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The sound of summer

City to host month-long free music festival


City is hosting a free festival, with events ranging from classical concerts, to experimental performances of electronic music and sonic art. The eclectic City Summer Sounds will take place for four weeks in May and June, featuring performances from talented City staff, students and alumni, along with several musicians from outside of the University.

The festival’s varied programme encompasses 16 events, here’s a pick of some of the highlights.


Wednesday 25th May

EXAUDI is one of Britain’s leading contemporary music ensembles and was founded in 2002 by James Weeks (director) and Juliet Fraser (soprano). EXAUDI draws inspiration from early ensembles, working as a consort rather than a choir, while performing “harmonically intricate” contemporary music.

On Wednesday 25th May, EXAUDI will be showcasing new works in progress, combining voices and technology as part of a City research project. Performances will include new works by Newton Armstrong, Leo Chadburn, Miguel Mera, along with a collaborative project between poet James Wilkes, sound artist Bill Thompson and composer James Weeks around the chansons of Josquin des Prez.

The programme includes new vocal works by City's undergraduate student composers.

Ben Smith: Images, Objects and Signs

Tuesday 31st May

Pianist and City alumnus Ben Smith graduated from the BMus last year and is going on to do an MA at the Guildhall next year. On Tuesday 31st May, Ben will be performing a solo piano recital of contemporary works including a premiere of a new composition of his own. During the concert, Ben will be exploring works where musical sound is imagined or conceptualized as a quasi-image, object or symbol. Works by Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnissy and Jürg Frey will be included.

Ian Pace – Michael Finnissy at 70: The Piano Music (3)

Friday 27th May

City’s Head of Performance, Ian Pace will be performing a solo recital focussing on the music of Michael Finnissy as part of a series to celebrate the composer’s 70th birthday. This double concert on Friday 27th May will feature a varied selection of shorter works, many of them rarely heard, followed by his major early 1990s cycle Folklore. Ian and Finnissy have a long-standing collaboration, which was recently the subject of a feature on BBC Radio 3.

Ian Pace describes the upcoming event as “diverse, creative and surrealistic”.  His individuated interpretation of the music brings both a performer and a scholar’s perspective on it, resulting from many years of playing, studying, analysing, and writing about it.

Ian first met Finnissy as a student at Oxford in the late 1980s and started playing his music soon afterwards. Ian said:

I feel a very deep affinity with Michael’s music – from when I first heard his somewhat ironically titled English Country-Tunes, a rampaging work characterised by extremes of violence and nostalgia, I felt this spoke of an ‘England’ that I could recognise. Not the picture postcard world of English pastoralism, but a ravaged post-industrial landscape, similar to that presented in the films of Derek Jarman.

Debate: Full STE(A)M Ahead?

Friday 10th June

As part of the festival, City will be hosting a series of debates exploring contemporary issues in music. This debate will approach the assertion by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP that pupils are “held back” by an overemphasis on the arts, restricting their future career paths.

The debate will explore the accuracy of this claim and whether this position reflects a “downgrading of creativity”.

A full programme can be found here.

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