (published in 1896). Composed during his professorial tenure at the Royal Academy of Music, the 24 Etudes-Caprices are a testament to his technical finesse and are dedicated to his student, the great British virtuoso Marjorie Hayward. I have begun work on a complete recording which will span four discs and which will be released by Naxos. The first volume has already been recorded and is due for release in June 2017.

In the process of making the recordings I aim to explore the following research questions. My talk will focus on the first two practical questions.


Who was Emile Sauret and is it possible to build a picture of his work that transcends the purely biographical?

What kinds of programmes did he play and how did his work fit into the larger picture of European and British musical life? Are these etudes-caprices representative?


What kind of virtuosity is being advocated in these etudes-caprices?

To what extent is this embodied in character, structure, and detailed descriptions of technical execution?

How does a recording offer me a window into understanding the distinctive possibilities and qualities of these etudes?

Is recording a set of ‘studies’ a different kind of exercise to making a ‘programme’ disc or series?

2016-17: Term 1

6pm, Monday 28th November, 2016, Lecture Recital Room, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DT

The half-day event will include a Research Masterclass, from 3 - 5pm (scroll down for details)

'The Emancipated Performer: Musical Renderings Beyond Interpretation' (GSMD ResearchWorks Series)

Dr. Paulo de Assis (Orpheus Institute, Ghent; Visiting Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies)

A close historical survey reveals that the notion of ‘musical interpretation’ was born only in the course of the nineteenth century, bound to a specific set of new rules, constraints and expectations. Other words and other practices were in use before its appearance, and other terms and praxes might emerge in the future. This talk will offer a brief overview of
the terms used in the past and propose new ones for the future. Situating the discourse in a post-interpretive horizon of possibilities, it will argue for an emancipated, liberated and creative mode of performing musical objects from the past.

More specifically, Paulo de Assis will present his ongoing, European-funded research project MusicExperiment21, focusing on the subproject Diabelli Machines – a series of performances, lectures, articles or installations that operate different forms of problematisation of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations Op. 120. Every single instantiation of this subproject questions the original work, cracking it from inside, disclosing its ruptures, and reconfiguring it in a different regime of perception and signification.
Beyond historiographical, philological, organological or sociological investigations, it aims at creatively yet rigorously engaging with the historically available materials related to Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and its compossible futures.

So far, the Diabelli Machines has had seven instantiations, including collaborations with the ORCiM-ensemble, Hermes Ensemble, Ensemble Interface and ME21 Collective, with seven young composers (Juan Parra, Lucia D’Errico, Tiziano Manca, David Gorton, Hans Roels, Bart Vanhecke, Paolo Galli), Swiss choreographer Kurt Dreyer, and a number of special guests such as Valentin Gloor, Catherine Laws, Stefan Östersjö, William Brooks, Benjamin Widmer and Mieko Kanno. All versions are documented at

Organised in conjunction with the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

For further information and booking details, please visit: and

A direct link to the Eventbrite booking page is available here:

Research Masterclass for Doctoral and Master's Students

Sponsored by the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies, Institute of Musical Research, and Guildhall School of Music & Drama

3 to 5 pm, Monday 28 November 2016

Lecture Recital Room, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Silk Street, London

A new series of 'Research Masterclasses' is being launched for music postgraduates, especially those working in practice-based research and in performance studies. The first event in the series will be held on Monday 28 November. The class will be led by Paulo de Assis (ERC Principal Investigator, Orpheus Institute; Visiting Fellow, Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies) and will feature the work of two students:
Naomi Woo (University of Cambridge) and Louise Cournarie (Royal Academy of
Music). Their abstracts are given below. Each of them will give a presentation of approximately 20 minutes, after which Dr de Assis will work with them along the lines of a more conventional masterclass.

Music postgraduates at any institution are welcome to attend, but a place (free of charge) must be requested in advance by writing to

The next Research Masterclass will take place on Monday 27 February 2017 and
will be led by Professor Mieko Kanno (Sibelius Academy). Details will be
circulated in due course.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Impossibilities of and in performance: an exploration of John Cage's Etude Australe VIII

Naomi Woo, University of Cambridge

Of his collection of Etudes Australes (1974), John Cage famously claimed: 'These are intentionally as difficult as I can make them, because I think we're now surrounded by very serious problems in the society, and we think that the situation is hopeless and that it's just impossible to do something that will make everything turn out properly. So I think that this music, which is almost impossible, gives an instance of the practicality of the impossible.' Cage's reflection is geared towards the audience, and the intended utopian effect that these works might have on their listeners. Nonetheless, this effect itself is inherently dependent on the performer. After all, possibility is a constraint that relies on the contingencies of a particular performer's body. This project explores how the 'impossible' manifests from the perspective of the pianist in Cage's Etude Australe VIII.
Is the piece impossible, and if so, how? While the impossibility might easily be passed off as a nonsensical paradox (by performing an impossible piece, it becomes possible), I suggest-following Eldritch Priest's discussions of 'the aesthetics of failure'-that there is an aesthetic of the impossible that exists outside of these paradoxical loops. Using
demonstrations at the piano, I will examine some of the specific challenges that Cage poses for the performer. In particular, I will focus on disjunctures between score and gesture, the coordination (and lack thereof) between the hands, and on the role of indeterminacy and the kinds of impossibility that each of these challenges suggest.


Baroque keyboard repertoire translated to the modern piano

Louise Cournarie, Royal Academy of Music

Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century keyboard repertoire seems to have become forbidden for modern pianists. When facing this music, pianists either completely transform their playing in order to come closer to what they think would be more appropriate, or choose not to play early music, leaving this entire repertoire in the hands of harpsichordists. Only Bach and maybe Scarlatti appear to escape this categorisation, probably due to well-known recordings of this repertoire by pianists such as Gould or Horowitz, whose performances became a kind of reference point. The few brave pianists
attempting to play works by Rameau, Duphly, Purcell or Handel on modern instruments will certainly attract criticism and sometimes even the anger of many people in the name of 'authenticity'. This concept appears to be largely considered as the unique guarantor of the quality of a performance, such that 'historically correct interpretations' are sometimes sought rather than emotion and beauty.

But does the simple fact of performing this repertoire on a period instrument guarantee authenticity? Is authenticity the unique goal when playing this repertoire? And how could we convincingly perform this repertoire on modern piano? These questions will be broached in my presentation and the demonstrations accompanying it.

2015-16: Term 3

Monday 23 May, 2016

The recorded afterlife of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue'

Catherine Tackley (Open University)

Research exploring the authenticity of and contradictions between the existent manuscripts and publications of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue has exposed the lack of an obvious Urtext in notated form. This is perhaps not surprising, given Gershwin’s background and working practices. However, recordings of the work (including four with Gershwin at the piano), which preserve details of the work and influence (as well as document) performative approaches, have not yet been subject to the same degree of critical scrutiny. Rhapsody in Blue has a particularly rich recorded history: in addition to recordings of Ferde Grofé’s various orchestrations, there are arrangements which adhere to the stylistic conventions of particular genres, including jazz, progressive rock and easy listening, and also cross freely between them. Musical material from the work has also been used prolifically and influentially in film soundtracks. This paper evaluates the afterlife of Rhapsody in Blue by exploring its performance history and practices based on analysis of more than 400 recordings. I will focus on the famous ‘Andantino moderato’ theme, which, as David Schiff points out in his Cambridge Music Handbook, ‘is never played as written’.

Catherine Tackley is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Music Department at The Open University. She has written two monographs; The Evolution of Jazz in Britain 1880-1935 (Ashgate, 2005) and Benny Goodman’s Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert (Oxford University Press, 2012). Catherine Tackley was co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project ‘What is Black British Jazz?’ in 2009-11; some of this work is published by Ashgate in a volume entitled Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance (2014), which she also co-edited. From 2012 to 2014 she was Principal Investigator of the AHRC Research Networking project ‘Atlantic Sounds: Ships and Sailortowns’, and she continues to develop work on music and the sea, with particular reference to Britain and the Atlantic. Catherine Tackley is a co-editor of the Jazz Research Journal. She is currently Musical Director of Dr Jazz and the Cheshire Cats Big Band.


Monday 9 May, 2016

Creating the ‘vāh vāh moments’: strategies for engaging with expert listeners in performances of North Indian classical music

Chloë Alaghband-Zadeh (University of Cambridge)

Expert listeners, or ‘rasikas’, are central to North Indian classical music. They are conspicuous at concerts, where they sit towards the front. They frequently interact with the performers and with each other, gesturing or commenting, often with the words ‘Vāh! Vāh!’, roughly meaning ‘Wow!’, whenever they hear something they like. Expert listeners have also long made up the most powerful segment of North Indian classical audiences: it is they who organise concerts, who write newspaper reviews and who determine which musicians will succeed professionally.

What effects does this community of music connoisseurs, and the interactive performance environment of North Indian classical music, have on the way musicians craft their performances? To what extent can a focus on listeners and listening practices illuminate the moment-to-moment decisions that musicians make as they are improvising? With this talk, I present some of the results of two recent field trips to India in summer 2014 and spring 2015, during which I held a series of interviews and listening sessions with musicians and expert listeners. This research highlights the strategies that musicians employ in order to orient their performances towards expert listeners. I focus on how this affects musicians’ musical decisions. In particular, I argue that an important part of what musicians do in performance is to produce what one listener described to me as the ‘vāh vāh moments’: those magical instants, which are central to the connoisseurship of North Indian classical music, where listeners are so moved by what they are hearing that they feel compelled to respond out loud. I consider the kinds of musical features which contribute to such moments and how musicians use them to gain favour with some of their most important and powerful listeners. 

Chloë Alaghband-Zadeh is a Temporary University Lecturer at the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge. Her research is on North Indian classical music, which she studies through a combination of ethnography and music analysis. She received her Ph.D. from SOAS, University of London (2013), for a dissertation on the semi-classical genre ṭhumrī. She is currently working on a project on expert listening and connoisseurship in North Indian classical music.


Monday 25 April 2016

Composing a performance: activating collaboration

David Gorton (Royal Academy of Music)

The real world practices of collaboration between composers and performers have been receiving increasing attention within academic discourse (Fitch and Heyde 2007; Östersjö 2008; Bayley 2010; Clarke, Doffman and Lim 2013). Such collaborations are often presented from two complementary perspectives: pre-compositional joint invention and post-compositional negotiations in the realisation of a score and its notation. This presentation considers possible compositional strategies for bridging the gap between the two perspectives, embedding something of the improvisatiory ‘unpredictability and contingency’ (Sawyer and DeZutter, 2009) of joint invention into a score and thereby into performance. Two of my compositions will be examined: Austerity Measures I for ten-string guitar, written for Stefan Östersjö, and Austerity Measures II for Howarth-Redgate oboe and string quartet, written for Christopher Redgate and the Kreutzer Quartet. Both pieces had an extended pre-composition experimental phase, and both represent an attempt to recreate something of those experiments in performance. In this presentation I will discuss how this process is activated through types of indeterminacy in the structure and notation of the scores.

Described by Gramophone magazine as working in the ‘more radical domain’ of British music, David Gorton’s works are often characterised by microtonal tuning systems and performer virtuosity. Alongside apparently complex works, his output includes compositions for amateur choirs and pieces in the ABRSM Spectrum series.

David Gorton first came to public attention in 2001 when he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize. Commissions followed for ensembles that include the London Sinfonietta, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Exposé, Jane's Minstrels, CHROMA, HERMESensemble, and the Kreutzer Quartet. His compositions have been performed throughout Europe and America, in China, and in Vietnam, and most of his recent music is recorded on the Métier label. Much of his output comprises series of works for solo performers with whom he has built a collaborative relationship over a period of years, including the violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved, cellist Neil Heyde, oboist Christopher Redgate, pianist Zubin Kanga, and guitar player Stefan Östersjö. Current projects include a new CD of works inspired by the music of John Dowland, featuring Longbow Ensemble and Stefan Östersjö. David Gorton is the Associate Head of Research at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and an associate researcher at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent.


2015-16: TERM 2

Monday 22 February 2016

Quiet is beautiful: the aesthetics of softness in new music today

Mieko Kanno (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

In this talk-and-play presentation, I will share my observations about soft sound and soft playing in contemporary music. Softness offers a particular poetics and politics of listening today. What kinds of softness are there, and how do we articulate and perceive them? Who produces and controls musical softness? Which options would we have in creating it in the near future? What role would the performer have on stage then?

There are at least two strands of historical development that have led to the present practice of musical softness. The first strand is creative in an imaginative sense: in the 1970s and 1980s, a number of composers (such as Feldman, Nono and Sciarrino) proposed new aesthetics of soft sound, against the prevalent style of sound projection developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The second strand is also creative but in a more practical sense: the last couple of decades have seen musical communities develop the use of amplification and electronic processing on sound. The impact of this strand is less visible but more pervasive in our experience. For example: (1) an amplified (otherwise inaudible) whispering sound can offer a distinct musical effect, very different from the softness of unamplified (yet audible) whispering sound; (2) incidental sounds – such as finger-tapping and bowing noises – that would be eliminated in 'normal' listening can be brought forward by electronic processing to produce a new palette of sound; and (3) a distant sound produced by a sound-diffusion system is very different from the same sound produced softly right in front of you, although both are 'pianissimo' in terms of musical notation. 

The aesthetics of softness also puts the listener at the heart of perception. This presentation will conclude with thoughts on communication of musical softness.

Mieko Kanno specialises in the combined disciplines of performance and musicology in contemporary music. Since winning the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis at the Darmstadt New Music Institute in 1994 for the interpretation of contemporary music, she has collaborated with many composers Europe-wide, commissioned and premiered new works, and established herself as one of the leading exponents of contemporary music. Mieko Kanno is interested in how musical works change their identity with time, and this research is much informed by her practice. In addition to her solo work, she is widely experienced as an ensemble violinist and has been a leading participant in groups such as the New Music Players, Exposé, Apartment House, the Utrecht-based ensemble insomnio, and others.


Monday 8 February 2016

Bringing Canada’s First Peoples’ Musical Performances into the 21st Century

Professor Elaine Keillor (Carleton University)

Prior to 1600, it is estimated that the area now known as Canada had some 300 different cultures occupying that geographical space. With the ravages of disease and other impacts from colonialism, the number of cultures and the languages used was considerably reduced. Still many have retained or are in the process of recovering their musical performance traditions that are intimately connected with all aspects of their daily lives.

In this talk, four different cultures present in Canada from East to West – Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Inuit, and Kwakwa_ka’wakw – will be introduced.  Then a sampling of how persons of these backgrounds mash their musical traditions into presentations for native and non-native audiences at the present time will be given. These include an orchestral powwow, hip-hop with powwow tunes, throat-singing in musical theatre, and the inclusion of traditional dances/music in new creations such as those of Red Sky. 

Elaine Keillor, a Distinguished Research Professor Emerita of Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, remains active as a researcher, a professional musician of keyboards and as a singer.  She has produced numerous publications, including the books John Weinzweig and His Music: The Radical Romantic of Canada (1994), Music in Canada: Capturing Landscape and Diversity (2006), and the Encyclopedia of Native American Music of North America (2013). She has also been the team leader for the production of several websites on Canadian indigenous expressions:,, and


Monday 25 January 2016

The challenges of teaching undergraduate music students without using western notation: performance analysis as a partial solution

Dr Freya Jarman (University of Liverpool)

The Music Department at the University of Liverpool is unusual in its entrance requirements: it does not require any formal musical background for students of popular music subjects. Meanwhile, it is also home to students with high-level formal training in Western classical music, who arrive expecting to make use of their competence in standard analytical methods. Both groups of students, and students whose skills are somewhere on the spectrum in between these extremes, sit alongside each other in a compulsory first-year module called Music as Sound. The aim of this module is to develop students’ abilities to talk productively about musical detail in a wide range of musics (from various popular music genres, through Western classical music, to a variety of non-Western musics and avant-garde performance art). This paper reflects on the challenges of developing the module in ways that are meaningful to students with and without formal musical training, particularly because the module does not aim to provide musical theory where it is absent in students’ musical language. Instead, it provides a new mode of analysis that challenges students competent with musical notation to think about analysis without traditional Western scores; the module also introduces analytical techniques to students who are non-notationally literate and without recourse to the technical tools and language of Western classical music. Thus, by changing the very nature of the goal, the module encourages classically trained musicians to think about music precisely as sound, rather than as a musical score, while also enabling those without training in music theory and analysis to talk about musical detail in a truly meaningful way. Moreover, such an approach, if adopted widely enough, could help close the gap in popular music scholarship between textual analysis and context-focused scholarship, as well as enabling scholars of classical music to write in ways more accessible to interdisciplinary audiences.

Freya Jarman is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Liverpool. She is committedly a 'crossover artist' in both her teaching and research, having started as a classical pianist and then turning to the study of popular music during her PhD at the University of Newcastle. She is especially interested in cultures and ideologies of the voice and in queer theory; with these in mind she is the author of Queer Voices: Technologies, Vocalities, and the Musical Flaw (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), in which her three case studies are Diamanda Galas, Maria Callas, and Karen Carpenter. Freya Jarman is also the editor of Oh Boy! Masculinities and Popular Music (Routledge, 2007) and is currently working on a wide-ranging project on gendered histories of high notes in vocal music.


2015-16: Term 1

Monday 7 December 2015

Disseminating the music of Mahler: early performance history and critical responses, 1889–1914

Dr Paul Banks (HonRCM) and Professor Rainer Kleinertz (Universität des Saarlandes)

In 2014 a project on Mahler reception started at the Universität des Saarlandes, the aim of which is to produce a complete set of documentation about Mahler performances up to 1914 including virtually all available documents in contemporary newspapers and journals. On the basis of Paul Banks’ research on Mahler’s output, an enhanced understanding of the early performance history of his large-scale works is possible, and many unknown records of Mahler performances and their critical and public reception have been identified and gathered in a database. An analysis of these documents – which may lead into interdisciplinary work utilizing digital linguistic methodology – shows that early Mahler’s symphonies were regarded as historical events from early on. Examination of positive and negative reviews clarifies the aesthetic and cultural basis of sharply differing responses as well as their common ground. 

Rainer Kleinertz is Chair in Musicology at the Universität des Saarlandes in Saarbrücken, Germany. He studied music (viola) at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold, and Musicology, German and Romance Literature at Paderborn University. He was visiting professor at Salamanca University (1992–94), reader and professor at Regensburg University (1994–2006) and visiting fellow at the University of Oxford (2000–2001). His present research focuses on the works of Tomás Luis de Victoria, Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler. Among other publications, he is co-editor of the Complete Writings of Franz Liszt (Sämtliche Schriften, Breitkopf & Härtel, from 1989 onwards) and author of two volumes on eighteenth-century Spanish music theatre (Grundzüge des spanischen Musiktheaters im 18. Jahrhundert. Ópera – Comedia – Zarzuela, Kassel, Reichenberger, 2003). He is currently directing a research project on ‘Computer-based harmonic analysis’, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). 

Paul Banks studied music at the University of Exeter and undertook his doctoral research on Gustav Mahler at St John’s College, Oxford. He was lecturer in music at Goldsmiths’ College, London (1979-88) and Librarian at the Britten-Pears Library, Aldeburgh (1988–98). At the Royal College of Music he held a number of posts including Research Development Fellow (1998–2003), Head of the Centre for Performance Studies (2004–14) and Chair of Historical Musicology (2007–14); while there he was also co-investigator for the AHRC Concert Programmes project (2003–07). He prepared the first scholarly edition of Hans Rott’s Symphony in E major (1989) and other publications include editions of music by Berlioz and Busoni; he edited Benjamin Britten: A Catalogue of the Published Works (Britten Estate, 1999) and The Making of Peter Grimes (Boydell Press, 1996, 2000). His current research focuses on an online catalogue of the music of Mahler and the history of music printing and publishing in Vienna from 1870 to 1914.


Monday 23 November 2015

Text as script: the lyric model

Professor Amanda Glauert (Royal College of Music)

The difference between actors and musicians in their attitudes to text has been summed up in the question they first ask of a performance: whereas musicians tend to ask 'is it right', actors ask 'does it work'.  In considering what emulating the actors’ approach might mean for musicians, the presentation draws on ideals and practices connected to lyric song.  According to the song theorist Herder a lyric is defined by its appeal for others to join in; it implies a shift in emphasis from creator to receiver, from a given creative intention to the experience of the moment. The freedom of aiming for a song to ‘work’ challenges the performer to take immediate account of listener responses.  The presentation will discuss how song practices of Goethe and Beethoven can be taken as performative models of how to work with the listener, taking as a practical example the poetic and musical ingredients offered in Beethoven’s four settings of Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt

Amanda Glauert has worked for many years with performers, both at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music where she was until recently Director of Programmes & Research. She has been involved in seeking to develop masters and doctoral programmes that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of performers' lives and allow fresh perspectives on research processes. Her own research has revolved around the songs of Wolf and Beethoven, and the aesthetics of Goethe and Herder.  In addition to her book Hugo Wolf and the Wagnerian Inheritance she has contributed to the Cambridge Companions to Beethoven and to the Lied.  Her current writing concerns relationships between lyric song and 'lateness'. She is co-director with Kathryn Whitney and Paul Barker of SONGART, a performance research group of the Institute of Musical Research.     


Monday 9 November 2015

‘Do it how you like, but make it beautiful’: a pluralist and performer-centric approach to historically informed Brahms

Dr Emily Worthington (clarinettist / musicologist)

The history of musical performance, of styles and performing practices, is a tale of plurality, yet this is not well represented in most historical performance research. Research methodologies, specialist instrument pedagogy and professional practice have tended to privilege sources that fulfil at least one of two criteria: proximity to the composer, and the ‘great performer’ status of their originator. These criteria are inherently problematic, though they have obvious benefits in terms of narrowing the field of information and providing the semblance of external validation. Crucially, they can also lead to valuable evidence being overlooked or discounted, particularly if that evidence challenges prevailing musical tastes. In this presentation I will focus on the recordings of a number of German clarinetists active between 1900 and 1940 who, though respected in their day, have no strong links with great composers and little posthumous reputation. Though undoubtedly accomplished, their playing as documented by the recordings also features elements that are challenging both to the modern practitioner and to listeners. Choosing to disregard these ‘problems’, I have used evidence drawn from the recordings in combination with composer-proximate and more ‘dubious’ written sources as a stimulus for technical and creative experimentation with Brahms’s clarinet music on historical instruments. The initial results of this ongoing project include unexpected insights into the relationship between instrumental technique and performing style, and they hint at the possible benefits of a more pluralist and less hierarchical approach to historical evidence in practice-based performance research.

Emily Worthington specializes in playing period clarinets from the 18th to the early-20th century. She has played with orchestras across the UK and Europe, including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music, The Gabrieli Players, Spira Mirabilis, Le Cercle de l’Harmonie and Le Concert Spirituel. As part of a busy chamber music schedule, Emily co-directs Boxwood and Brass, a harmonie-ensemble specializing in the wind music of the late-18th and early-19th centuries. Previously a Junior Fellow in the Royal College of Music Centre for Performance History, Emily completed a PhD at the University of York in 2013 entitled ‘The Modernisation of Wind Playing in London Orchestras, 1909–1939’, funded by a Collaborative Doctoral Award from the AHRC and Music Preserved. She was subsequently awarded an Edison Visiting Research Fellow at the British Library to continue her research into early wind chamber music recordings. Emily teaches at Morley College and in December 2015 will be taking up a part-time lecturing position at the University of Huddersfield.