Cerulean orbits, a new piece by lecturer Dr Jane Stanley, is currently being toured around Australia by violinist Benjamin Beilman and pianist Andrew Tyson under the sponsorship of Musica Viva. The arts organization approached Jane as part of the Hildegard Project, which aims at addressing the gender imbalance in music composition. Jane has stated that ‘initiatives like this are vitally important, so long as they are done carefully. Hopefully this will have a longer-term impact on approaches to commissioning and programming both nationally and internationally.’ Jane herself acknowledges a number of women composers as being crucial in her own training and development, including Dulcie Holland, Anne Boyd, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Liza Lim, Mary Finsterer and Kaija Saariaho.
An interview with Jane has been published at CutCommon magazine.
Concerto Caledonia has also seen success this month, with its latest album, Nathaniel Gow’s Dance Band, being nominated for Best Album at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2016. In addition to senior lecturer Dr David McGuinness being director of the ensemble, Concerto Caledonia also features PhD student Aaron McGregor on the fiddle. The album builds upon David’s research on the Bass Culture Project: musicians looked together at some of the hundreds of music books published by 18th- and 19th-century fiddlers and searched for clues as to how they played. The process led to some unexpected conclusions: as David puts it, “it’s like finding out unexpected secrets about an old friend: the original versions of well-known tunes like the The Fairy Dance or Neil Gow’s Lament for Abercairney are quite different from the ones we know now. And dance bands then generally didn’t play tunes in sets like we’re used to: they’d repeat the same tune until the dancers were finished.”
The subject area has also recently hosted the roundtable ‘Professor Butt meets The Vaselines’. Attended by close to 200 people, John Butt, who is Gardiner Professor of Music, talked to Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly about John’s early awareness of Nirvana during his years teaching in California, the influence of a Catholic/Anglican education on musical careers, rehearsing for hours versus going on stage with no rehearsal at all, and The Tornados. Keith Bruce, who chaired the event, has written a review for The Herald.