Tag Archives: julia usher

Honorary Doctorate for Julia Usher

Julia Usher

Julia Usher at University Centre Colchester graduation ceremony, Colchester Town Hall, 7 Oct 2017

We are delighted to announce that CNM’s Project Director Julia Usher has been awarded an Honorary PhD by the University of Essex, in recognition of her services to music in the county and beyond.

Below is the full text of the oration given at the ceremony by Phil Toms (Head of Schools: Digital Media, Music & Performing Arts, University Centre Colchester).

“It is a great honour for me to introduce Julia Usher, a Colchester-based composer

and musician, who is being awarded an honorary doctorate today. Julia has been nominated for her extensive contribution to music, both locally and nationally.

During her time as a student, Julia studied at the University of York and at Cambridge with Richard Orton and Robert Sherlaw Johnson, and later qualified as a practicing Music Therapist at the prestigious Nordoff–Robbins Centre in London. In 1980, Julia set up her own music publishing company ‘Primavera Music UK’ with her colleague Enid Luff, for which they have just celebrated 34 years of publishing.

As a founding member of the ‘Women in Music’ organisation, set up in 1987, Julia displayed her passion for furthering equality and opportunities for women at a time when equality issues were significantly more prominent and women were underrepresented as composers and in music generally.

Julia settled in Colchester in 1999 and it is fair to say that she has had a most significant influence on the musical life of the town.

She has been a Composer in Residence on three occasions, first in 2002 for the Colchester Youth Chamber Orchestra, in 2004 for the George Watts Museum in Compton for its centenary celebrations and in 2012 where she collaborated with a number of departments at the University of Central Lancashire.

Julia has collaborated with scientists and visual artists on many occasions and several of her compositions have included electronic elements, often incorporating natural and other environmental sounds.

In 2015, Julia was commissioned to compose a piece of music to mark the restoration of the Moot Hall Organ, behind me. “The Art and Industry of Pipework” combined the renewed organ with electronic sounds recorded in the Man Diesel UK Factory in Colchester. She has also written a number of Musical Theatre pieces and in 2003, Metier Records released a CD of five of her compositions.

Julia has been tireless in her support of many community and arts projects in Colchester and further afield in East Anglia. During the past 17 years, she has encouraged composers and performers to experiment with adventurous approaches to music, often working through improvisation.

She has worked closely with the College to run composition and improvisation projects with Colchester Institute students and has taken part in a number of local community arts projects including promoting concerts of new music in both Colchester and elsewhere. For many years, Julia has been actively involved in the ‘Colchester New Music’ organisation.

But it doesn’t stop there, as Musical Director of ‘CoMA EAST’ and ‘Firewire’, a local experimental and improvisation ensemble, Julia takes her time to meet fortnightly and lead the group with exciting modern music. Julia brings huge vision, energy and enthusiasm to all her endeavours. The selfless devotion of her time and her encouragement of others throughout the world of music, over a period of many years, make her a very worthy recipient of this award.

 

 

 

 

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New Structures in Composition 16/09/17: photos and programme

Thanks to everyone who made our recent New Structures in Composition concert such a success; composers, performers and not least the audience of 60 who were crammed into Fitzwilliam College Chapel on a very wet Saturday in September. Some photos from the event are below, and a pdf of the programme can be downloaded here.

In rehearsal… the composers arrive…

The concert… we spy a Vulcan!

New Structures in Composition concert, 16 Sept 2017

New Structures 160917 posterWe can now announce details of our next concert: New Structures in Composition, 5pm Saturday 16 September 2017 at Fitzwilliam College Chapel, Fitzwilliam College, Storeys Way, Cambridge CB3 0DG. Admission free.

With the decline in popularity of traditional compositional structures such as sonata form, it is interesting to explore fields beyond music for new structural paradigms. This academic year, CNM member Francis Knights has a visiting mathematician, Pablo Padilla (UNAM, Mexico), working on a joint project applying mathematical tools to musicological problems (http://formal-methods-in-musicology.webnode.com/). This has inspired a number of ideas for how various algorithms and numerical patterns taken from the natural world could be used in composition.

Performers include Francis Knights, Dan Tidhar (harpsichord, organ), Sarah Cattley, Pablo Padilla, Janet Wheeler (piano), Paula Muldoon (viola), Johanna Finnemann  (viola da gamba), Ellen Jameson (recorder) and Stephen Watkins (recorder and piano). The programme comprises works based upon the following algorithms and concepts:

Geometric methods: three dimensional music

Mark Bellis: Vulcan Chess; piano, harpsichord, organ, recorder, viola

Geometric methods: graphical scores

Colin Blundell: un aleatorio estudiado; harpsichord, viola, recorder

Combinatorial algorithms

Sarah Cattley: A Transformation of Littles; piano duet

Probabilistic ideas: Dice games

Dave Collins: Triple Roll; two keyboards

Iterated maps: self-similarity and fractals

Laurence Glazier: Prelude in C minor and Birthday Barcarolle; solo piano

Arithmetic procedures: Least common multiple and canonical forms

Ivan Moody: Passacaglia; solo harpsichord

The Syracuse conjecture

David and Pablo Padilla: Rondo 3n+1; traverse flute, viola da gamba, harpsichord

Recursivity

Peter Thorne: Whimsical Waltz; solo piano

Music and image

Julia Usher: Calculating differences: transformations at the edge: segmenting a leaf; viola, recorders

Symbols and codes

Ian Wilson: Be fruitful and multiply; piano, harpsichord, organ, recorder, viola, bongos

The Pale Enchanted Gold, 17 June 2017: recital programme announced

CNM_recital_poster_CM_170617-webThis June’s CNM summer afternoon recital by Tim Torry (baritone), Charles Hine (clarinet) and Alan Bullard (piano) will take place at 3pm on 17 June at Castle Methodist Church, Maidenburgh St, Colchester CO1 1TT; entry free, retiring collection.

The programme is based around three key works: Tim Torry’s setting of JRR Tolkein’s ‘The Pale Enchanted Gold’ poem from The Hobbit, Alan Bullard’s setting of Edward Blunden’s ‘A Swan, a Man’, and also Alan’s ‘Three Blues’ for clarinet and piano.

Alongside these, CNM members have contributed new pieces for clarinet and piano, plus song settings of poetry with all kinds of interesting connections to the pieces above. The full lists of members’ works in each category are as follows:

Song settings

A Swan, A Man –  Alan Bullard/Edmund Blunden
The star –  Dylan Christopher/Jane & Ann Taylor
The sun goes down –  Francis Knights/AJ Blustin
The Genealogy of Christ –  Mark Bellis/Gospel of Luke
Oft when warring –  Stephen Watkins/Thomas Hardy
The Pale Enchanted Gold –  Tim Torry/JRR Tolkien
The sleep –  Ian Wilson/E B Browning

Clarinet/bass clarinet and piano

The Bold Princess Royal  – Colin Blundell
Three Blues – Alan Bullard
Whither Now? –  Laurence Glazier
Seeking stillness for solo bass clarinet – Philip Joy
A movement from the Scenes from a train suite – Jenni Pinnock
Dance –  Peter Thorne
Subsequent Darkness –  Julia Usher

The programme also includes three works from the 20th Century English Song repertoire:

It was a lover and his lass – Gerald Finzi
Silver – Armstrong Gibbs
A Sergeant’s Song – Gustav Holst

Celebrating women composers

Celebrating women composers, March 2016
On 12th March 2016, works by CNM members Julia Usher and Jenni Pinnock will feature in a concert celebrating women composers, also including pieces by Judith Weir, Charlotte Bray, Cheryl Frances Hoad, Anna Boyd, Amy Beach, Clara Shumann and others. Soprano Corrina Dolso will be performing along with her new Equinox Voices pop-up choir, joined by Guest Soprano Naomi Scott de Moncloa and pianist Thérèse Miller, at Castle Methodist Church, Maidenburgh Street, Colchester CO1 1TT. The concert runs from 3-4pm; tickets (£5 or free for students) will be available on the door, or can be reserved by e-mailing equinoxvoices@gmail.com. Download the pdf concert poster here.

The choir is seeking competent sopranos and altos to take part in the concert; rehearsals will take place in February/March in Colchester. Please contact equinoxvoices@gmail.com to register.