Many thanks to alumna and former Music Scholar, Steph Richardson, who joined me in the virtual studio this week for a live webchat about new fashion brand, Awkward Tiger.
Since graduating in 2014 having read Drama & Theatre Studies (many readers might remember her singing with the University Big Band and the Chamber Choir), Steph has recently been working at Farnham Maltings in Surrey, and over the past eighteen months decided to launch her own fashion brand.
In the webchat, Steph talks about the inspiration for the company, the ethical values embedded in it, her love for British Sewing Bee, and her imminent move to work at the National Theatre. Watch it here if you missed it…
It’s time to don your dancing-shoes for today’s episode of Minervan Miniatures, our series dedicated to exploring forgotten piano repertoire by women composers: ‘Odilia’ (tango) from ‘Mis pequeños amigos’ by Maria Lluisa Ponsa (1879-1919), published around 1918.
The series exploring forgotten piano repertoire by women composers, #MinervanMiniatures, unearths this finely-wrought gem by Otillie Heinke (1823-1888), the Sonatine in F major, published around 1876. Enjoy the almost Valkyrie-in-miniature passage in the development, as a gently heroic theme in thirds echoes between the left- and right-hand.
Part of the fun of exploring new repertoire is coming up with creative ideas for programming it; and for the Minervan Miniaturesrecital series next year, exploring forgotten or neglected piano repertoire by women composers, here’s a foretaste of how that might work – The Four Seasons by Women Composers, a suite of pieces reflecting the changing seasons, all written by women.
Not your usual Vivaldi!
The suite I’ve put together is of music by Marguerite Balutet, Mary Earl, Carrie Williams Krogmann, Tatiana Stankovych and Nannie Louise Wright, ranging from the opening Valzer di Primavera through to Autumn: A Tone Poem and closing with Winter and A Skating Carnival.
See more of the repertoire in the series on our YouTube playlist here.
The second volume in the Magnificat series by Andrew Nethsingha and The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge takes a keen look at settings of the Evening Canticles across the years, from 1932 to 2019 from stalwart composers of the canon in Sumsion and Howells to perhaps lesser-known figures including Sydney Watson (who conducted the first performance of Walton’s epic The Twelve) and Giles Swayne, as well as contemporary titans Arvo Pärt and Julian Anderson.
Swayne’s wonderfully dynamic Magnificat I setting revels in repetition, bearing African influences, pitching glowing upper-voices over repeated lower voices, whilst a radiant ‘Amen’ recedes skywards. There is the usual vigorous, robust setting by Walton, a richly celebratory response to the text’s jubilation. Luminous cluster-chords opens Lennox Berkeley’s meditative, contemplative setting, which pushes ahead with a wonderfully expressive flow, in contrast to Swayne’s rhythmically robust response. Pärt’s hushed, timeless incarnation of the text is filled with a reverential awe in its widely-spaced textures and unhurried pace.
The disc finishes with the challenging, bracing setting by Julian Anderson, written for the college’s 150th anniversary in 2019. His Magnificat is vibrant with polyrhythms and a dizzying web of textures; contrasting lyrical, melodic lines unfold over glowing sustained chords in Anderson’s richly colourful tonal language. In contrast is a sedate, darker-hued Nunc Dimittis – which brings the whole disc to a reverentially hushed conclusion.
The introductory essay by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, speaks of “these ancient hymns, so redolent of continuities yet so full of radical surprise,” words true both of the canticles and of this absorbing treasury, impeccably performed by St John’s College Cambridge Choir under the direction of Andrew Nethsingha.
This week’s episode in our podcast series is the first of several featuring Hugh Huddy, who, with his wife Madeleine, is the creative force behind Radio Lento, a podcast series presenting wonderfully evocative soundscapes recorded in the natural environment. From dawn chorus in the Forest of Dean to shingle beaches at Folkestone, each Radio Lento episode presents an immersive listening experience, offering, in Hugh’s own words, ‘weekly sound postcards from beautiful places.’
In this first episode, Hugh reflects on the challenges of recording the natural world; the concept of authenticity and being true to the practice of capturing the environment in sound, in single, unedited takes; and similarities between listening to soundscapes and to music, and the idea of defeating time.
All this week, we are presenting individual chapters from the Cellular Dynamics project, exploring cutting-edge scientific research imagery and video from the School of Biosciences, in dialogue with music.
Filmed during lockdown, the unfolding series brings together image and music in a meditative presentation of both the materials and the methods involved in research, uncovering the hidden beauty in the most mundane of objects in the research laboratory and transforming the process of investigation into an artistic experience, filtered through piano music by Philip Glass, Debussy, John Cage and Tarik O’Regan.
Colyer-Fergusson Hall becomes an immersive platform for highlighting processes operating in both science and music – viral infection and the process of mutation linked to compositional processes in music, together taking the viewer on an odyssey through sub-molecular events at the cellular level.
Chapter One: Abstract
Chapter Two: Materials and Methods:
The series can be viewed as a complete set on our YouTube channel here, including an introduction from Professor Dan Lloyd in the School of Biosciences; read more about the project here.