Category Archives: Virtual Music Project

Are the performing arts more accessible in lockdown? A reflection on accessing live music in lockdown, shielding and solitude.

As part of our occasional guest series, a reflection on the arts in lockdown by Dr Francesca Bernardi, RSA Fellow and independent researcher into children’s rights, dis/abilities and the arts.


Sometimes people like to use the phrase ‘wearing different hats’ as an expression of versatility, in different contexts or in a single space that requires one to assume different guises to get through the day (at the very least). I suppose that might be a good way to start a brief introduction of my own different hats. I would describe my self as a children’s rights and dis/ability activist, but then feel I am neglecting the very medium of such activism: the arts, visual and performing.

Francesca Bernardi

In this time of crisis I have worn a new guise which has been with me always (unnoticed) and has positioned me in a place of vulnerability and, consequently, I am shielding. Responding to this heightened vulnerable self, has caused me to look at personal ideas, hopes and ambitions in a very different light. I have also been hit financially by the changing shape of academia and my potential role within that space. An added sense of displacement comes from my inability to return to Italy (my home) where I would like to continue my research with communities that are seldom heard, in research, the media and their own social spheres.

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Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: where there’s a Will…

The latest from the stables of the Virtual Music Project is the second of two recordings of the Virtual Dance Orchestra’s version of Duke Ellington’s classic tune, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (most appropriate for the current climate…) featuring current fourth-year baritone, Will Clothier, from the School of Archaeology and Conservation.

When not studying or off working on a rhino conservation site in South Africa, Will sings in the University Chamber Choir, and was recently seen treading the stage as the King of Hearts in the Music Department’s production of Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Dream Play. From his home in Leeds, Will sent in a recording, and this morning we’re very pleased to present a leaner mix of the piece, featuring a stripped-down version of the virtual big band behind Will’s voice.

This version follows hard upon the previous incarnation, featuring alumna Steph Richardson singing with a fuller virtual dance band; the next challenge is to combine the two voices to create a virtual duet – stay tuned…

Virtual Music Project: two-piano Doxy

The latest addition to the burgeoning Virtual Music Project features alumnus and pianist, Jim Reid, trading pianistic tricks and turns with Your Loyal Correspondent in a virtual two-piano rendition of Doxy by jazz giant, Sonny Rollins. Originally written by Rollins in 1954 and recorded alongside Miles Davis, and famously included on  Davis’ album as band-leader,  Bags Groove, three years later,  Doxy has since become a classic of the repertoire.

More from the Virtual Music Project later in the week…

Virtual Music Project: Virtual Vivaldi comes together

The Virtual Music Project (see previous post here) is in full swing – adjective applicable if you’re thinking about the Duke Ellington, perhaps not quite so if you’re aware of the Vivaldi Gloria performance which we’re building…then again…!

We’re delighted to share the first fruits of the collaboration which brings together University students, staff, alumni and their families in a virtual rendition of the first movement of Vivaldi’s glowing choral work. Each track has been recorded individually by participants during the current lockdown period, ranging right across the country from Canterbury through London to Somerset, Bristol, Northamptonshire and even across Europe to Germany, Luxembourg and reaching even as far as Japan, proving the universality of music as a means of coming together.

The first movement is also available to listen in a project Playlist on SoundCloud, alongside some of the early mixes of instruments and strings only, and a brief excerpt from an early mix of the virtual Dance Orchestra’s building Duke Ellington’s Dont Get Around Much Anymore.

I’m hugely grateful to everyone involved in bringing this project to digital life, for their enthusiasm, commitment and for taking the time to learn and record their individual contributions; it really is a wonderful example of the University community doing what it is good at – coming together, supporting one another, and making remarkable things happen.

Now onto the second movement and a piece by Mozart…!

Virtual Music Project: early excerpts

The Virtual Music Project is in full swing, building virtual music performances together with student, staff and alumni musicians across the University community. So far, people have submitted recordings for the first movement of Vivaldi’s Gloria, and the virtual Dance Orchestra is building a performance of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (well, with a title like that, it was the obvious piece to do, really, wasn’t it…).

Here are some early extracts; first, from some of the first instrumental tracks to be submitted, featuring strings and oboe:

And here’s an extract from an early voices-only mix, featuring some of the first vocal recordings to arrive:

The next phase has gone live this morning, as we now build the second movement of the Vivaldi, the hugely expressive, richly-dissonant second movement; all the details are on the project’s Facebook Page here for those who want to get involved.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: the Virtual Music Project and making music in isolation

‘May you live in interesting times,’ runs the ancient saying. The second part, possibly lost in the mists of time since it was first uttered, may have been something along the lines of ‘and may you also have to adapt your working practices to cope with sudden, profound change.’ Maybe.

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