Research Seminar: Paul Mazey on ‘Choral Music in British Cinema 1930s-1950s’, Weds 6th November, 5-7pm, GLT2

Unfortunately we have yet to arrange regular screenings for the term, but we hope many will be able to attend the following exciting event.

We are delighted to be welcoming back Paul Mazey from the University of Bristol. He’ll be delivering a research seminar on Wednesday the 6th of November from 5-7pm. This will take place in Grimond Lecture Theatre 2.

The following blurb is from the School of Arts events calendar (excluding the disturbing Kathleen Byron GIF…) :

Choral voices are a recurring feature on the scores of British films of the 1930s to 1950s, where they conjure the sense of an ethereal presence that intervenes in the human world. This presentation considers how the choral voices heard in British cinema draw upon the tradition of British choral music, in light of their repeated use by composers whose work outside of the film industry includes choral writing, notably William Walton, Brian Easdale and Ralph Vaughan Williams. In particular, it explores examples of choral voices used as a wordless sonority. Wordless voices, freed from religious specificity, are able to project a broader and more inclusive mystical feeling. By analysing their use in such key films as Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger, 1947), Scott of the Antarctic (Charles Frend, 1948) and Gone to Earth (Powell & Pressburger, 1950), this talk will consider the ways that choral voices are used to imbue natural forces with an aura of intention that heightens their influence on characters’ lives and suggests the workings of otherworldly powers.

Paul Mazey is an Associate Teacher of film and television at the University of Bristol. His forthcoming publications include a monograph on musical traditions in British film music, a journal article on the use of opera arias in British comedy films and a chapter (co-authored with Sarah Street) on the piano in melodrama for an edited collection.

After the research seminar, if you would like to join a gathering for dinner, please email Tamar Jeffers McDonald at

Everyone welcome.

We hope to see you there!