Postgraduate Forum Autumn 2018

Posted on 12 November 2018

The Autumn forum was held on 26 September in the Rymer Auditorium and Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, Department of Music.

The presentations ranged from students who had just started their PhD to those who are close to the finishing line. The topics varied from liturgical music to music and marketing and showcased the diversity the Department of Music at the University of York has to offer.

The first session was opened by Hannah Rodger who gave an excellent talk on the liturgical music of the Laudians at Durham Cathedral and discussed their tradition in the historical context. The second presentation by Lynette Quek brought us from the past to the present. In her talk she gave an example on how obsolete technology that is not longer be used or produced, in this case an Overhead Projector, can be repurposed and used as a tool in composition and performance contexts. A demonstration of this strategy was later given during the composition workshop.

In the last presentation of this session Owen Burton gave an interesting insight on self-quotation as a compositional strategy, analysing works of the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara. In the discussion this approach was linked to sampling in hip-hop, showing that these strategies can be found not only in classical or contemporary music, but can also be recognized in popular music.

Hannah Rodger speaking about the Laudians at Durham Cathedral Lynette Quek presenting the ideas behind -ect -act

Left: Hannah Rodger speaking about the Laudians at Durham Cathedral. Right: Lynette Quek presenting the ideas behind -ect -act.

After a short coffee break, the forum continued with the lecture recital. Carmen Troncoso gave an intriguing example of artistic research by introducing The ‘Coppel’ Project, a collaboration between herself as a recorder performer, the composer Roger Marsh, and audiovisual artist Lynette Quek.

Carmen Troncoso presenting the ‘Coppel’ project

The lunch break gave all the participants the opportunity to continue discussions and get some refreshments before the second part of the forum.

The composition workshop is an established part of the Autumn forum and this year we were happy to receive great submissions from postgraduate composers. We are especially grateful to Professor Nicola LeFanu, a well-known composer and former Head of Department, for agreeing to chair this session.

Carmen Troncoso presentint the ‘Coppel’ project.

The workshop got off to a lively start with Steffano Gioffre’s A Kid’s Guide to the Sunrise, performed with admirable virtuosity by Martin Suckling and Rich Powell on violins. The piece took the form of a Tarantella, taking inspiration from the folk traditions of the composer’s native Calabria. This provoked discussions on cultural identity, rhythmic abstraction and the role of contemporary music in children’s musical appreciation. Having earlier heard Lynette Quek present a paper on her piece -ect -act, it was a wonderful treat to witness a live performance of the piece, with Bassist John Marley and Lynette herself on overhead projector. Initially reminiscent of shadow puppetry, the piece inspired a fascinating contemplation on the musical, visual and personal dynamics of performance with subtle changes in the roles and levels of control and autonomy between the two performers.

Martin Suckling (left) and Richard Powell (right) performing A Kid’s Guide to the Sunrise Professor Nicola LeFanu discussing A Kid’s guide to the Sunrise with Stefano Gioffre

Left: Martin Suckling (left) and Richard Powell (right) performing A Kid’s Guide to the Sunrise. Right: Professor Nicola LeFanu discussing A Kid’s Guide to the Sunrise with Stefano Gioffre.

After a quick room change, The workshop concluded with Shu-Yu Lin’s Piece for Flute and Electronics. Making full use of the Rymer Auditorium’s impressive sound system, this piece again stimulated thoughtful discussion on the interaction between two elements, in this case Wen Lee’s eloquent flute playing and Shu-Yu’s refined, delicate ear for electronic colour. Throughout the workshop, the discussion was lead with insight and perspicacity by Nicola LeFanu, whose ability both to get straight to the heart of the issue and to catalyse broader conversation was widely remarked upon.

John Marley and Lynette Quek performing Shu-Yu Lin and Wen Lee presenting Piece for Flute and Electronics

Left: John Marley and Lynette Quek performing. Right: Shu-Yu Lin and Wen Lee presenting Piece for Flute and Electronics.

The second paper session was begun by Ling Ding, presenting an interdisciplinary study focusing on co-operation in the Arts and Humanities between Chinese and UK higher education institutions. This insightful paper introduced a mixed methods design, using quantitative and qualitative research methods to underpin the relevance for cooperation between the two regions and why and to what extent the Chinese social concept guanxi plays a role in establishing these relations. Next, Yaou Zhang discussed the issue of marginalization within Benjamin Britten’s musical work. To explain how a sense of ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ can be created by music and drama she used Britten’s opera Turn of the Screw as an example. Last but not least, Catherine Fahy presented a paper in which she combined philosophical and scientific theories to analyse the musical utterances and recurrent psychoanalytic themes in relation to socio-historical foundations in Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt.

Ling Ding presenting the concept of guanxi Catherine Fahy on Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt

Left: Ling Ding presenting the concept of guanxi. Right: Catherine Fahy on Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt.

The forum was rounded off with a wine reception and a dinner at the Press Kitchen. We would like to thank everyone who helped and supported us throughout the organisation process and on the day. We would especially like to thank Liam Maloney and Sophie Collerton for chairing the paper sessions and Professor Nicola LeFanu for chairing the composition workshop.

- Diana Kayser and Dominic Floyd