PhD Presentations Day at the Faculty of Music

Last month, I attended an afternoon of presentations by some of our graduate PhD students in the Faculty of Music.  Working in the Pendlebury Library, we often see these students in and around the Faculty, but don’t often get the chance to find out exactly where their research interests lie.  So, it was a fun and informative afternoon to get a chance to hear them speak passionately about their current research.  Here’s just a flavour of three of them.

Ariana Phillips
Is sorry really the hardest word? Guilt, forgiveness and reconciliation in contemporary music.

Graduate student Ariana’s doctoral research is looking to understand how individuals, groups and societies use music to communicate questions of guilt and its expiation.  Ranging from the public spectacle of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa (since 2000 known as the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation) to the tortured witness of some survivors of the Holocaust,  her project focuses on the perfomance of guilt and forgiveness across cultures.

One of the pieces Ariana’s project includes is “Sorry Song ” which was written by Kerry Fletcher in 1998 for the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. A new verse and chorus has been added to reflect the overwhelming community response since the federal government broke its silence by making the historic Apology in Canberra on 13th February 2008.

Morgan Buckley gave an enlightening talk about creative collaborative composition: and ways to evaluate the distribution of creativity in four new works for solo guitar.  Morgan is well known in the classical guitar world as a performer, and has been commissioning works for the classical guitar as part of his research project on the collaborative relationship between composers and performers during the process of composition. His research is focusing in particular on the role of the performer as a creative agent in the process of composition.

At a Purcell Room recital  in July 2015, some of these works were premiered: Gary Ryan worked with Edwin Roxburgh on his fifth Soliloquy (the first four of his Soliloquys have been written for solo bowed instruments), Craig Ogden worked with David Knotts on Grimm Tales, a work inspired by the stories of Brothers Grimm and Morgan Buckley has been working on With the Ideal Comes the Actual by the young composer Kate Honey, (a former prize-winning undergraduate at the Faculty of Music in Cambridge), which is based on some Buddhist writings from the eighth century.

CompositionWales16 Wales Arts Review Montage

Composition Wales Finalists 2016 Copyright: Wales Arts Review

David Roche (top left above) is a composer  who is the first person to read for a PhD in Music Composition at the University of Cambridge.  His work has been televised and broadcase nationally and internationally.  In April 2016, his orchestral work “Ozartmay” – (Mozart in Pig Latin!) reached the finals of Composition Wales, and was performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

David’s PhD research is entitled “Ontological shifts: process, tonality and microtonality in my compositions.”  I don’t pretend to understand this in any great depth, but very interesting despite that!

So, if this has whetted your appetite, look out for the next presentations which will be posted under the Events section of the Faculty of Music website  – it’s open to all.






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