Martin Harris Centre Music Online
Usually, we host a free, professional lunchtime concert every Thursday during term time. They feature first-class professional performers from across the world, with an emphasis on music that is slightly off the beaten track. The concerts take place in the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama (where the Department of Music is based) in our wonderful concert hall, the 'Cosmo', and they are usually followed that afternoon by a masterclass or workshop with our students.
Despite the pandemic, the Martin Harris Centre and the Department of Music are delighted to have been able to support professional musicians from across the globe, and to promote excellence and diversity in our series of virtual lunchtime concerts.
You can find performances from this series on YouTube, including from members of our string quartet in residence, the Quatuor Danel (pictured), and members of our instrumental and vocal teaching staff, such as Rachael Clegg, Kathryn Rudge, Gary Farr and Robert Looman. These are the very people who you could be learning from in your courses and workshops next year!
We've had a particular emphasis on musicians working in or with jazz idioms, including:
Yazz Ahmed, winner of the 2020 Ivor Novello Award for Innovation ...
... singer, guitarist and composer Shirley Tetteh ...
... bassist Marcus McLaurine and pianist Glafkos Kontemeniotis.
We look forward to welcoming more wonderful musicians to our series, and in time to having audiences back into the 'Cosmo', the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall that lies at the heart of the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama.
University Chorus and MUMS activities
In September all student union societies across the UK had to move their operations online. Our student-run Chorus and Music Society sought to do the two things that they do in normal times: to get people making music and to get people socialising. There have been weekly online rehearsals since October via Zoom, a range of social activities including virtual discos, and the hugely popular Wellbeing Wednesday activities.
Here is a performance of Elgar's 'The Snow' that was recorded and edited together in November by members of Chorus with the accompaniment conducted by Rob Guy inside the Cosmo.
And from the winter snow to the summer sun here is the MUMS Big Band, who recently put together their virtual performance of Duke Ellington's 'Brasilliance'.
As an example of how composition thrives in a culture based on live performance, even in a pandemic, composition masterclasses and workshops have taken place with the likes of Psappha (with whom we have a longstanding history) and the university’s resident string quartet, the Quatuor Danel. This is all part of our ethos of ensuring that all student compositions receive performances and recordings, in masterclasses or in student performance. It's also a major benefit of being in a city with such a vibrant new music scene.
MANTIS (Manchester Theatre in Sound)
MANTIS is a festival for the live performance of electroacoustic composition and computer-based music. It takes place twice a year and brings together composers from our NOVARS Research Centre. MANTIS performances range from the live diffusion of acousmatic works on the unique MANTIS 56-loudspeaker sound system, to live electronics, analogue, audio-visual, new-media and live instrumental and electronics with ensemble groups on stage.
NOVARS graduates and staff featured alongside their RNCM counterparts in a recent episode of the BBC Radio 3 New Music Show dedicated to the Manchester new music scene today. Look out for works by staff member Prof. Ricardo Climent and recent graduate Kelly Jane Jones.
Social Responsibility and Making a Difference
Our staff and students have been involved in a number of events this year that engage with issues of equality, diversity and inclusion.
Building on our research forum last November on diversity and decolonisation in music studies, in March as part of the annual MUMS Musica Festival -- a celebration of women and music to mark International Women's Day -- we were privileged to welcome guest speakers Alison Buchanan, Artistic Director of Pegasus Opera Company, Natalia Franklin Pierce, Executive Director of Nonclassical, Eleanor Chan, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow from the University of Manchester Music Department, and Vanessa Parker, flautist and member of the Chieneke! Conservatoires Diversity Network. The topic was 'the underrepresentation of women of colour in the classical music industry and how we can enact change'. The event made it clear that it is not enough to put examples and experiences of racism into the spotlight if action to tackle racism does not follow.
Elsewhere, the MUMS Outreach team have not let the pandemic stop them putting material together for the care homes and schools that they would normally work with. The Outreach team usually run an orchestra, choir and composition project in different settings and it's a great example of how student-run activity can complement modules on the course.