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2016 QS World University Rankings

last modified Mar 24, 2016 02:25 PM

The 2016 QS World University Rankings include Performing Arts for the first time, and confirm the position of the Cambridge Faculty of Music among the handful of top university music departments in the world. We are ranked among the top three departments in the UK, and tied for sixth best in the world with Harvard.

2017 Bliss Prize for Composition

last modified Jan 08, 2018 09:26 AM

The Faculty of Music is delighted to announce that Alex Ho is the winner of the 2017 Bliss Prize for Composition. The award is made for the best portfolio of compositions submitted in either the M.Phil or Part II of the Music Tripos.

Alex has had compositions performed by the likes of the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Psappha Ensemble, Ensemble Paramirabo, Unassisted Fold, Roderick Williams, Sholto Kynoch, and the choirs of Christ Church Cathedral and Merton College, Oxford. His music has been heard in venues across the UK, Italy, Canada and China, and has featured in festivals including Sound Festival (Aberdeen), Oxford Lieder Festival, Oxford Festival of the Arts, St. Matthew's Patronal Festival (London), and Highscore Festival (Pavia, Italy). Alex studied music at Oxford University, graduating with first-class honours in 2016, before completing a master’s in composition at Cambridge University in 2017 with Jeremy Thurlow and Christian Mason where he was generously supported by the Les Azuriales Opera Trust and the William Barclay Squire Fund. Alex was also joint-winner of the Philip Bates Composition Competition in 2016 and is an associate of the LSO Soundhub scheme for 2017/18.

2017 Faculty of Music Teaching Prize

last modified Jan 08, 2018 11:09 AM

The Faculty of Music Teaching Prize is awarded annually by the Music Faculty Board to a teacher who is normally not a University Teaching Officer or Affiliated Lecturer but who has made an outstanding contribution to the Faculty's teaching programme.  Nominations for the prize are sought and the prize of £100 is supported by the Brian Kirkbride Douglas Fund.
We are delighted to announce that two prizes have been awarded in 2017, to Matthew Machin-Autenrieth and to Kim Ashton. Many congratulations to them both.

“Mysticism, Magic, and Supernatural in Mediterranean Music”, June 27-29 2014

last modified May 12, 2014 01:23 PM


10th Symposium - Mysticism, Magic, and Supernatural in Mediterranean Music

Hosted by St John's College
June 27–29, 2014

In addition to the papers listed below, Allan Marett (University of Sydney) will give an invited lecture, and Gary Tomlinson (Yale University) will bring our Symposium to a conclusion by commenting both papers and discussions. Goffredo Plastino (University of Newcastle and President of IASPM) will be with us as the Respondent to Allan Maretts's lecture.

The following papers will be presented:

  • Gail Holst-Warhaft (Cornell University) – The Dark Magic of Lament
  • Teodora Konach (Chancellery of the Polish Presidency – Cultural Policy) – Samodivi: Thraciam Mythology in the Bulgarian Epics
  • Sonia Kieser (Ethnomusikologischer Kulturverein, Vienna) – The Influence of Tarantism on the Music Scene in the Italian Region of Salento
  • Nadia Incoronata Inserra (University of Hawaii, Manoa) – The Tarantella Revival in Southern Italy 
  • Jacomien Prins (University of Warwick) – Girolamo Cardano: The Passions and the Power of Music
  • Francesco Del Bravo (Freie Universität, Berlin) – “Il faut méditerraniser la musique”: Nietzsche and the Mediterranean Turn.
  • Linda Barwick (University of Sydney) – Magic and Mysticism in Contemporary Practice of the Garfagnino Maggio
  • Oliver Gerlach (Naples, Italy) – Magic Dance and Its Para-liturgical Function in Southern-Italian Arbëreshë Communities
  • Cassandre Balosso-Bardin (SOAS, London) – Demons, Saints and Xeremies: The Use of Bagpipesin Mallorcan Para-Liturgical Ceremonies
  • Kathleen Broer van Arragon (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) – Mysticism in 12th Century Sicily: the “In Hoc Anni Circulo” Sequence
  • Francesco De Zorzi (University 'Ca' Foscari', Venice) - Between Ecstasy and Choreography: The Ceremony of samâ in the Ottoman-Turkish mevlevi Tradition and Its Development Miriam
  • Rovsing Olsen (Université Paris X-Nanterre) – Actions of magic in some wedding rituals (Morocco) ofsamâ’ in the Ottoman-Turkish mevlevî (‘Whirling Dervishes’) tradition and its development
  • Claudio Rizzoni (University of Rome 'La Sapienza') – From Devotional Singing to Ritual Crisis: Music as Experience of the Sacred in Present Day Naples
  • Loren Chuse (Berkeley, California) – El Duende Flamenco: Magic, Mysticism and Marketing
  • John C. Franklin (The University of Vermont) – Kinyras: The Divine Lyre
  • Ruth F. Davis (Corpus Christi College Cambridge) – "Jacob Bsiri and the Festival of Miracles: Hommage to a Jewish Musician turned Holy Man”



Marcello Sorce Keller, MMS Study Group Chair 

British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award: Francesca Vella

last modified Apr 26, 2019 02:23 PM

The Faculty of Music is pleased to announce that Francesca Vella has received a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award for the project Sounding (Out) 19th-Century Italy, which will run from April 2019 to March 2020.

Despite the countless sounds and noises that have characterised the region and its people over the centuries, Italy is still largely associated, in both the popular and scholarly imagination, with the ‘soundtrack’ that supposedly accompanied its birth as a nation-state: opera. Sounding (Out) 19th-Century Italy will bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars with an aim to challenge the pervasive cultural misconceptions—the myths of Italian distinctiveness and exoticism—that have thrived on this orthodox sonic marker of Italianness. The working group will reappraise the multifaceted phenomenon of sound during Italy’s long 19th century from cultural, historical-scientific and ethnographic perspectives. Two forums will facilitate dialogue across disciplines and with a non-scholarly audience: an academic workshop; and an outreach panel and live performance. Further events and virtual spaces for discussion will include a launch talk, a reading group and a website gathering blog posts and multimedia material.

A Fellowship for Marin Alsop and a day to remember for Cambridge conductors

last modified Nov 14, 2017 04:01 PM

On the morning of Thursday 9 November, a small group of students and fellows gathered in Newnham College’s Old Labs in anticipation of the arrival of conductor Marin Alsop – a household name, perhaps best known in England for conducting the Last Night of the Proms in 2013 and 2015 – who was at the college to accept an Honorary Fellowship. She entered without any fuss, and modestly received the effusive welcome of College Director of Music Delphine Mordey, who gave a taste of Marin’s impressive list of achievements, describing her as ‘one of the few classical musicians for whom the label superstar is no exaggeration’.

Then the questions kicked off with a common query – how does Marin go about preparing a new piece to conduct? Marin said that she often finds newly composed pieces easier to approach, as without a long performing history, she is free to make her own decisions. When conducting well-known works, however, she feels obliged to make full use of the available recordings, which can be very time consuming and can ultimately lead to greater confusion.

Unknown 1With several aspiring conductors in the room, there were a few questions surrounding the process of becoming a conductor. Marin suggested finding a niche as you're getting started – for her this was American music – which will make you stand out from the crowd. On conducting courses and their often very specific requirements, she said that what interests her most in a young conductor is musicality and a hunger to improve. Even a conductor with poor coordination skills, Marin told us, could go far with genuine dedication and musicality. She advised in particular practising in front of a full-length mirror. Later on, when asked about controlling an orchestra, and whether fear plays a role in this, Marin seemed to strike a chord with the audience when she said that although she would prefer to be liked, respect is more important for her than being feared or liked.

Marin AllsopAnother topic raised was that of Marin’s experiences as a female conductor – hardly surprising as she is known for being the first woman to lead a major American orchestra (from 2005) and to conduct the Last Night of the Proms (2013). This discussion was broached through a question on her opinions of conducting courses intended just for women. Marin was eloquent on the difficulties female conductors often face in getting opportunities to conduct, as well as on the issues which particularly affect women, and which can be addressed in female-specific workshops: for example, confident rehearsal or conducting techniques may be construed as overbearing in a woman, but a sign of strength in a man; on the other hand, lighter hand gestures might be seen as 'weak' or 'girly' from a woman, but 'sensitive' from a man.

UnknownMarin actively tries to use her influence to help address this gender imbalance, such as by putting on various masterclasses for female conductors – including one coming up at the Southbank centre in February – as well as helping women to gain access to conducting opportunities, which she specifies should be relatively low pressure, and not ‘make or break’. Marin also touched on her desire to expand participation more broadly: for example, shocked by the lack of ethnic diversity in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which she directs, Marin set up OrchKids, a scheme offering music teaching as well as an evening meal to children from impoverished areas of the city.                                                                                                                                                                           The questions could have gone on much longer, but in the end we had to wrap up so that Marin could leave for the lunch being put on in her honour, and the students were left slightly star-struck. The session was a fantastic opportunity for all involved, and Marin Alsop impressed hugely with her wisdom, friendliness and evident desire for artistic authenticity.

Laura Dunkling is a third-year music student at Christ’s College. A keen conductor, she conducts the University of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as the Christ’s College Orchestra.

Abandoned Liszt opera brought to life – 170 years later

last modified Mar 07, 2017 08:38 AM

A great Italian opera by Franz Liszt – which was left incomplete and has lain largely forgotten in a German archive for nearly two centuries – will be given its world premiere this summer after being resurrected by a Cambridge academic.

David Trippett, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge, first discovered the opera languishing in an archive in Weimar more than ten years ago. A trailer with extracts of the opera being performed can be seen here, and a short aria can be heard here.

Known only to a handful of Liszt scholars, the manuscript – with much of its music written in shorthand and only one act completed – was assumed to be fragmentary, often illegible and consequently indecipherable.

However, after Trippett spent the last 2 years working critically on the manuscript, a ten-minute preview will now be performed for the first time in public as part of the world-famous BBC Cardiff Singer of the World contest in June.

“In 1849 Liszt began composing an Italian opera, but he abandoned it halfway through and the music he completed has lain silently in an archive for nearly 170 years,” said Trippett. “This project is about bringing it to life for the very first time.”

“The music that survives is breath-taking – a unique blend of Italianate lyricism and harmonic innovation. There is nothing else quite like it in the operatic world. It is suffused with Liszt’s characteristically mellifluous musical language, but was written at a time that he was first discovering Wagner’s operas.

“The only source for this opera is a single manuscript containing 111 pages of music for piano and voices. It was always assumed to be impossible to piece together, but after examining the notation in detail, it became clear Liszt had notated all the cardinal elements for act 1. You have to think through the artistic decisions traceable in the manuscript and try to reconstruct the creative process, to see how Liszt’s mind went this way and that.”

A critical edition of the music for act 1 will be published by Editio Musica Budapest (Universal Music Publishing) in 2018. Although Trippett has worked alone on rescuing the music Liszt notated, Cambridge’s Francesca Vella has worked on deciphering the Italian text alongside musicologist David Rosen, whose principal role has been to translate the libretto into English.

The libretto, based on Lord Byron’s tragedy Sardanapalus, tells the story of Sardanapalo, King of Assyria, a peace-loving monarch, more interested in revelry and women than politics and war. He deplores violence and brutality, and, perhaps naively, he believes in the innate goodness of humankind, but is overthrown by rebels and burns himself alive with his lover, Mirra, amid scents and spices in a great inferno.

A ten-minute scene from the opera will be performed at the final of the BBC Singer of the World event by Armenian soprano and rising talent Anush Hovhannisyan.

“In effect, the manuscript has been hiding in plain sight for well over 100 years,” added Trippett. “It was written for Liszt’s eyes only, and has various types of musical shorthand, with spatial gaps in the manuscript. A lot of it is very hard to read, but the scruffiness is deceptive. It seems Liszt worked out all the music in his head before he put pen to paper, and to retrieve this music, I’ve had to try and put myself into the mind of a 19th-century composer, a rare challenge and a remarkable opportunity.

“Fortunately, Liszt left just enough information to retrieve what was evidently the continuous musical conception he had at the time. We will never know exactly why he abandoned his work on the opera and I suspect he would have been surprised to learn that it is resurfacing in the 21st century. But I like to think he would have smiled on it.”

Ahead of the BBC event in June, Trippett and his colleagues are putting the finishing touches to a documentary film for the University of Cambridge chronicling the resurrection of Liszt’s forgotten masterpiece, with singers Anush Hovhannisyan (soprano), Samuel Sakker (tenor) and Arshak Kuzikyan (bass-baritone). This will be released on 15 May.

“Who else gets to premiere a new opera by a superstar composer from two centuries ago?” said soprano Hovhannisyan. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the entire process of making it work – from thinking about the character and what Liszt would want – has been a privilege. We have had a wonderful, deeply creative and imaginative time piecing this together and I feel very blessed to have been a part of it.”

Acquisition: Quartet of Classical Bows for Instrument Collection

last modified Jan 21, 2015 12:24 PM

The Faculty of Music has taken delivery of a quartet of classical bows that will be a great asset to the instrument collection, enabling string players of modern and historical instruments try familiar repertoire from Mozart to Mendelssohn (and beyond) using bows of the period.

Anyone interested in seeing or trying the bows should contact Maggie Faultless, Director of Performance Studies.

Leading bow-maker Philip Brown writes:

The bows that we made for the Cambridge Music Faculty, were based on two fabulous bows that I sold two years ago, a bow by Mauchand and a bow by Nicholas Leonard Tourte, both  from about 1770/1780. Both  bows were of the high headed, high frog type often associated with Cramer and both of the most exquisitely tight grained pernambuco. The  Mauchand was the better made bow (it’s curious how his output is  overshadowed by Tourte) and was a pleasure to play, but the Tourte made a bigger, rounder sound. So we took design elements of both bows.
After two bows were made in pernambuco we found that the response was not quite good enough  and so opted for stiffer snakewood which produced a bow closer to the originals (and was still historically appropriate). Deciding on what kind of camber to use was an area that I really struggled with. My experience of making bows of this period with commonly less camber is that modern players struggle to understand them and so I opted to copy the camber that was present in the excellently working Tourte bow. Whether or not it was original or not no one can say but it has some interesting features: 1) The low point of the camber  is way down the stick towards the handle - which is harder to make but improves the playability. 2) there is no camber behind the head. This is quite alarming for the modern player as the bow starts to be convex at this point which looks unnerving,  but it adds to the "grab" of the string which helps the start up of the (gut) string.  It is sometimes said that Tourte himself (or his brother) re-cambered the bows at a later date to improve the playability and its possible that this is what we are copying. No-one knows!
I find it interesting that when we look back at the development of the bow we try to pigeon hole models as being for a specific date but this denies the reality of the human condition. When Ford Motors bring out  a new car model, only a small percentage  of Ford owners  can afford to buy it, they carry on with the old model until its worn out.  So, although bows like These Tourte, Mauchand and Dodd  models may have been the cutting edge of technology at the end of the 18th century, the majority of players were still using fixed frog  models. This is also evidenced by  masses of such simple fixed frog bows recorded in workshop inventories at the end of the 18th Century.

Acis and Galatea at the Senate House

last modified Mar 01, 2018 10:30 AM

To celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the very first performance of Acis and Galatea, you are invited to a semi-staged performance in the
historic surroundings of the Senate House. Handel's popular pastoral opera, based on the love story from Ovid's Metamophoses, tells of the
love between the shepherd Acis and sea-nymph Galatea, thwarted by the jealous giant Polyphemus.

Nicholas Mulroy performs the role of Acis alongside directing the Cambridge University Chamber Choir. Galatea is performed by Helena Moore and Louis Marlowe will play the role of Polythemus. The orchestra, performing on the University's superb collection of historical instruments, is led by Margaret Faultless and includes some of the finest players in the University.

Book now to make sure that you don’t miss out! 

ALUMNI: Michael Mofidian wins 2017 Pavarotti Prize

last modified Sep 25, 2017 11:19 AM

Michael Mofidian has been announced as the 2017 winner of the Pavarotti Prize at the Royal Academy of Music. The Pavarotti Prize is awarded to a final-year student at the Royal Academy of Music who are judged on performances of   contrasting pieces from mainstream operatic repertoire.

The prize was adjudicated by Joseph Karaviotis, James Conway, Gareth Hancock, Dame Felicity Lott and Jean Rigby.

Alumnus success in Royal Over-Seas League section finals

last modified Mar 07, 2017 08:30 AM

Many congratulations to Music alumnus Nicholas Mogg who has won the Royal Over-Seas League Singers' Final.





An exciting new opportunity for Cambridge music students to study performance at the Royal Academy of Music

last modified Oct 01, 2013 02:41 PM

A new scheme has been established to enable up to ten Cambridge Music students each year to take lessons at the Royal Academy of Music in London alongside their studies at the University. Students selected for the scheme will be assigned a teacher at the Royal Academy and, in addition to receiving individual tuition on their principal instrument, they will be invited to attend a number of departmental performance classes at the Royal Academy. The scheme is the initiative of Margaret Faultless, Director of Performance Studies in Cambridge and also Director of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy. Martin Ennis, Chairman of the Music Faculty Board, commented: ‘Cambridge University has a long tradition of fostering performance, and over the years many of our best students have gone on to London for further studies after completing their degree in Cambridge. However, this new scheme gives the cream of our performers the best of two worlds: they can enjoy international-level tuition and attend performance classes at a leading conservatoire while pursuing a largely academic course at one of the world’s most renowned research universities. It’s an unbeatable combination, and we expect the competition for places to be intense.’

Appointment of the Ligeti Quartet as the first holders of the Cambridge Chamber Music Residency, supported by funding from the Radcliffe Trust and Homerton College

last modified Jun 06, 2016 10:03 AM
Appointment of the Ligeti Quartet as the first holders of the Cambridge Chamber Music Residency, supported by funding from the Radcliffe Trust and Homerton College

Ligeti Quartet © Mike Massaro

The Faculty of Music is delighted to welcome the Ligeti Quartet as the first holders of the Cambridge Chamber Music Residency. Their breath-taking performances, both technically and musically, coupled with outstanding artistic plans for working with student composers and performers will undoubtedly be an exciting new development in Cambridge music-making. The quartet will be working in particular with graduate composers but will also be performing, coaching and creating events for performers. Their current work crosses many artistic boundaries and will be able to expand further within the Cambridge environment.

They will be working closely with Richard Causton, Reader in Composition, John Hopkins, composer and Director of Studies at Homerton, and Maggie Faultless, Director of Performance at the Faculty of Music. 

The quartet said this about their appointment:

"We are delighted to be the inaugural ensemble for the Cambridge Chamber Music Residency. As a quartet dedicated to the performance of modern and contemporary music, and interested in collaborative and innovative projects, we believe we will make a strong and lasting contribution to music at Cambridge. The residency will be a tremendous opportunity for us to engage with a vibrant community of composers, musicologists, and other performers, at the Faculty of Music and in Homerton College."

Ligeti Quartet

Formed in 2010, The Ligeti Quartet is dedicated to performing modern and contemporary music, commissioning new works, and engaging a diverse audience. Comprising graduates from the Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music and the University of Oxford, the quartet has established a reputation as leading exponents of new music, with engagements taking them throughout the UK and abroad. They have performed at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Barbican Hall, Kings Place, and international festivals including the Pablo Casals Festival (France), Incubate Festival (Netherlands), Musik 21 Nachwuchsfestival (Germany) and 'HellHot!' New Music Festival (Hong Kong). They have also performed in an IMAX Theatre, museums, galleries, theatres, pubs, a fishing boat, and on ‘icebergs’ outside the Shell headquarters in London as part of a Greenpeace campaign.

The quartet were selected for the St John’s Smith Square Young Artists Scheme 2015­16, for which they are performing in three concerts and undertaking education and community outreach work. They are also resident quartet at the University of Sheffield for 2015­17, where they are performing and leading composition workshops regularly.

The Ligeti Quartet regularly works with artists outside classical music; they have performed with musicians such as Wadada Leo Smith, Shabaka Hutchings, Laura Jurd, and You Are Wolf. They have gained a reputation for an innovative approach to new music, through work with performance artists, video, actors and DJs. They also maintain a particular interest in education, regularly leading workshops and recording pieces by student composers.

The Ligeti Quartet is grateful to have received commissioning grants from the Britten­Pears Foundation, Hinrichsen Foundation, and the RVW Trust. They have also been generously supported by Help Musicians UK, the Tillett Trust, and the Zetland Foundation to further their training with the European Chamber Music Academy, under the tutelage of Hatto Beyerle of the Alban Berg Quartet. They have had coaching with members of the Arditti, Chilingirian, Lindsay, and Kronos Quartets. In April 2016 they played for the Kronos Quartet’s ‘Creating a New Repertoire’ programme at the Carnegie Hall. 

Min Yen Ong Appointed to Faculty of Music

last modified May 15, 2019 04:23 PM

The Faculty is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Min Yen Ong as a Teaching Associate in the Faculty of Music from 2019-22.

Dr Ong is an ethnomusicologist with regional interests in music of Pacific island cultures (Hawaii and Fiji) and music of China – in particular, Chinese opera. She holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from SOAS, University of London. Her current research interests focus on the themes of music and place, sustainability and agency. Min has taught at the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield and SOAS. Prior to academia, Min worked in various sectors of the music industry in the UK and abroad.

New West Road Concert Hall Manager

last modified Mar 20, 2019 09:29 AM

The Faculty of Music is delighted to announce the appointment of Anthony Brice who joins us as the West Road Concert Hall Manager from May 2019, succeeding George Unsworth who leaves after 18 successful years in the role.

Following a Music degree from the University of Southampton Anthony first worked with the Orchestra of St John’s, Smith Square before moving to Newcastle to join Northern Sinfonia in 1999. After eleven years in the North East – including the move into and opening of Sage Gateshead – Anthony relocated to Asia in 2010 as General Manager of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Missing the UK weather Anthony and his family returned to the UK in 2015, joining AAM in early 2016 and taking on the role of General Manager at the start of 2017. 

Having left his trombone in storage whilst in Singapore Anthony now plays regularly with Forest Philharmonic in Walthamstow, and occasionally with other groups.

Arthur Bliss Prize for Composition

last modified Jan 14, 2014 02:16 PM

Kate Honey, who graduated from the Music Faculty in June 2013, has been awarded the Arthur Bliss Prize for Composition in 2013.

Kate is a very bright and talented composer, who is both sensitive and thinks deeply about what writing music means in its social and political contexts. Her recent works show a keen sense of musical gesture and a rare ability to make highly coherent personal statements. She has a very acute ear, and the ideas and imagination to develop into a very fine composer. This award of the Bliss Prize comes at just the right moment in her career, and it should help to generate awareness of this remarkable emerging talent.  Kate is currently living in Cambridge, continuing to compose and participate in Cambridge's musical life in preparation for further study in composition. She is currently working on a PRSF funded commission for violin and piano, to be premiered at a Kettle's Yard new music concert on April 27th.

Listen to some of Kate's work on SoundCloud.

Dominic de Grande awarded Arthur Bliss Prize for Composition

last modified Jun 22, 2017 09:02 AM

Many congratulations to Dominic de Grande, former M.Phil student, who has been awarded the Arthur Bliss Prize for Composition in 2016. The award is made for the best portfolio of compositions submitted in either the M.Phil or Part II of the Music Tripos.

Over the past 10 years, Dominic de Grande has composed music for an array of award wining projects, including: BBC and Channel 4 documentaries, independent films, art installations, choreography, ensemble and choral works. The pieces composed for this portfolio are all based on the Psychogeography of sound.  Each piece is an imaginative and narrative based response to extensive walks that Dominic has taken around London and are built up using a multitude of found-sounds, samples, improvisations, scored materials & lyrics. To listen to the winning portfolio, click below.

Listen to the winning portfolio:
Dominic's website:
The Bliss Trust:



Arts & Humanities Case Study: Cambridge research strikes a chord

last modified Apr 01, 2015 11:39 AM

Founded in 2003, the Centre for Music and Science is reshaping our understanding of music and its role in society. By showing that music and language are complementary components of humans' communication toolkit, the Centre's research is opening up new ways of sharing information and understanding.

“When we talk about music, and we talk about language, we are not talking about two different things”

Professor Ian Cross

“The application of [Professor Cross's] theories will help us to ensure that people working for BG remain free from injury and are able to go home to their friends and family each and every day”

BG Group

Music and language

By tuning into the differences and similarities between music and language Professor Ian Cross and colleagues at the Centre for Music and Science are changing our understanding of these two fundamental human traits.

Working with collaborators across the world and across disciplines, his scholarship – both theoretical and experimental – supports the idea that music and language are complementary parts of an underlying human communicative toolkit.

Drawing on evidence as diverse as mother-infant interaction, turn-taking in conversation and the common features shared by music across cultures, Cross shows that both music and language can enhance social bonding, and says that because it enhances group solidarity, music is best interpreted as a communicative medium for managing situations of social uncertainty.

Not surprisingly, his ideas have fascinated the public. They are widely discussed in the media and in the popular science book The World in Six Songs.

The practical applications of his work are equally diverse, from using music to increase empathy and foster mutual understanding, to creating better sonic environments in which to live and work.

It's even research that is helping save lives, according to the BG Group. After meeting Cross through Pembroke College's Corporate Partnership Programme, the international oil and gas company decided to use shared song at the start of workers' shifts to reinforce safety messages and boost cooperation.


More than sound

Music is part of all human cultures. But music is far more than sound: it is shaped by biology and culture. Language too is a universal human trait. But what function does music perform, what jobs does language do, and should we consider them separately?

Although much of Western music is performed on stage, for the other half of the world, and even for many in Western societies, music is participatory. It is in this context, where music is both action and interaction, that the boundaries between music and language blur.

Like other areas of interdisciplinary research, it's a fertile but largely unexplored field. While we have a good understanding, for example, of concert hall acoustics and robust measures to characterise noise, there is much that remains a mystery about how the sounds that surround us in our everyday lives influence the quality of our emotions and the effectiveness of our thought processes.

The challenge, then, is to develop ways of studying how people feel, act and interact through music. And to use that understanding to improve how humans learn, communicate and relate to each other.


Tuning in to others

At Cambridge, Cross is pioneering research on music and language. Intensely collaborative, his theoretical and experimental work draws on many fields, from acoustics and archaeology to linguistics and cognitive science.

His studies involve both children and adults, tuning into the interplay between music and language, and the social role of making music together.

Compared with the transactional nature of language, music emphasises the relational. So, by providing a space for people to interact in a non-confrontational way, can music enhance our sense of affiliation and our ability to empathise with others?

Cross's work suggests it can. Over the course of a year, his team worked with more than 50 children aged 8-11 years old. The study found that regularly interacting through music in small groups significantly improved children's ability to empathise with others, results with applications in many areas including therapy, and with policy implications for the importance of musical participation in helping shape stable societies.

Athena Swan Bronze Award for the Faculty of Music

last modified May 07, 2019 09:52 AM

The Faculty of Music is pleased to announce that we have been successful in our application for an Athena SWAN Bronze Award. 

This award is given to recognise that in addition to institution-wide policies, the Faculty is working to promote gender equality and to identify and address challenges particular to the Faculty and our discipline.

Originally established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine, Advance HE’s Athena SWAN Charter was expanded in 2015 to include those in the arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, colleagues in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

Details of our application can be downloaded and further information on the University's work in this area is available here.

Ben Glassberg wins prestigious Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors

last modified Sep 19, 2017 08:19 AM

Music alumnus, Ben Glassberg triumphed this weekend, winning audience, orchestra and jury prizes at the 55th Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors.

Chairman of the jury, Leonard Slatkin, later tweeted:
"Heartiest congratulations to @glassyben for winning the conducting competition in Besançon. Truly gifted with a fine career ahead."

While at Cambridge, Ben held the position of 2013–14 Cambridge University Musical Society Conducting Scholar, and after completing his Music degree he studied conducting with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music.

In Summer 2017, Ben worked at Glyndebourne as assistant on a new production by Claus Guth of La Clemenza de Tito with Robin Ticciati conducting. Due to Ticciati's indisposition, Ben conducted a performance of the opera, making him one of the youngest conductors to debut at the Glyndebourne Festival in its history. Invited regularly to the Festival,  Ben will return in summer 2018  to assist on Madamma Butterfly and in the autumn of 2018 on tour with La Traviata.

Also in the 2017–18 season Ben will make his debut with Kammerakademie Potsdam in both symphonic concerts and in a new production of  Cosi fan Tutte as part of the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg.  He will assist Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and returns to work with Antonello Manacorda at the Theater an der Wien on a new production A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Damiano Michieletto.  Future seasons include a return to La Monnaie to assist and to conduct performances in their new Da Ponte Cycle.






Ben Graves selected for RSNO Composers' Hub

last modified Oct 19, 2016 12:19 PM

Ben Graves is one of five emerging UK composers have been selected to benefit from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s RSNO Composers’ Hub, the second annual initiative to develop the talents of individuals in the early stages of their careers.

See full news story here.

Birtwistle Festival Success

last modified Dec 03, 2014 09:56 AM

The Independent

Modernist master's medieval delights

Michael Church
Published 24 November 2014

Harrison Birtwistle's 80th-birthday celebrations go on and on, the latest bout being a series of concerts, organised by Richard Causton, at King's College, Cambridge, in which Birtwistle's music was interlarded with the music of his peers, plus that of the medieval composers he has always level – as in the evensong at King's College chapel in which Birtwistle's austerely graceful motet Pange Lingua was juxtaposed with a Magnificat by Robert Fayrfax (1464–1521).

The concerts on the final day represented a rallying of Britain's new-music community in which works by two of its youngest members – Jae-Mon Lee and Patrick Brennan – shared programmes with new works by Causton and Alexander Goehr and some vintage Birtwistleana. And seldom are composers so well served as they were here, with the British pianist Nicolas Hodges, the Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen, and members of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group – each a virtuoso – under the magisterial direction of Oliver Knussen.

Of the new works, the one which shone most brightly was Goehr's Between the Lines, suggesting its derivation from Schoenberg's Opus 9 with an allusiveness obliquely refracted through a glowing lyricism.

The Observer

Fiona Maddocks
Published 16 November 2014

Amity wins over enmity in musical life […. ]

Such celebrations, fortunately, are not restricted to the departed. An equally luminous bunch of composers turned up to hear music by Harrison Birtwistle and others in a four-day festival, Secret Theatres, in Cambridge. The event was organised by Richard Causton, a university lecturer but first and foremost a composer who has admired Birtwistle for three of his four decades. To mark his older colleague’s 80th birthday, Causton gathered some of Birtwistle’s favourite musicians, such as the Arditti Quartet and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and programmed music from the medieval period to the present with – honouring Birtwistle’s taste – not too much in between.

At a lunchtime concert in King’s College Chapel, the pianist Nicolas Hodges and cellist Anssi Karttunen played duo and solo works, anchored around three “songs without words” by Birtwistle which he calls Bogenstrich: tiny, taut and elegiac pieces inspired by Rilke. In warm-hearted gesture, Causton included a work by his own doctoral pupil, the Seoul-born Jae-Moon Lee, alongside one of his own, both world premieres.

Whereas Jae-Moon’s piano solo, Tangram, exhilaratingly executed by Hodges, was too burdened by its subtle pattern of knots, puzzles and shapes, Causton’s piece was immediately clear and powerful. The two-part De Profundis for solo cello, played with control and feeling by Karttunen, explored the lyrical qualities of the instrument from bottom register up, as if encountering its aural riches and possibilities for the first time. Then the duo played Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in C, Op. 102 No. 1 which, particularly through the prism of these contemporary pieces, sounded as if written yesterday. “He never does what you think,” Birtwistle was heard to say, one composer explaining, in simplest terms, the genius of another.


The Sunday Times

Strange bedfellows
Surprises all round as a pair of unlikely couplings give our critic a thrill

Paul Driver
Published 23 November 2014

It was a fairly bracing surprise to find myself in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge, not to hear some glorious Renaissance polyphony or the exquisitely sung Christmas carols for which the place is world-famous, but for one of the most rebarbative early pieces of Birtwistle. This was the closing concert, given by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group under Oliver Knussen, of a three-day festival, Secret Theatres, marking Birtwistle's 80th birthday.

And, in fact, just before, at an evensong in which the choir was directed by Stephen Cleobury, there had indeed been an outpouring of Renaissance mellifluousness – music by Robert Fayrfax – alongside a Lullaby and motet (Pange Lingua, from his opera The Last Supper) by Birtwistle himself. Little incongruence here between modernism and the Renaissance, or the uniquely vaulted surroundings – for choral singing never changes all that radically. But later it was a different story.

Silbury Air, flaunting its deceptive title (no music less aria-like), brought into the sanctuary – or nave, anyhow – a thudding, strident evocation of prehistoric Wiltshire. The drummer was like a page hierophant, thought not lifting his sticks up high, as requested on occasion in the score; nor was the pulsing textural insistency as searing in the cathedral acoustic as it is apt to be in, say, the Queen Elizabeth Hall. But the work fared better than his short, overture-like Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum, whose jostling, juggled interior rhythmic mechanisms were not ideally distinguishable.

Acoustics were not, though, a bar to the vivid, driven, two-movement Chamber Symphony by Richard Causton, organiser of the festival, nor Patrick Brennan's brief but highly effective "spectralist" excursion, Polly Roe; even if Alexander Goehr's new chamber symphony, ...Between the Lines, with its intricate contrapuntal working, would have benefited from a more focused resonance.


The Times

BCMG/Knussen at King’s College, Cambridge

By Richard Morrison

Nowhere has Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th birthday been celebrated more than at Cambridge. The composer has been the focus of an intensive three-day festival called Secret Theatres, a title that evokes not just one of his most celebrated instrumental works, but also the feeling — commonly experienced when hearing his music — of a mysterious ritual in progress, thrilling the ear even as it defies comprehension.

Organised by Richard Causton, the festival featured not only Birtwistle’s pieces but also some by associates and student composers. It was a heady mix, as the final concert by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group under the indefatigable Oliver Knussen demonstrated. Causton’s own Chamber Symphony was eventful: plangent brass fanfares and fierce percussion contrasted with dark, desultory episodes and a wonderfully tranquil end to the first movement. Causton says the piece contrasts “the vitality of live music-making and the disembodiment of reproduced sound”; that certainly came across.

Much shorter was Polly Roe by Patrick Brennan, a Cambridge PhD student. The title sounds folky but it is two musical puns (think polyphonic and tone-rows) and Brennan’s programme note alludes alluringly to “the abstraction of spectral sonorities”. Yet Polly Roe turned out to be a vivacious instrumental whirlwind. I’m afraid it eclipsed the British premiere of Alexander Goehr’s chamber symphony, between the Lines. In a different acoustic Goehr’s characteristically detailed contrapuntal writing might make more impact, but in King’s College Chapel it was all a blur dominated by a hyperactive tuba.

Happily, the two Birtwistle classics that framed the concert — Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum and Silbury Air — sounded fantastic in that resonant space, with Knussen ensuring that the composer’s masterly use of foreground and background came across clearly, those sour, jagged brass refrains crashing like rock-falls. It was great, too, to have an example of Birtwistle’s more lyrical, recent style: the 2011 work Fantasia upon All the Notes, which rises from nothing to a rich, Arabic-tinged mesh of instrumental lines, then floats towards silence again.


The Telegraph

By Ivan Hewett

This was one of many clever and revealing juxtapositions offered by Secret Theatres, a three-day survey of Harrison Birtwistle’s music which celebrated his 80th birthday year. Organised by the composer Richard Causton, it ranged across solo, choral and chamber music, and featured top-rank performers. It mingled Birtwistle’s own music with the fascinatingly strange medieval pieces that he loves, and with music by his contemporaries such as Alexander Goehr (his ingenious, sharply coloured between the lines...Chamber Symphony) as well as student composers from Cambridge. 

In all it was admirable, but placing the last day’s events in King's Chapel was a mixed blessing. From my back seat much of the detail of the lunchtime concert from cellist Anssi Karttunen and pianist Nicholas Hodges was swallowed up by the vast acoustic. Of the two new pieces, Jae-Moon Lee’s Tangram for piano exploded into being with promising energy, but insisted on its main idea (shapes shifting around a fixed note) a bit too much. The logic of Richard Causton’s new piece De Profundis was more subtle, and as the title suggests led the ear down by degrees to a depth that was profound in both senses. 

Causton, who conceived the series, is a serious man who feels art should assert spiritual values against the empty consumerism of modern life. That was the message of his brand-new Chamber Symphony, played in the evening concert from the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. At one point Causton conjured an aural image of banality, just so he could vanquish it with radiant, brass-drenched inventions of his own. Which was admirable, but the short, brilliantly conceived Polly Roe by Patrick Brennan soared higher, just because it wasn’t weighed down by a moral message. 

As for Birtwistle’s Silbury Air, Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum, and Fantasia upon All the Notes – all brilliantly played by the Group – they soared too, for much the same reason. And they also pointed beyond themselves to an unspoken mystery, something only a composer of genius can do.

Arthur Bliss Prize 2018

last modified Mar 14, 2019 04:39 PM
Arthur Bliss Prize 2018

Stephane Crayton

The Faculty of Music is delighted to announce that Stephane Crayton is the winner of the 2018 Arthur Bliss Prize for Composition. The award is made for the best portfolio of compositions submitted in either the M.Phil or Part II of the Music Tripos.

Booking is open for November Music Masterclass

last modified Sep 01, 2017 04:24 PM

Booking is now open for our next Music Masterclass on Saturday, 4 November 2017. This event is open to all Year 12 students.

Please see for more information, and to book a place.


Booking open for Music Masterclass on 15 July

last modified Jun 12, 2017 03:30 PM

The Music Masterclass on 15 July 2017 is for academically able Year 12 students from any school/college (independent or maintained). It offers students a true flavour of undergraduate study and an introduction to the University of Cambridge.

The Music Masterclasses provide students with an opportunity to explore topics of interest beyond what is covered within the A Level syllabus and offer the chance to experience typical undergraduate teaching at Cambridge.

The Masterclass includes:

  • two taster lectures delivered by leading academic members of staff from the Faculty of Music
  • the opportunity to discuss and ask questions
  • an introduction to the Cambridge admissions process
  • the opportunity to hear about life as a Cambridge student from current undergraduates

Bookings can be made here:

Booking open for Music Taster Day for Year 10 and Year 11 students

last modified Nov 02, 2018 10:08 AM

The Faculty of Music will be holding a Taster Day on 24 November for Year 10 and Year 11 students from maintained sector schools and colleges. The day will offer a chance to explore just how rich and varied the study of music can be: participants will attend sample lectures and workshops; a talk about studying Music at University, including a Q and A session; the chance to talk to current students; and a tour of a Cambridge college.

For more details about our Taster Days go to:

If you have any questions at all about this event, please get in touch with Delphine at

To book a place on our Yr 10 and Yr 11 Taster day, please fill out our online booking form here.

Bookings now open for July Music Taster Day

last modified Apr 04, 2017 04:42 PM

Bookings are now open for our Music Taster Day on Friday 14 July 2017.

If you are in year 12 at an state or maintained school, why not come along and see what it's like to study music at Cambridge?

For more information, visit:



Bookings now open for Spring Music Taster Days

last modified Jul 19, 2018 02:39 PM

Bookings are now open for our Spring Music Taster Days on Friday 23 March and Saturday 21 April 2018.

If you are in year 12 at a state or maintained school, why not come along and see what it's like to study music at Cambridge?

For more information, and to book your place, click here.

Bookings now open for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools

last modified Jan 27, 2017 12:05 PM

Bookings for the Sutton Trust Summer School are now open. For more information see

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship applications hosted by the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge

last modified Jun 18, 2014 02:13 PM

The British Academy will shortly invite applications under their prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme, with a deadline expected to be in October 2014 . These fellowships fund three years of research on a topic of the applicant’s choice, and applications have to be hosted by a UK higher education institution.

If you would like to apply through the University of Cambridge, you need to submit a draft application to the Faculty of Music by 29 August 2014: we shall assess all the draft submissions we receive, and if we are able to host your application we shall work with you to make it as good as possible before the final version is submitted to the British Academy. We aim to tell you whether we can host your application by the second week of September; if so, you will be asked at that point to commit yourself to applying through Cambridge.

The draft application should consist of the following: (i) an academic CV, (ii) a summary of your doctoral or other previous research in about 500 words, and (iii) a research proposal of about 1500 words. We recommend you structure this as below, as these are the key sections of the British Academy application form. Please email these materials to Any queries may also be sent to that email address.

To be eligible for this scheme, you must either have completed your doctorate within the last three years, or have your viva by the end of March 2015. There are also nationality/residency conditions, but you are automatically eligible if you have a doctorate from a UK university. Further details may be found on the British Academy's website.

 We also host applications to the Leverhulme Trust's Early Career Fellowships, for which the deadline is expected to be spring 2015. Eligibility criteria are slightly different, and—unlike the British Academy postdoctoral fellowships—the Levehulme scheme allows for practice-based research. Rather than issuing a separate call for Leverhulme applications we normally consider those whose applications to the British Academy we have hosted. If you are eligible under the Leverhulme scheme but not the British Academy one, please apply as if for the latter and explain this in a cover note.

Structure for Proposals

Title of proposed research

Abstract of proposed research (about 200 words)

Proposed programme
Please give a detailed description of the research programme, including methodology. Applicants should be aware of the importance that assessors place on the viability, specificity and originality of the research programme and of its achievability within the timescale, which should be specified below under Plan of Action.

Planned research outputs
Please indicate here what the expected output(s) from your research programme might be. As appropriate, please state as follows: monograph, journal article(s), book chapter(s), digital resources, other (please specify). Details of your plans for publication should be stated under Plans for publication/dissemination below.

Plan of action
Please indicate here a clear timetable for your research programme over the three years of the Fellowship. Try to be as realistic as possible, but keep in mind that research programmes will develop over time and this plan of action is not something that is expected to account for every minute of the three years, and is not unchangeable. But your chances of award will be affected by the assessors' perception of how viable and realistic this plan is.

Plans for publication / dissemination
Please state in more detail here what plans you have for publication or other dissemination of your research, including potential publishers, journals, conferences etc. that are appropriate for your research subject. 

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Applications hosted by the Faculty Of Music, University of Cambridge

last modified Aug 22, 2017 08:20 AM

The British Academy will shortly invite applications to their prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme, with a deadline expected to be in early October 2017 ( These fellowships fund three years of research on a topic of the applicant’s choice, and applications have to be hosted by a UK higher education institution. You should check the latest eligibility details on the British Academy website but basically you need to have obtained your doctorate in the last three years or else to have your viva by the end of March 2018 (but see below). There are also nationality/residency conditions, but you are automatically eligible if you have a doctorate from a UK university.

If you would like to apply through the University of Cambridge, you need to submit a draft application to the Faculty of Music by 18 August 2017. Before then you may wish to contact an appropriate member of the Faculty who might act as mentor (for a staff list see, but this is not a requirement.

In line with new British Academy requirements, applications will be initially scrutinised by the Faculty but the final decision as to whether we can host your application will be made at University level. We hope to tell you this by around the middle of September; if so, you will be asked at that point to commit yourself to applying through Cambridge, and we will work with you to make your application as good as possible.

The documentation we require falls into two parts, the first of which is for the University's evaluation process, while the second is the basis of the application to the British Academy.

(i)  a document containing your name, the title of your proposed research project, and a research project description (maximum 750 words), addressing the following:

  • the research problem you are seeking to address and why it is distinctive
  • the design and methodology through which your project will adress this problem
  • how your proposed research will significantly change the established landscape
  • how you will complete your project within the three-year period of the award
  • why Cambridge is the right place to carry out the project

(ii)  a draft British Academy application consisting of the following:

  • an academic CV
  • a summary of your doctoral or other previous research in about 500 words
  • a research proposal of about 1500 words. This should be structured as shown at the bottom, since these are the key sections of the British Academy application form.

 These documents should be supplied as Microsoft Word documents (not PDFs) emailed to You can also use this address for any queries you may have.

You should be aware that in 2016 the British Academy introduced a restriction on the number of times you can apply within your period of eligibility. Normally only one application is possible, although a small number of near-miss applicants may be permitted to apply in the following year. (If this applies in your case, please say so; otherwise we shall assume this is your first application.) For this reason we would generally recommend you to apply in this round only if you will have obtained your doctorate by September 2017; this is in part because in most cases the best informed referees will be your examiners (supervisers are not permitted to act as referees).

We also host applications to the Leverhulme Trust's Early Career Fellowships, for which the deadline is expected to be spring 2016 ( Eligibility criteria are different, and—unlike the British Academy postdoctoral fellowships—the Leverhulme scheme allows for practice-based research. Rather than issuing a separate call for Leverhulme applications we normally consider those who have applied under the present call. If you are eligible under the Leverhulme scheme but not the British Academy one, please submit just the documentation listed under (ii) above, and explain this in a cover note.

Structure for research proposals

  • Title of proposed research
  • Abstract of proposed research (about 200 words)
  • Proposed programme
    Please give a detailed description of the research programme, including methodology. Applicants should be aware of the importance that assessors place on the viability, specificity and originality of the research programme and of its achievability within the timescale, which should be specified below under Plan of Action.
  • Planned research outputs
    Please indicate here what the expected output(s) from your research programme might be. As appropriate, please state as follows: monograph, journal article(s), book chapter(s), digital resources, other (please specify). Details of your plans for publication should be stated under Plans for publication/dissemination below.
  • Plan of action
    Please indicate here a clear timetable for your research programme over the three years of the Fellowship. Try to be as realistic as possible, but keep in mind that research programmes will develop over time and this plan of action is not something that is expected to account for every minute of the three years, and is not unchangeable. But your chances of award will be affected by the assessors' perception of how viable and realistic this plan is.
  • Plans for publication / dissemination
    Please state in more detail here what plans you have for publication or other dissemination of your research, including potential publishers, journals, conferences etc. that are appropriate for your research subject.

British Academy Wolfson Professorships

last modified May 12, 2014 01:35 PM

Launch of British Academy Wolfson Professorships

The award recognises the most outstanding, established scholars in the UK and enables them to concentrate on a specific research programme while freed from teaching and administrative commitments. Just four of these exceptional awards were made this year, to scholars from Manchester and Cambridge:

Professor Nicholas Cook: FBA Musical encounters: studies in relational musicology.

Professor Sheilagh Ogilvie: FBA Human Capital and Economic Outcomes in a European Developing Economy, c. 1600 – c. 1900.

Professor Peter Wade: Race nation and genomics: biology and society.

Professor Alan Williams: The Restitution of Rumi's Masnavi.

On 3 December 2013, the launch will be celebrated with a special reception at the British Academy.

The Wolfson Foundation is a charitable foundation that awards grants to back excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health, education, the arts and humanities.

Britten Sinfonia Composers Workshop 7 March 2015

last modified Feb 27, 2015 04:22 PM

Judith Weir guest composer
Hugh Brunt conductor
Britten Sinfonia musicians
Student musicians from the University of Cambridge

Bertie Baigent Mr Hetherington's Hat
Daniel-Lewis Fardon Break
Robert Laidlow Traveller of the Inferno
Joy Lisney Sinfonia Piccola
Rhiannon Randle Nachtgedanken
Alex Tay The Bleak Winter

A day-long workshop in which six shortlisted student composers from the University of Cambridge get a chance to work on new compositions, with advice from guest composer Judith Weir. An ensemble of Britten Sinfonia players and instrumentalists from the University of Cambridge will be conducted by Hugh Brunt.

Tickets are free but must be booked in advance via the booking link as capacity is limited.

Refreshments, including sandwiches and hot and cold drinks, will be available to buy from the West Road Concert Hall bar on the day.

Call for BA Postdoc applications

last modified Jul 05, 2016 10:43 AM

Call for BA Postdoc applications

The British Academy will shortly invite applications under their Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme, with a deadline expected to be in October 2016. Prospective applicants who would like to be hosted by the Cambridge Faculty of Music are asked to send a draft application to the Faculty by 26 August. Details may be found here.

Call for BA Postdoctoral Fellowship applications hosted by Cambridge

last modified Jun 08, 2015 10:38 AM

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship applications hosted by the Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge

The British Academy will shortly invite applications under their prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowships scheme, with a deadline expected to be in October 2015 ( These fellowships fund three years of research on a topic of the applicant’s choice, and applications have to be hosted by a UK higher education institution.

If you would like to apply through the University of Cambridge, you need to submit a draft application to the Faculty of Music by 30 August: we shall assess all the draft submissions we receive, and if we are able to host your application we will work with you to make it as good as possible before the final version is submitted to the British Academy. We aim to tell you whether we can host your application by the second week of September; if so, you will be asked at that point to commit yourself to applying through Cambridge.

The draft application should consist of the following: (i) an academic CV, (ii) a summary of your doctoral or other previous research in about 500 words, and (iii) a research proposal of about 1500 words. We recommend you structure this as below, as these are the key sections of the British Academy application form. Please email these materials to Any queries may also be sent to that email address.

To be eligible for this scheme, you must either have completed your doctorate within the last three years, or have your viva by the end of March 2016. There are also nationality/residency conditions, but you are automatically eligible if you have a doctorate from a UK university. Further details may be found on the British Academy's website.

We also host applications to the Leverhulme Trust's Early Career Fellowships, for which the deadline is expected to be spring 2016 ( Eligibility criteria are slightly different, and—unlike the British Academy postdoctoral fellowships—the Levehulme scheme allows for practice-based research. Rather than issuing a separate call for Leverhulme applications we normally consider those whose applications to the British Academy we have hosted. If you are eligible under the Leverhulme scheme but not the British Academy one, please apply as if for the latter and explain this in a cover note.

Structure for Proposals

  • Title of proposed research
  • Abstract of proposed research (about 200 words)

Proposed programme
Please give a detailed description of the research programme, including methodology. Applicants should be aware of the importance that assessors place on the viability, specificity and originality of the research programme and of its achievability within the timescale, which should be specified below under Plan of Action.

Planned research outputs
Please indicate here what the expected output(s) from your research programme might be. As appropriate, please state as follows: monograph, journal article(s), book chapter(s), digital resources, other (please specify). Details of your plans for publication should be stated under Plans for publication/dissemination below.

Plan of action
Please indicate here a clear timetable for your research programme over the three years of the Fellowship. Try to be as realistic as possible, but keep in mind that research programmes will develop over time and this plan of action is not something that is expected to account for every minute of the three years, and is not unchangeable. But your chances of award will be affected by the assessors' perception of how viable and realistic this plan is.

Plans for publication / dissemination
Please state in more detail here what plans you have for publication or other dissemination of your research, including potential publishers, journals, conferences etc. that are appropriate for your research subject.

Call for Papers - Creativity, Circulation and Copyright: Sonic and Visual Media in the Digital Age

last modified May 12, 2014 01:37 PM

Call for Papers

Creativity, Circulation and Copyright: Sonic and Visual Media in the Digital Age

 28-29 March 2014

Over the past two decades, digital technologies have fundamentally altered the ways that musical and audiovisual media are created, circulated and received. As musical and audiovisual content has been made available in multiple formats through a variety of media platforms, there has been a multifaceted convergence of visual and sonic media, of production and consumption, and of corporate and grassroots artistic endeavours. Creators, promoters and audiences have responded in a variety of ways to the new challenges and opportunities. And, at the same times as media industries’ adaptive strategies are shifting users’ expectations and experience of audio-visual content, participatory use is constantly stretching and testing the legal frameworks of copyright law.

The Conference ‘Creativity, Circulation and Copyright’ aims to further interdisciplinary discussion of the relationship between the aesthetics, ethics and legal implications of new digital technologies through exploring several themes relating to the ways musical and audiovisual media are created, received and interpreted in the digital age. 

We welcome paper proposals from scholars across disciplines, particularly in relation to the following themes: 

  • Aesthetics and creativity in the digital age
  • Shifting modes of reception and experience of digital audiovisual media
  • Digital formats and changing copyright regimes
  • Self-fashioning and community-building through digital media

 (Further information on each of these topics can be found on the conference website: 

 Proposals must be received by 1 November 2013.  

 To submit a proposal for an individual paper, please send a document with your name, affiliation, paper title, and a proposal of no more than 250 words to

 Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 15 December 2013, and conference registration will begin on 15 January 2014 For all programme-related queries, please contact:


  • Nicholas Cook, University of Cambridge
  • Peter Webb, University of Cambridge
  • David Trippett, University of Bristol
  • Monique Ingalls, University of Cambridge

Invited speakers: 

  • Martin Scherzinger, New York University
  • John Richardson, University of Turku
  • Kiri Miller, Brown University
  • Anahid Kassabian, University of Liverpool
  • Lionel Bently, University of Cambridge
  • Ananay Aguilar, University of Cambridge

Cambridge Music alumna, Héloïse Werner nominated for RPS Music Award

last modified Apr 10, 2017 08:37 AM

Shortlists announced for the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards

Outstanding musicians in the running for the UK’s most prestigious awards for live
classical music, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, include:


RPS Music Award for Conductors
  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra;
  • Richard Farnes, in his final season as Music Director of Opera North; and and
  • Donald Runnicles, outgoing Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
RPS Music Award for Singers
  • Allan Clayton, tenor
  • Christine Rice, mezzo-soprano
  • Karita Mattila, soprano
RPS Music Award for Instrumentalists
  • Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
  • James Ehnes, violin
  • Alisa Weilerstein, cello
RPS Music Awards for Composition
Large Scale Composition
  • Anders Hillborg
  • Enno Poppe
  • Philip Venables
Chamber Scale Compostion
  • Liza Lim
  • Rebecca Saunders
  • Mark Simpson
RPS Music Award for Young Artists
  • Andrew Gourlay, conductor
  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, conductor
  • Joseph Middleton, pianist
  • Héloïse Werner, soprano
The annual RPS Music Awards, presented in association with BBC Radio 3, are the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK. Awards, in thirteen categories, are decided by independent panels consisting of some of the music industry’s most distinguished practitioners. The awards honour musicians, composers, writers, broadcasters and inspirational arts organisations.

Cambridge Brahms Festival

last modified Apr 13, 2017 03:07 PM

A new festival to celebrate the life and music of Johannes Brahms; admission is free to all events except Friday 21st April, which is £12/10/5.

MONDAY 17 APRIL at 7.30pm (until 8.00pm)
Sidney Sussex College Chapel
kindly hosted by Sidney Sussex College Music Society
Pre-performance talk by William Bosworth
“Brahms’ Sonata Opus 78”

MONDAY 17 APRIL at 8.00pm (until 9.00pm)
Sidney Sussex College Chapel
kindly hosted by Sidney Sussex College Music Society
Opening Concert of the Festival
Brahms Cello Sonata in D major, opus 78 (after the violin)
Brahms Cello Sonata in E minor, opus 38
Cello  Joy Lisney, Sophia Ramnarine
Piano  James Lisney, Edward Reeve

TUESDAY 18 APRIL at 1.00pm (until 2.00pm)
The Bateman Auditorium, Caius College
kindly hosted by Gonville and Caius Music Society (GCMS)
Brahms Lieder Recital
Baritone  Stephen Whitford
Piano  Richard Gowers

TUESDAY 18 APRIL at 8.00pm (until 9.00pm)
Jesus College Chapel
kindly hosted by JCMS - Jesus College Music Society
“Brahms the Progressive”
Brahms Clarinet Trio, opus 114
Brahms Piano Quintet, opus 34
The Orpheus Trio
The Empyrean Quintet

WEDNESDAY 19 APRIL at 12.30pm (until 1.00pm)
St Columba’s Church
Pre-performance talk by Edward Reeve
“Brahms and the natural horn”

WEDNESDAY 19 APRIL at 1.00pm (until 2.00pm)
St Columba’s Church
“Brahms on historic instruments”
Brahms Horn Trio, opus 40
Brahms Intermezzi for solo piano
Natural horn  Kathryn Zevenbergen
Violin  Aditya Chander
Fortepiano  Edward Reeve

WEDNESDAY 19 APRIL at 8.00pm (until 9.00pm)
The Old Library, Pembroke College
kindly hosted by Pembroke College Music Society - PCMS
“Brahms the Nostalgic”
Brahms Clarinet Sonata in E-flat, opus 120
Brahms Scherzo from the F-A-E Sonata
Clarinet  Helen McKeown
Violin  Julia Hwang
Piano  Edward Reeve

THURSDAY 20 APRIL at 7.30pm (until 8.00pm)
Christ’s College Chapel
kindly hosted by Christ's College Music Society - CCMS
Pre-performance talk by Professor Robert Pascall
“Brahms and the Choral Tradition”

THURSDAY 20 APRIL at 8.00pm (until 9.00pm)
Christ’s College Chapel
kindly hosted by Christ's College Music Society - CCMS
“Brahms and the Choral Tradition”
Brahms Missa Canonica
Brahms Geistliches Lied
Brahms Four Songs for Women’s Choir, Horns and Harp, opus 17
Brahms Movements from the Requiem
Harp  Anna Lapwood
Horn  Kathryn Zevenbergen, Moritz Grimm
Piano  Edward Reeve

FRIDAY 21 APRIL at 7.30pm (until 8.00pm)
West Road Concert Hall
Pre-performance talk by Dr. Martin Ennis

FRIDAY 21 APRIL at 8.00pm (until 10.00pm)
West Road Concert Hall
Brahms Tragic Overture
Brahms Nänie
Brahms Begräbnisgesang
Brahms Academic Festival Overture
Brahms Second Piano Concerto
Piano  Edward Reeve
Conductors  Toby Hession, Richard Gowers, Roc Fargas-i-Castells
£12, £10 (concessions), £5 (students)
Box Office 01223 300085

Cambridge composers feature in 2016 British Composer Awards shortlist

last modified Nov 01, 2016 08:46 AM

Thirty-four composers have been shortlisted for this year’s British Composer Awards, spanning 33 works across 11 categories, it was revealed yesterday.

The 2016 shortlist highlights the diversity and vibrancy of the UK’s music community, with 20 per cent of composers born overseas, 38 per cent of nominees being women – the highest numbers in the Awards’ history – and 50 per cent of the shortlist being first time nominees.

The full list can be found here.

Success for Cambridge in The Guardian's 2017 university league tables

last modified May 23, 2016 02:00 PM

The Guardian has published its 2017 University league tables today. This is the sixth year that Cambridge has held the top spot overall, but this year Cambridge Music has jumped up the rankings to take third place.

The Guardian’s league tables rank universities according to: spending per student; the student/staff ratio; graduate career prospects; what grades applicants need to get a place; a value-added score that compares students’ entry qualifications with their final degree results; and how satisfied final-year students are with their courses, based on results from the annual National Student Survey (NSS).

For the full table of music results, click here.

Cambridge Music tops the 2015 Complete University league table

last modified May 12, 2014 01:10 PM

Cambridge University has been ranked best in the country for music in the Complete University Guide's 2015 ranking of UK universities published today.

The Faculty was rated on student satisfaction, quality of research, student/staff ratios, entry standards and graduate prospects.

Ranked below Cambridge for music were Oxford (2), Manchester (3), Royal Holloway (4) and Durham (5). Cambridge was ranked top for 29 subjects in all which put the University at the top of the charts overall.

For more information on the league table, click here 



Cambridge named top UK university music department in global rankings for performing arts

last modified Mar 09, 2017 09:19 AM

Cambridge named top UK university music department in global rankings for performing arts

Cambridge University Faculty of Music has been ranked top university music department in the UK and third in the world according to the QS World University Rankings published in 2017.

The rankings are based upon academic and employer reputation. More information can be found about methodology here.

Most institutions appearing in the top performing arts slots are conservatoires, and it is particularly pleasing to see that as well as its strong academic and research reputation, Cambridge can compete favourably with the best institutions in the world for performance.

One of the most outstanding features of Cambridge is the richness and diversity of its music-making at all levels and in a wide variety of contexts. Students in the Faculty of Music can exploit numerous possibilities to include practical elements in their studies, including the performance pathway, CAMRAM scheme and the M.Mus. in Choral Studies. The M.Phil. Performance Studies pathway and the Ph.D. programme are also available for graduate students specialising in performance studies, as well as in composition, musicology, and other aspects of music studies.

Carmina qui quondam video nears 500,000 views on YouTube

last modified May 08, 2016 07:18 PM

Only two weeks after the fascinating series of events that culminated in the performance of Songs of Consolation for the first time in 1,000 years, the video of the performance has recorded nearly 500,000 views on YouTube and press coverage from all round the world.

Read the University of Cambridge news story here

The video of part of the performance is at:


I say now NOW - and a moment later it is already history

last modified May 27, 2019 03:44 PM

A new orchestral piece by Reader in Composition, Richard Causton was one of just two pieces selected by BBC Radio 3 to represent the UK at the International Rostrum of Composers (an annual forum for national public radio broadcasters run under the umbrella of UNESCO), which was held last week in Bariloche, Argentina. Richard's piece was Recommended, meaning that all participating radio stations will broadcast the piece - so it will now be transmitted in at least 27 countries worldwide.

Ik zeg: NU ("I say: NOW") was first performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in January to critical acclaim:

'Richard Causton's new work for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ik zeg: NU, holds two timeframes in play simultaneously, and brilliantly.' (Erica Jeal, The Guardian)

'Now-ness and then-ness move in parallel in this spacious, beautifully constructed work' (Anna Picard, The Times)

'It was a fabulously ear-tickling display of compositional skill, which every now and then took on a poetic resonance.' (Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph)


Richard writes: Ik zeg: NU ("I say: Now") is named after a book by my Dutch relative, Sal van Son. In the foreword to this book, the author writes: 'Time strides forwards; it never stands still. My ten-year-old great nephew remarked philosophically “I say now now, and a moment later it is already history"'. So my piece is partly about the passage of time: the 'now' becomes the past from the moment it has been named. But it is also a homage to my 98-year-old relative, whose book traces the history of his Jewish family through four centuries, including his own years in hiding from the Nazis in occupied Holland during the Second World War'.

Richard constructed a new set of specially-tuned tubular bells especially for use in the piece, and together with the sounds of detuned vibraphones, a prepared piano and accordion, their haunting, resonant sound evokes the complex and elusive nature of passing time.

The Cambridge Chamber Music Residency 2019-20

last modified Jun 28, 2019 12:31 PM

Supported by Homerton College

The Cambridge University Faculty of Music welcomes applications for its recently established Chamber Music Residency, held between 2016 and 2019 by the Ligeti Quartet. Continued thanks to funding generously provided by Homerton College, the Residency is aimed at established trios, quartets and quintets in the early stages of their career and will run initially for one year, 2019–2020, with the possibility of its extension for a further two years. Its primary purpose is to provide an arena for collaboration between the resident ensemble and the Faculty’s vibrant and growing community of postgraduate composers. The ensemble will work intensively with composers to workshop, perform and record especially written new work. There will also be opportunities for performances, instrumental/chamber music coaching, masterclasses and participation in other Faculty and College activities. Homerton College can offer some additional rehearsal space together with the possibility of overnight accommodation and dining facilities.

This is an exciting opportunity for an ensemble to do cutting-edge creative work within one of the country’s leading music faculties. The Residency will be overseen by Richard Causton, Reader in Composition, Professor Margaret Faultless, Director of Performance and John Hopkins, composer-in-residence at Homerton College. It is expected that the ensemble will work at the Faculty for not less than six days during the academic year and perform two or three concerts at Homerton College for a total remuneration of £6000 per annum. 

To apply for the residency, ensembles should send:

  • Soundfiles or a video of a live performance lasting not more than a total of 20 minutes. This must include at least one contemporary work; soundfiles and videos should be closed YouTube links;
  • A statement explaining why your ensemble would like the residency, what you would hope to gain from it and what you will bring to the Faculty of Music and Homerton College;
  • A biography of the ensemble and biographies of the individual players. Include details of your work with living composers and any previous collaborative/workshop experience. Please also provide a link to your website;
  • A list of recent and forthcoming concerts; and
  • Two references from established professionals who are familiar with your work.

Please send your application materials (preferably electronically) to or by post to Chamber Music Residency, Faculty of Music, West Rd, Cambridge CB3 9DP by July 17th 2019. If sent electronically, sound and video files must be sent via Dropbox. Please follow these instructions for Dropbox.

It is anticipated that Interviews and auditions will take place in early September 2019.

Amatis Piano Trio Appointed as Resident Chamber Ensemble

last modified Sep 24, 2019 10:22 AM

The Faculty of Music is delighted to announce that the Amatis Piano Trio has been appointed as the new holders of the Chamber Music Residency, generously supported by Homerton College.

At Cambridge, they will work together with student composers to continue enriching the piano trio repertoire.  They will perform at West Road Concert Hall, Homerton College and elsewhere, and be available to coach and mentor chamber groups, ensembles and individual players within the University.

Founded in Amsterdam in 2014 by German violinist Lea Hausmann, British cellist Samuel Shepherd and Dutch/Chinese pianist Mengjie Han, the Amatis Piano Trio today emerges as one of the leading piano trios among the new generation.  The Amatis Piano Trio has an enduring commitment to contemporary music, having in 2015 founded the Dutch Piano Trio Composition Prize.

The Trio performs regularly at major concert venues across the world such as the Concertgebouw, the Elbphilharmonie and the Wigmore Hall. In the 2018/19 season they were ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) Rising Stars artists, and between 2016-2018 BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists.

Amatis Piano Trio (Resident Chamber Ensemble 2019-20)

Christopher Hogwood 1941-2014

last modified Sep 25, 2014 08:26 AM

We are very sad to learn of the death of Christopher Hogwood. Prof Hogwood had a long association with the Music Faculty that reached back to his undergraduate days. His career was forged on the world stage, but he retained a close connection with Cambridge throughout his life. He was a long-time resident of the city, and the orchestra with which he was virtually synonymous, the Academy of Ancient Music, has been a resident ensemble within the Faculty of Music for more than a decade. When the Faculty established its Collegium Musicum, an ensemble that uses copies of early instruments, Christopher generously agreed to serve as Patron. In the same spirit, he allowed students to visit his exquisite collection of historical keyboard instruments, and he made his research library available to young scholars. Over the years, he taught various classes for the Music Faculty, and he presented his research findings in memorable colloquia. He also served on a number of strategic Faculty committees. In recognition of his distinguished career and of his rich and varied engagement with the work of the Music Faculty, Christopher Hogwood was appointed Honorary Professor in 2002. His exceptional contributions to music were also recognised in an Honorary Doctorate in Music, awarded by the University of Cambridge in 2008. He will be greatly missed.

Clare College Song Competition winners announced

last modified Mar 22, 2017 08:03 AM

Clare College is delighted to announce the following winners in their Solo Song Competition 2017

  • 1st Prize; Olivia Brett (Clare College) accompanied by Toby Hession (Clare) £400 prize and recital at St Martin-in-the-fields, London
  • 2nd Prize: James Jenkins (King's) accompanied by Richard Gowers (King's) £200
  • Accompanist Prize; Marianne Schonle (Girton) £150

Judging Panel

  • Andrew Staples - Tenor (Head Judge)
  • Graham Ross - (Chairman)
  • Margaret Faultless
  • Nicola-Jane Kemp


Watch Marina Frolova-Walker's Colloquium, 'Stalin's Playlist'

last modified Nov 17, 2015 03:20 PM

If you were unable to attend Marina Frolova-Walker's Colloquium, 'Stalin's Playlist', on 14 October 2015, you can now view it here.

Conservatoire success for third year Music students

last modified Feb 07, 2017 08:13 AM


Following the intensely competitive auditions in December last year, the Faculty is delighted to congratulate the following third year music students who have been offered places on Master’s courses at major UK conservatoires. Many students were offered significant entrance scholarships which is particularly impressive because most applicants have been studying on four-year courses with more practical bias prior to their master’s applications.

All these students take an extremely active role in Cambridge musical life as members of  IAS, CUTE, the CUMS orchestras, and taking part in Faculty and College masterclasses. They have also created their own projects and featured as concerto and recital soloists. Three of the students were on the CAMRAM scheme, enabling them to have a taste of conservatoire life whilst being at Cambridge. We wish them all the best for next year, and look forward to hearing them in the future.

  • Matilda Lloyd (Trinity) – RAM, trumpet
  • Leo Popperwell (Clare) – Guildhall, cello
  • Katie Lodge (Emmanuel) – RAM, trumpet
  • Roc Fargas-i-Castells (Selwyn) – RAM, historical viola
  • Julia Hwang (St John's) – RCM, violin
  • Joe Cowie (Clare) – RAM, double bass
  • Marianne Schonle (Girton) – Guildhall, piano
  • Wallis Power (Pembroke) – RCM, cello

Professor Nicholas Cook awarded British Academy / Wolfson Research Professorship

last modified Sep 05, 2014 03:25 PM

Professor Nicholas Cook has been awarded one of four British Academy Wolfson Research Professorships, which cover a range of projects in the humanities and social sciences.

Funded by the Wolfson Foundation, these awards fund replacement teaching over a three-year period, in addition to research expenses. Cook’s project is in the area of what he calls relational musicology: instead of focussing on the subjective experience of music, it focusses on the role that music plays in the construction and negotiation of relationships and identities among both individuals and groups. It will result in a book that combines perspectives from relational practice, sociology, and ethnomusicology with musicological practices of close reading; deploys ethnographical research methods alongside analysis of texts, scores, and performances; and ranges from Britain, South Africa, and the West Pacific Rim to the virtual communities and participatory cultures based on the internet. The aim is to show how the social is inscribed within the musical and vice versa. Cook will take up the Professorship in January 2014.


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Sean Curran awarded Jerome Roche Prize and Alfred Einstein Award

last modified Dec 17, 2018 08:54 AM

Dr Sean Curran, a Junior Research Fellow in Music at Trinity College, has been awarded two prestigious prizes for his research in the history of music.

In June 2018 he received the Jerome Roche Prize from the Royal Musical Association, and in November 2018 Dr Curran was awarded the Alfred Einstein Award by the American Musicological Society.

The prizes – for a musicological article of exceptional merit by an early-career scholar – were awarded for Dr Curran’s article in Early Music History (2017), ‘Hockets Broken and Integrated in Early Mensural Theory and an Early Motet.’

Dr Curran’s award-winning article investigates the meaning of the hocket to audiences at the time and its significance in the context of a particular medieval motet. Katharine Ellis, 1684 Professor of Music at Cambridge, sees it as a ‘landmark article’ and has characterised it as a ‘mini monograph in weight and significance’.

According to the citation for the Jerome Roche Prize 2018:

Founded on a carefully constructed case that, in contrast to received opinion, the earliest theorists concerned with hocket viewed it as a brief, single-voiced phenomenon, Curran provides a meticulous interpretation of the narrative and structural functioning of a brief hocket in a single piece.

As well as radically rethinking what the hocket meant to thirteenth-century audiences and theorists, Dr Curran ‘nimbly demonstrates competing methodologies of “knowing and hearing” and masterfully integrates them,’ according to the Alfred Einstein Award citation, which concludes, ‘The ethics of listening in which Curran deftly embeds the hocket turns out to have startlingly modern resonances.’

Dr Curran studied at the University of California Berkeley before being elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity. With training in historical musicology, music analysis, ethnomusicology, and in literary studies, Dr Curran has a wide range of research interests in the history of music, especially in the period 1100-1450, and particularly of France.

‘No question: medieval music is an esoteric field,’ says Dr Curran, ‘especially as we cannot hear exactly what thirteenth-century audiences heard, and often have to do a lot of legwork to read the notations that survive, or to understand the theoretical texts in which medieval musicians discussed their songs.’

But, says Dr Curran, the research can reveal unexpected connections with modern concerns.

Hockets involve a kind of silence that surprises listeners, one which makes them ask, “What’s going on here?”, or, “Why is this happening?” You could say that a hocket is a pause of voice that encourages a reciprocal pause for thought, and that it offers an opportunity to listen more carefully. In a noisy world, old invitations to pause and to listen seem timely again.

Curtis Elton, 10-year-old piano prodigy, visits the Faculty of Music

last modified Jan 28, 2014 08:27 AM

Already the youngest person in the world to be awarded the Associate of Trinity College London (ATCL) diploma, 10-year-old Curtis Elton has great ambitions - he wants to be a concert pianist and the Prime Minister.

Curtis spent a morning at the Faculty, meeting Dr Martin Ennis and trying out the Steinway in West Road Concert Hall. 

Read the full news story by Gareth McPherson in Cambridge News 

Darren Bloom and Patrick Brennan named as the first holders of the King's College/Hartley Rogers CBSO Scholarships in Orchestral Composition

last modified Aug 16, 2017 11:06 AM

We are very pleased to announce that the first two holders of the King's College/Hartley Rogers CBSO Scholarships in Orchestral Composition will be Darren Bloom and Patrick Brennan, both currently studying on the Composition PhD programme supervised by Richard Causton. They will write pieces to be workshopped by the full orchestra of some ninety players under the baton on Ilan Volkov in Birmingham next June. They will then have the opportunity to make alterations and refinements to their scores in time for a second workshop in the autumn. Both workshops will be recorded in their entirety, and at the end of the Scholarship, composers will have a professional-quality recording of their new pieces. This is a unique opportunity for composers to take risks and experiment with one of the world's greatest ensembles under the direction of a conductor who is a dedicated champion of new music.

Darren Bloom

King's College/Hartley Rogers CBSO Scholarships in Orchestral CompositionDescribed in The Times as ‘almost mystical… a genuine frisson’, Darren Bloom’s music is noted for its combination of ‘evocative harmony’ and ‘raw power’. His chamber symphony Dr. Glaser’s Experiment, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, was praised in as a ‘confident answer to the question: How can an orchestra perform the music of the future?’ Darren’s Strange Attractors was selected by the UK panel of the ISCM to represent the UK, and his opera KETTLEHEAD was created on the LSO Soundhub Scheme.

Recent projects included a curation and commission for New Dots’ with the Octandre Ensemble and Borexino-Borealis, commissioned by the Park Lane Group for the Borealis Saxophone Quartet. As a winner of the 2016 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, Darren was commissioned to write for the Piatti Quartet at this year's Cheltenham Festival.

Darren is a founding member of the Ossian Ensemble with whom he has conducted the premieres of dozens of new works. Other conducting highlights include a performance of Maxwell Davies’ Five Klee Pictures in the presence of the composer, music for BBC4 documentaries and working since 2014 as a conductor for the LSO Soundhub Scheme.

Darren studied with Edwin Roxburgh, Brian Elias and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He was awarded a DipRAM and the Manson Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Music as well as recently being appointed an Associate of the RAM. In 2015 he commenced an AHRC funded PhD in Composition at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Richard Causton.


Patrick Brennan

Patrick Brennan was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. He studied piano performance with Julian Jacobson at the Royal College of Music, and composition with Julian Anderson and Hans Abrahamsen at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal Danish Academy of Music respectively.

His music has attracted national and international attention, with recent commissions and performances coming from orchestras and ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Internationale Ensemble Modern Akademie and 

the Zurich Chamber Singers. He has worked with several leading conductors and performers including Sir Mark Elder, François-Xavier Roth, Pierre-André Valade, Oliver Knussen, Emilio Pomarico, Huw Watkins and Rolf Hind.

Brennan has been featured as a composer at IRCAM ManiFeste and the Lucerne Festival. He also represented Ireland at ISCM ‘World Music Days’ 2015. He was a “Guildhall Artist” Fellow at the GSMD and a designated Royal Philharmonic Society “Young Artist”. He was appointed BCMG/SaM Apprentice Composer-in-Residence and, in July 2016, was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society composition prize. Patrick Brennan is currently pursuing a PhD in composition at King’s College, Cambridge, supervised by Richard Causton.



David Roche selected for Sound and Music Portfolio Scheme

last modified Jun 05, 2017 09:19 AM

David John Roche has been selected to write a new composition for the London Graduate Orchestra as part of a Sound and Music Portfolio Scheme. The composition will be premiered later this year.

You can read more about the Portfolio scheme here.
You can also read an interview with David that relates to the scheme here.

David Roche selected for Composition: Wales 2016

last modified Feb 12, 2016 11:15 AM

David Roche, a third-year Ph.D. Music Composition student at Downing College, will have his orchestral work Ozartmay performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales later this year as part of the Composition: Wales 2016 competition.

Seven composers were selected to take part in this exciting opportunity and their pieces will be workshopped and performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in February and April this year.

For more information, please see the following link:


David Skinner reveals collaboration between Tallis and Katherine Parr

last modified Mar 13, 2017 01:43 PM

Dr David Skinner has identified three pieces of parchment discovered in the plasterwork of a wall in 1978 as containing fragments of music by Thomas Tallis with words by Katharine Parr.

See the full Telegraph article here


Distinguished Musicologist, Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco, to spend Lent Term 2015 as an academic visitor at St John's College

last modified Jan 12, 2015 11:44 AM

Salwa EL-Shawan Castelo-Branco. Professor of Ethnomusicology, Director of the Instituto de Etnomusicologia – Centro de Estudos em Música e Dança, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal and President of the International Council for Traditional Music. She received her doctorate from Columbia University, taught at New York University (1979-1982), and was visiting professor at Columbia University, Princeton University and Chicago University. Carried out field research in Portugal, Egypt and Oman resulting in publications on: cultural politics, musical nationalism, identity, music media, modernity and music and conflict. Recent publications include: “The Politics of Music Categorization in Portugal” in Philip Bohlman (ed.) The Cambridge History of World Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2013); Enciclopédia da Música em Portugal no Século XX (4 vols) (ed.). Lisboa: Círculo de Leitores/Temas e Debates (2010); Music and Conflict. (co-editor with John O’Connell and author of the Epilogue), Urbana: Illinois University Press (2010); Traditional Arts in Southern Arabia: Music and Society in Sohar, Sultante of Oman (with Dieter Christensen). Berlin: VWB Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung (2009). Past academic responsibilities and awards include: Vice President of the Society for Ethnomusicology (2007 – 2009) and of the International Council for Traditional Music (1997-2001 and 2009-2013); Vice Chancellor of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2007-2009). Recipient of the Glarean Award for music research of the Swiss Musicological Society (2013), the Gold & Silver Medals for Cultural merit of the City Halls of Lisbon and Cascais, respectively (2012 & 2007), and the Pro-Author Award of the Portuguese Author’s Society (2010).

Double Honour for Marina Frolova-Walker

last modified Jul 17, 2014 04:53 PM

We are delighted to announce that Marina Frolova-Walker, who was promoted to a personal Chair in June 2014, has been elected a Fellow of the British Academy. The Fellowship is limited to about 900 scholars across the entire range of the humanities and social sciences, and election accordingly represents recognition of exceptional scholarly distinction both nationally and internationally. For details of Marina and her work visit

Dr David Trippett joins Music Faculty

last modified Jul 19, 2015 01:33 PM

We are very pleased to announce that Dr David Trippett will be joining the Faculty of Music with effect from 1 September 2015. Dr Trippett, who was an undergraduate at King's College and later a research fellow at Christ's College, comes to Cambridge as the Principal Investigator of a major, five-year research project funded by the European Research Council. The grant links sound, technology and nineteenth-century intellectual history. The holder of numerous prizes, including the Alfred Einstein and Lewis Lockwood awards from the American Musicological Society, Dr Trippett will bring expertise in a range of musicological areas in addition to an established record as a performer and teacher. For further details see: We are delighted to welcome him to the Music Faculty.

Dr Edward Wickham, with vocal ensemble The Clerks, is awarded a Wellcome Trust arts grant to explore musical hallucinations

last modified Sep 23, 2014 10:56 AM

Dr Wickham, Fellow and Director of Music at St Catharine’s College, is embarking on a project which examines the musical imagination, and the curious phenomenon of musical hallucinations.

With the help of a Wellcome Trust grant, he and a team of scientists from the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University, will be presenting a new musical programme – Phantom Voices: A History of Music in Seven Hauntings – which attempts to capture some of the experience of musical hallucinations, while reflecting on the ways we imagine music.  The programme will launch at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on Friday 31 October, in a performance at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; and will coincide with the publication by Hearing the Voice of a large-scale, online questionnaire.  

The musical programme has been developed by Dr Wickham with Gramophone Award-winning ensemble The Clerks, as a follow up their cutting-edge music/science project Tales from Babel; and with composer Christopher Fox.  

‘Phantom Voices is first and foremost a concert programme,’ says Edward Wickham; ‘an immersive musical experience with music by our long-standing collaborator Christopher Fox. It melds together live and pre-recorded elements to give some sense of what it is like to experience musical hallucinations.’

Composer Christopher Fox explains: ‘The audience will be led through a series of musical ‘hauntings’, a sequence of interrelated songs and motets which take us from the present back into the Middle Ages, via Bach, Heinrich Isaac, bluegrass and folk song. Like unpacking Russian dolls, each new element in the music will reveal itself as a reinvention of something we already know.  At the same time, the audience will also be haunted more directly, by pre-recorded speech, music and sampled noises, to evoke the experience of voice and music hallucinations.’   

The Clerks vocal ensemble, known both for their pioneering interpretations of Medieval and Renaissance music and their challenging, genre-breaking collaborations, have again received the financial support of The Wellcome Trust, and are working on this project with Charles Fernyhough of Durham University and the Hearing the Voice project.

‘Hearing the Voice is all about understanding the huge variety of ways in which people hear voices in the absence of any speaker,’ says Professor Fernyhough.  ‘Voice-hearing is usually associated with serious mental illness; we are discovering that it can happen in all sorts of different circumstances, to all sorts of people.  What we are hoping to do with Phantom Voices is to find out whether the conditions that provoke musical hallucinations are similar to those associated with voice-hearing; and also to improve our understanding of how we remember and imagine music in our heads.’

To achieve this, the project is being developed through conversations with voice-hearers and those who experience musical hallucinations, including a recent ‘Hearing the Voice’ conference which focussed specifically on the phenomenon.

The full concert programme will launch at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas on Friday 31 October, in the evocative surroundings of the Museum for Archaeology and Anthropology, followed by  the Spitalfields Winter Festival on 15 December.


Dr Floris Schuiling wins Veni postdoctoral award

last modified Jul 26, 2016 09:48 AM

Floris Schuiling has been awarded a Veni postdoctoral award from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The Veni grant allows promising young Dutch researchers to develop innovative ideas over three years. Schuiling's project, entitled 'Notation Cultures in Contemporary Music', proposes a comparative ethnographic study to investigate how the use of different music notation systems informs ways of conceptualizing music as a cultural and creative practice.

Schuiling completed a PhD in music at Cambridge under the supervision of Nicholas Cook. He holds degrees in musicology and philosophy from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where he is currently a lecturer, and where he will pursue his postdoctoral research.

Dr James Westbrook receives the 2015 Terence Pamplin Award

last modified Jan 08, 2016 01:47 PM
Dr James Westbrook receives the 2015 Terence Pamplin Award

James receiving the award from the Master, Andrew Morris, at a Musicians’ Company banquet, at Merchant Taylors’ Hall, one of the great Livery Halls of the City of London (Peter Holland)

Dr James Westbrook has received the 2015 Terence Pamplin Award for Organology given by the Musicians’ Company. This biannual research prize of £1,200, is to assist further research into x-braced guitars by the Roudhloff Brothers and to make a replica instrument.

Arnold Myers, the Chairman of the judges said: “I am delighted that this year’s winner James Westbrook has been awarded the prize. Undoubtedly Terence Pamplin, in whose memory this award is made, would have approved. It is good to see that Cambridge is encouraging organological research and the award for the first time has gone to someone from other than London and Edinburgh.”


Dr Kariann Goldschmitt to join Faculty of Music

last modified Jul 16, 2014 04:04 PM

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Kariann Goldschmitt to a University Lectureship from October 2014 to December 2016. Currently an Adjunct Instructor at New College, Florida, Kariann took her PhD at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles), with a thesis entitled 'Bossa Mundo: Brazilian Music's Global Transformations, 1938–2008'. While her expertise centres on Brazilian music, including the Brazilian music industry, her research interests and teaching experience cover a wide range of areas in popular and world music. You can find out more about Kariann's work at

Dr Ross Cole appointed Junior Research Fellow at Homerton College

last modified Oct 25, 2016 08:20 AM

Ross Cole’s research focuses on experimental, popular, and vernacular
music of the twentieth century. He completed his AHRC-funded PhD in 2015
at the University of Cambridge, where he is currently a temporary
lecturer in the Faculty of Music.

Ross takes up his Fellowship in January 2017.

Dr Sam Barrett on BBC Radio 3 The Early Music Show

last modified Nov 25, 2018 12:38 AM
Dr Sam Barrett on BBC Radio 3 The Early Music Show

Dr Sam Barrett in consultation with the musicians of Sequentia (courtesy of

Lost songs fascinate, especially when their melodies survive in unfamiliar notations that cannot be fully reconstructed. It has long been known that poems from the influential De consolatione philosophiae (On the Consolation of Philosophy) by the sixth-century Roman philosopher and statesman Boethius were sung in the Middle Ages. But how to recover a song tradition recorded over a thousand years ago in mnemonic notations when performance traditions have fallen silent?

In the latest episode of The Early Music Show on BBC Radio 3, (25 November, 2pm), Dr Sam Barrett talks to Lucie Skeaping about his fascinating research to bring back to life the lost repertory of Boethian song.

And a new website gathers together manuscript images, videos and other resources, explains reconstruction methods and invites users to contribute. Research hitherto conducted by Dr Barrett and extended in consultation with members of the professional ensemble Sequentia resulted in the creation of a small number of reconstructions. It remains to extend the process across all thirty-nine poems, drawing on expertise from a wider community to refine hypotheses and make unexpected connections in an area where systematic research methods can proceed only so far.


Faculty launches music research site

last modified Jan 20, 2016 05:05 PM

The Faculty is pleased to announce the launch of its new research website. The site contains up to date information on the research activities of our staff, event listings including colloquia, seminars and conferences, and our new 'Research Features' page comprising the latest research news and commentary from Faculty of Music researchers.



Faculty of Music Photo Competition

last modified Mar 15, 2017 12:02 PM

Calling all Music Students, Researchers, Teachers and
Support Staff

We are looking for a photo to put on the front cover of the next year’s Undergraduate Course Handbook.

For your chance to win a £50 voucher for tea at Fitzbillies and have your photo credited in the booklet, download an application form from the Faculty website: and submit your entry to the Faculty of Music Admin Offices () by Monday 22nd May 2017

1. We’re looking for unique images of the Music Faculty to use on the front cover of the Tripos Course Guide
2. All entries must be submitted digitally as a jpeg file.
3. We may use your photo on our website and other Faculty of Music publications
4. All entries for the competition will automatically become the property of the Faculty of Music and may be returned on request.
5. If your photo includes any people, please check they are happy to appear before entering it into the competition.
6. The competition is opened to all Music Students and members of the Faculty (except those members of the judging panel)
7. The judging panel is made up of the Faculty Chairman, Communications Manager, Faculty Manager, and Administrative Assistant


Faculty of Music Teaching Prizes

last modified Nov 24, 2016 01:45 PM

The Faculty of Music Teaching Prize is awarded annually by the Music Faculty Board to a teacher who is normally not a University Teaching Officer or Affiliated Lecturer but who has made an outstanding contribution to the Faculty's teaching programme.  Nominations for the prize are sought and the prize of £100 is supported by the Brian Kirkbride Douglas Fund.
We are delighted to announce that two prizes have been awarded in 2016, to Chloe Alaghband-Zadeh and to Ross Cole.  Many congratulations to them both.

Francesca Vella awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Faculty of Music

last modified Jun 05, 2017 09:21 AM

We are delighted to announce that Francesca Vella has been awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Faculty of Music from the autumn of 2017. Francesca completed her PhD about Verdi reception in late 19th-century Milan at KCL, before taking up a junior research fellowship at St John’s College, Cambridge. During the next three years, she will be working on a book project entitled Geographies of Opera in Italy, 1850–1872, which examines networks of opera production and reception in mid 19th-century Italy at both a trans-municipal and a transnational level (with an emphasis on the role played by emergent media of communication as well as transportation). Francesca looks forward to meeting and collaborating with students and colleagues with an interest in opera (and 19th-century music more at large!), and hopes to be able to contribute to Faculty life in many and varied ways.

Francesca Vella to be part of a Leverhulme-funded research network

last modified Dec 17, 2015 11:42 AM

Francesca Vella, who holds a Research Fellowship at St John’s College, will collaborate with researchers from UCL, Brown University and Universidade Estadual de Campinas on the three-year project Re-imagining Italianità: Opera and Musical Culture in Transnational Perspective, starting February 2016.

University College London has received an award of £124,789 from the Leverhulme Trust to establish an international research network to be based at the Centre for Transnational History, with collaborators in Cambridge, at Brown University (US) and Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil). Over a period of three years, starting in February 2016, the project Re-imagining Italianità: Opera and Musical Culture in Transnational Perspective will investigate nineteenth-century Italian opera industry on a global scale in order to critically assess existing ideas on the relationship between music and national identity. Based on a cross-disciplinary collaboration, the network will analyse nineteenth-century discourses on music and national character; trace the global circulation of people, ideas and goods associated with the Italian opera industry; and examine particular cities and institutions as sites of cultural encounters.

The project will be led by Axel Körner (UCL), Francesca Vella (Cambridge), Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg (Brown) and Paulo Kühl (Campinas).

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker appointed 36th Gresham Professor of Music

last modified Sep 19, 2019 12:29 PM

Gresham College, London’s oldest Higher Education Institution, is delighted to announce the appointment of Marina Frolova-Walker, Professor of Music History at the University of Cambridge, as the next Gresham Professor of Music.

Past Gresham Professors of Music include John Bull, Iannis Xenakis, John Dankworth, and Christopher Hogwood. Frolova-Walker is the second woman to hold this position in the College’s history (after Joanna MacGregor).

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker is a specialist in the Russian music of the 19th and 20th centuries. She has published extensively on Russian music and is a well-known lecturer and broadcaster for BBC Radio 3. Among her many awards and appointments, she is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded the Edward Dent Medal in 2015 by the Royal Musical Association for her achievements in musicology. She was a Visiting Professor of Russian Music at Gresham in 2018-19.

Professor Marina Frolova-Walker said:

“I am honoured and excited to take up the position of 36th Gresham Professor of Music, and I am delighted to have such eminent predecessors as John Bull and Iannis Xenakis. Bringing knowledge about music to a broader public has always been one of my passions, and the work of several recent Professors of Music such as David Owen Norris and Roger Parker has been an inspiration for my own activities as a public lecturer.

“My first lecture series features the artistic project of the Ballets Russes, brainchild of the great impresario Serge Diaghilev. Prior to Diaghilev, no one thought that ballet could be transformed into a provocatively modern art, a platform for cutting-edge experiments in music, choreography and design. The project had its roots in Diaghilev’s inspired marketing of “Russianness” in the Parisian arts world, and he continued to develop his ideas until his circle had become an international hotbed of artistic innovation. “Surprise me!”, Diaghilev would say to anyone with a new proposal, and he did indeed bring about a stream of artworks that still surprise and delight us today.”


As Gresham Professor of Music Professor Frolova-Walker will continue the 421-year-old tradition of delivering free lectures aimed at the public within the City of London and beyond. During the academic year, Gresham College fills lecture halls for its lectures – a total of 130 a year. All Gresham lectures are live-streamed. More than 2,000 past lectures are freely available to view on the College’s website. The Music Professorship is one of the original seven Gresham Professorships established in Sir Thomas Gresham’s will.

Sir Richard Evans, Provost of Gresham College, said:

“We are delighted to welcome such a distinguished Professor of Music to Gresham College and we look forward to Marina Frolova-Walker bringing her expertise as Britain’s leading authority on Russian music to our Music lecture programme”

Fully-funded Doctoral Places

last modified May 12, 2014 01:34 PM

Following the award of £14.2 million over five years to the University of Cambridge, the Faculty of Music is pleased to announce three fully-funded, full-time AHRC doctoral studentships beginning in October 2014.

Applications should be made by Friday 10 January. Guidelines for applicants are available here.

Please note that only Home/EU students are eligible to apply, and that candidates should tick the AHRC box in section B of the GRADSAF form.

Additional Graduate Funding Opportunity

last modified Nov 06, 2018 09:45 AM

The Faculty of Music is delighted to announce the gift of a new PhD Scholarship in opera studies to be held at Christ's College.

The Richard and Annie Greenhalgh Scholarship is open to PhD (full-time) applicants accepted by the Faculty of Music for 2019 entry, to support one outstanding student whose research topic is, in order of preference: opera, or cultural and historical musicology of the nineteenth century.  The scholarship will cover for three years the full University fees of a Home/EU student plus the minimum maintenance figure required by the University of Cambridge: typically £22,000 in total.  Students with overseas fees status would receive only the UK equivalent of the fees and maintenance figures.  
Visit the Christ's College website for further information and how to apply.

New Funding for Graduate Study

last modified Oct 17, 2018 11:32 AM

The Faculty of Music is delighted to launch the William Barclay Squire Graduate Studentships, offering substantial funding to support graduate students joining the Faculty’s MPhil or PhD programmes from October 2019.  See our Funding Graduate Study page for further details.

We are also excited to offer a PhD Studentship as part of the ERC-funded project Past and Present Musical Encounters across the Strait of Gibraltar which will also be available for students joining us in October 2019.  See the Graduate Admissions pages for further details.

Griff Rollefson at Rest is Noise Festival

last modified May 12, 2014 01:25 PM

Lecturer in Popular Music, J. Griffith Rollefson, will be joining a panel discussion as part of the Rest is Noise Festival at London's Southbank Centre on Thursday 14 November at 6:30 pm.  His presentation will focus on the contradictions of Americanization with regard to hip hop in Europe as part of the Festival's Superpower Weekend.

How research at Cambridge Faculty of Music is bringing lost songs back to life

last modified Mar 23, 2016 10:12 AM
How research at Cambridge Faculty of Music is bringing lost songs back to life

‘Unless sounds are held by the memory of man, they perish, because they cannot be written down’ – Isidore of Seville (c. 630 AD)

Performing Lost Songs of the Early Middle Ages

The Project: How research at Cambridge Faculty of Music is bringing lost songs back to life

Research from the Faculty of Music is bringing to life songs that have been lost to scholars for centuries. A collaboration taking place in April with Sequentia will culminate in a public concert marking the first performance of most of these songs in around 1000 years.

Some two centuries after Isidore’s lament, a form of practical musical notation (‘neumes’ ) was introduced in Western Europe. These neumes indicated melodic direction and details of vocal delivery without specifying every pitch, serving as a mnemonic alongside oral transmission. But today they pose a problem – the traces of lost song repertories survive, but not the aural memory that once supported them. We know the contours of the melodies and many details about how they were sung, but not the precise pitches that made up the tunes.

Hundreds of Latin songs were recorded in neumes from the ninth through to the thirteenth centuries. These include settings of the classics (purple passages from Horace and Virgil among others), late antique authors (including Boethius and Martianus Capella) and medieval texts from laments through to love songs. Until recently, the pitches for only a handful of songs had been recovered.

But research conducted at the University of Cambridge over the last two decades by Sam Barrett has made a breakthrough by identifying the techniques used to set particular verse forms. The scholarly groundwork involved in gathering together surviving notations and piecing together principles of musical setting culminated in 2013 in a two-volume study of over one hundred neumatic notations for Boethius’ On the Consolation of Philosophy.

What remained was the final leap into sound. This required a second stage of collaboration with experienced performers who had built up their own working memory of medieval song. The ideal collaborator was found in Benjamin Bagby, co-founder of Sequentia and director of a Lost Songs Project that has already brought to life several parallel medieval song repertories from Beowulf through to the Carmina Burana.

Over the last two years, Bagby and Barrett have experimented with realisations, testing scholarly theories against the practical requirements of hand and voice, exploring the possibilities offered by accompaniment on period instruments, and experimenting with the potential of performance to deliver dramatic readings of the text. Working step by step through multiple realisations, they have arrived at reconstructions that respect the complementary demands of scholarship and performance.

Three events taking place towards the end of April at Pembroke College will present the first fruits of this collaboration to the general public. The focus of all three events will be on reconstructing melodies for the poetic portions Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy as recorded on a rediscovered leaf of the eleventh-century Cambridge Songs Manuscript that is now housed in the University Library.

The week’s events will be:

1) a concert at 8pm on Saturday 23 April in Pembroke College Chapel, in which Benjamin Bagby and two other members of Sequentia will present a programme entitled Songs of Consolation from Boethius to the Carmina Burana. Tickets can be purchased here.

2) a workshop from 2-4pm on Friday 22 April in the Old Library, Pembroke College, for early music singers, flautists and harpists.   Discover the techniques that lie behind reconstructions and explore ways in which modern musicians can delivery effective and informed performances of early medieval song! To sign up, fill out the form here by 8 April.

3) an open rehearsal from 2-4pm on Wednesday 20 April in the Old Library, Pembroke college, allowing insight into the working methods employed in shaping melodic realisations. To reserve a seat, email

This collaborative project is supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, the Cambridge Humanities Research Grant Scheme, Pembroke College, the Faculty of Music and the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies (CMPS). Benjamin Bagby will be a Visiting Artist at the CMPS for the duration of his stay.


Iain Fenlon awarded Wiener-Anspach Foundation research grant

last modified Aug 21, 2014 09:12 AM

Iain Fenlon has been awarded a two-year research grant by the Wiener-Anspach Foundation to pursue a research project with the theme 'Crossing Boundaries, Defining States: Confession, Music and Territoriality in the Southern Netherlands and the Principality of Liège (c.1500-1650)', in collaboration with Marie-Alexis Colin of the Université Libre de Bruxelles. The project, which will begin in October 2014, runs in parallel with a six-year research project 'Themes of Conversion', funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and organised in collaboration with CRASSH,for which Iain is a Principal Investigator. The second workshop in the series 'Sound in the City', which is part of this project, will take place in the spring of 2015

Iain Fenlon elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

last modified Mar 15, 2016 10:12 AM

The Faculty of Music congratulates Iain Fenlon on being elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Ian Cross named as Editor-in-chief of new SAGE journal, Music & Science

last modified Jun 09, 2017 10:17 AM

SAGE Publishing today announced a partnership with the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE) to launch a new open access journal Music & Science, providing a platform for engaged debate and insight into music research from a wide range of scientific perspectives.

Scientific research is integral to gaining a greater understanding of how music is a cultural phenomenon and is yet grounded in our biology. Interdisciplinary in scope and focus, the journal will publish research from a wide cross-section of disciplines and perspectives that will illuminate—or that can be illuminated by—scientific approaches to understanding music, from cognition, neuroscience and psychoacoustics to computational approaches and studies in digital culture. The first papers are due to be published in September 2017.

Editor-in-Chief Ian Cross remarked:
Our point of departure is the idea that science—or, more accurately, the sciences—can help us to make sense of music and its significance in our lives. This journal is a much needed space for scholars to communicate new insights in music and science research, helping to broaden our understanding of how music, culture and biology are linked. Together with SAGE Publishing and SEMPRE, I am excited to bring this new forum into the community, and look forward to debating and sharing new ideas with a broad and international audience base.

Graham Welch, SEMPRE Chair, commented:
Two years in the planning, the new online, open-access journal Music & Science has been developed in recognition of the ever-expanding fields of research related to music. Over the past five years, our analysis shows that there has been wide disciplinary development across the sciences and music and consequently we would like to celebrate and support these advances by bringing such research under one multi-science publication umbrella in order to nurture new knowledge, new audiences and greater cross- and interdisciplinary recognition. Such a journal is intended to expand our horizons whilst complementing SEMPRE's existing journals.

Miranda Nunhofer, Executive Director, Humanities and Social Science Journals, SAGE Publishing, further commented:
Music & Science is an exciting new open access venue for the publication of new insights across the expanding research field of music and science. We are delighted to be working with SEMPRE to facilitate the publication and dissemination of research in this innovative and interdisciplinary area of study. The journal is an exciting new addition to our expanding open access programme at SAGE, and to our portfolio of music journals.

Find out more about the journal:

Ian Dickson appointed Assistant Professor (Teaching) at Durham University

last modified Aug 22, 2017 08:19 AM

We are pleased to announce that Ian Dickson has been appointed to a
permanent post of Assistant Professor (Teaching) at the Department of
Music, Durham University. He will be teaching various subjects in the
department, including techniques of composition and orchestration. Ian
is writing up a PhD on the concept of sound in modernist music
aesthetics under the supervision of Prof Nicholas Cook. He was
previously awarded a PhD in Composition by the University of York.

Ingalls appointed Assistant Professor at Baylor University, Fellow at Yale University

last modified May 12, 2014 01:31 PM

Dr. Monique Ingalls, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the Cambridge Music Faculty since 2011, has been appointed Assistant Professor at the Baylor University School of Music. Ingalls, an ethnomusicologist who researches contemporary Protestant congregational worship music, will teach in Baylor’s newly established Ph.D. and D.M.A. programmes in church music and be affiliated with the Center for Christian Music Studies. 

Ingalls has also been named a Fellow of the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music for 2014-15. The Yale ISM is an interdisciplinary research centre that supports scholarship on music, worship, and the arts within diverse religious traditions and public life. During the fellowship period, Ingalls will complete her monograph Made to Worship: Performing Evangelical Protestantism through Praise and Worship Music while overseeing the publishing initiatives of the Congregational Music Studies network and conference.  

Jae-Moon Lee selected for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Composers' Day

last modified Dec 15, 2016 08:36 AM

Jae-Moon Lee has been selected for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Composers' Day 2017. Lee's composition, M.O.N.T.A.G.E. for flute, clarinet, violin and cello, will be performed by the Kokoro (the Orchestra's contemporary music group) and conductor Mark Forkgen at the Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts in Poole on the 18th February 2017. The scheme will also offer opportunities to have workshops with the project leading composer, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and the BSO musicians.

For more information, click here.

Jae-Moon Lee wins Ensemble IPSE competition

last modified Feb 06, 2017 10:28 AM

Jae-Moon Lee has been chosen as the winning composer at Ensemble IPSE's call for
scores competition 2017. 152 compositions were submitted from 120 composers in 18 different countries. The winning work, M.O.N.T.A.G.E. for flute, clarinet, violin and cello, will be performed by the Ensemble IPSE in Brooklyn, New York on the 5th of March 2017.

ENSEMBLE IPSE is a contemporary music pierrot sextet based in NYC. The group presents recent music that transcends aesthetic categorization and strives to create a forum for composers on the edges of the mainstream of contemporary music.

Jae-Moon Lee
IPSE Ensemble

Jâms Coleman wins First Prize in Instrumental Blue Riband Competition

last modified Sep 30, 2015 10:32 AM

Many congratulations to music alumnus Jâms Coleman, who won First Prize in the over 19 Instrumental Blue Riband Competition at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and joint First Prize at the John Fussell Award at the Swansea International Festival.

Joanna MacGregor Masterclass – 2.00pm, 27 November

last modified Nov 25, 2014 11:34 AM

We are delighted to welcome Joanna McGregor to the Faculty on Thursday 27 November, from 2.00pm–4.00pm for a piano masterclass.

The event forms part of the Practising Performance Series and will take place in the Recital Room at the Faculty of Music.

Joel Williams and Douglas Tang win Anthony Lewis Memorial Prize Competition

last modified May 12, 2014 01:12 PM
Joel Williams and Douglas Tang win Anthony Lewis Memorial Prize Competition

Douglas Tang

King's Choral Scholar Joel Williams (tenor) has won the Sir Anthony Lewis Memorial Prize Competition. Senior Organ Scholar Douglas Tang won the accompanist prize.

The prize is organised by music publishers Musica Britannica and is open to one singer from each of 14 universities and conservatoires around the country. As well as Joel from Cambridge, this year's final had representatives from Trinity Laban, Leeds University, the Guildhall School of Music, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music.

For more information, click here.

John Rink to appear on Radio 4’s “Something Understood”

last modified Nov 10, 2017 05:35 PM

John Rink will appear on the BBC Radio 4 programme, "Something Understood" on Sunday 12 November 2017, talking about the creative aspects of music-making and performance.

For the full article follow this link to St John's College website:'s-"something-understood"


John Rink to judge International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition

last modified Sep 24, 2015 09:03 AM
As 82 of the world’s most accomplished young pianists gather in Poland for the prestigious 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, John Rink – Professor of Musical Performance Studies in the Music Faculty and a member of the Competition jury – reflects on the challenges and rewards of selecting the winning performances.



Sir John Tomlinson events 23–27 February

last modified Feb 23, 2015 03:25 PM

This is a reminder that Sir John Tomlinson, one of our most distinguished opera singers, is now in Cambridge to inaugurate the Humanitas Series in Vocal Music (organised by CRASSH).

The first event, Michelangelo in Song (music by Britten, Wolf and Shostakovich), takes place on Monday, 23 February in the West Road Concert Hall at 7.30pm and is followed by The Construction of the Role of Wotan (5.00pm on Wednesday, 25 February at West Road Concert Hall) and The Construction of the Role of The Minotaur (5.00pm on Friday, 27 February at West Road Concert Hall).

For the Friday event we are also delighted to welcome back to Cambridge Sir Harrison Birtwistle, to be in conversation with Sir John about his opera The Minotaur.

Please do come along to what promise to be fascinating events - full details are available on the CRASSH website at

José Manuel Izquierdo König wins first prize in 2015 Otto Mayer-Serra Competition

last modified Feb 15, 2016 09:45 AM

The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music at the University of California, Riverside, is pleased to announce the results of the 2015 Otto Mayer-Serra Competition, for the best essays on Iberian and Latin American Music, in either historical musicology or ethnomusicology. This annual competition honors the memory of the Spanish-Mexican musicologist Otto Mayer-Serra (1904-68) and seeks to continue his legacy of groundbreaking research. The OMS competition accepts submissions in Spanish or Portuguese. The first-prize award is for $2000, and second prize, $1000. When warranted, there is also an Honorable Mention. Winning articles will be published in the peer-reviewed online journal Diagonal: An Ibero-American Music Review (

First Prize: José Manuel Izquierdo König (Cambridge University): “El Militar Retirado de Pedro Jiménez de Abrill (Arequipa, 1784-Sucre, 1856): una tonadilla inédita en el Perú independiente." 

Second Prize: Ling Fung Chan (University of Florida): “Reconsiderar los elementos goyescos para la evolución de El Corregidor y la Molinera y El Sombrero de Tres Picos por Manuel de Falla.”

Honorable Mention: César D. Favila (University of Chicago): “Esposo de Paula, Ya, Jesús”: los contextos sacros y sociales de algunos villancicos de monjas novahispanas.”

Joy Lisney awarded the Sir Arthur Bliss Prize for Composition

last modified Dec 23, 2015 05:57 PM

The Sir Arthur Bliss Prize for Composition in 2015 has been awarded to former Joy Lisney who recently completed her M.Phil in Composition at Cambridge.  Joy is a highly talented young composer who is also a successful cellist. A recent piece for the Arditti Sting Quartet was premièred in Cambridge in November 2014. 

Kate Whitley sets Malala Yousafzai's UN speech to music for International Women's Day

last modified Mar 07, 2017 12:09 PM

Cambridge Music alumna Kate Whitley has been commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to set to music the text of a speech given by Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who survived a murder attempt by the Taliban, as part of programming for International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March.

The piece, called Speak Out, will be performed for the first time at the BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales and broadcast on Radio 3.


Katharina Clausius appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria

last modified May 23, 2017 09:10 AM

We are pleased to announce that Katharina Clausius has been appointed to the post of Assistant Professor in the School of Music at the University of Victoria, Canada. Katharina is a final year PhD student working on the intersection of opera, literature, and the visual arts in the Enlightenment under the supervision of Professor Nicholas Cook and Professor Peter Dayan (University of Edinburgh). The University of Victoria’s School of Music has a strong tradition of research and performance, and Katharina’s new post will involve teaching in the undergraduate and graduate programs and conducting research.

Inaugural Lecture: Katharine Ellis, 1684 Professor of Music

last modified Oct 16, 2018 08:38 PM

On 3 October 2018, Katharine Ellis delivered her Inaugural Lecture as 1684 Professor of Music. The lecture, entitled 'Looking for Trouble: Archives of French Music History', explores the tensions in the 'national' French music education system from the 1830s to Vichy. 



Kepler's Trial at the V&A

last modified Oct 30, 2017 03:21 PM

The Victoria and Albert Museum is to host a complete opera for the first time with a public performance of Kepler’s Trial on November 9, it has been announced. Tickets for the event, which is also the opera’s London premiere and takes place as part of the V&A’s new exhibition, Opera: Passion, Power and Politics, are available now through the museum website.

Kepler’s Trial tells the story of Katharina Kepler, the mother of the famous German Renaissance astronomer, Johannes. In 1615, Katharina was accused of witchcraft at the height of the European “witch-craze”, a frenzied period in which thousands of women were executed for alleged dealings in the occult.

Johannes, who was at the peak of a successful scientific career as the mathematician of the Emperor, abandoned his work and moved his family to southern Germany so that he could lead his mother’s defence. In the autumn of 1621, six years after her ordeal first began, Katharina was finally set free. Her family was torn apart by the affair and, exhausted, she herself died just six months later.

The opera was developed by a team based at the University of Cambridge, and involved academics and artists from Cambridge, London and elsewhere. It is based on The Astronomer And The Witch, a new, research-based study of Kepler’s unique defence and his mother’s life by Professor Ulinka Rublack, Professor of Early Modern European History at St John’s College, Cambridge, while the libretto and score were written by Tim Watts, a composer who teaches music at St John’s. The Director, William Ashford, is an alumnus of St John's, and producer Kate Romano also studied at Cambridge.

King's College/Hartley Rogers CBSO Scholarships in Orchestral Composition

last modified May 30, 2017 12:05 PM

Announcing the King's College/Hartley Rogers CBSO Scholarships in Orchestral Composition

The King's College/Hartley Rogers CBSO Scholarships in Orchestral Composition are the result of an exciting new partnership between King's College, the University of Cambridge Music Faculty and the world-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and made possible through a visionary gift from Hartley Rogers, a former pupil at King’s College School and a former member of the School Choir. The two 2017–2018 Scholarships will each allow a Cambridge student – regardless of College affiliation – to compose a new work for the CBSO and to hear it rehearsed and professionally recorded in two separate workshops. This is an unrivalled and invaluable opportunity for a serious and talented young composer interested in composing for orchestra.

The Scholarships are aimed at giving advanced student composers experience of working with a top-level professional orchestra.  

Each Scholar will be given two one-and-a-half hour rehearsal sessions with the full orchestra of eighty players in which a substantial new composition can be worked on in detail. The two sessions will be separated by a substantial gap, so that ideas can be refined and revised in the intervening period. The first session offers a chance to hear the work in draft form (which, aside from extended passages, may also include trying out specific ideas, e.g. a chord sequence scored in several different ways) before preparing a final version in time for the second session. The schedule is designed to allow composers to be bold, inventive and to take risks.

We are delighted to announce that in 2017–18, Scholars will have the opportunity to work with Ilan Volkov, one of today’s most adventurous and energetic conductors. Ilan Volkov is a highly sympathetic and experienced interpreter of new music, having held posts with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra amongst many others.

Both workshops will be recorded in their entirety. This enables composers to go back and review a comprehensive record of how various aspects of the piece worked, and revisit comments made in rehearsal by the players and conductor. At the end of the project, Scholars will come away with a recording of professional quality which can be edited into a complete performance for their own use. The recording can be uploaded to the internet but it may not be released commercially.

In addition, Scholars will have a smaller ensemble work performed in a special concert in King’s College by players from the Orchestra.



All students currently enrolled at the University of Cambridge are eligible to apply. It is understood that those in the final (or only) year of their course will not necessarily still be enrolled at the time of the final workshops.


How to Apply

Students wishing to apply should send a CV, two scores (with accompanying recordings if available – these should be in mp3 format and must be shared with on Dropbox), and a personal statement. The scores need not be for orchestral forces, but they should be substantial works which demonstrate an ability to write for the main families of orchestral instruments (thus, for example, two scores of works for strings only would be inadvisable).

The personal statement (750 words maximum) should include a proposal describing how you would use the Scholarship if selected (i.e. an outline of the piece you want to write and, if applicable, thoughts on how you would approach the workshops) and why now is the right moment for you to be given this opportunity. You should also refer to how the fulfilling the demands of the Scholarship would work in practice alongside your other commitments/opportunities in 2017–18. To be eligible, students must also confirm in writing that they will be available and will attend on the dates of both of the workshops in Birmingham.

The CV should list your compositions to date (including any for large ensemble/orchestra), your course, year and college affiliation, any prizes won, scholarships held etc.

All materials must be attached (in pdf form) to a single email addressed to marked with the subject CBSO Scholarship.
Deadline: Monday 19th June 2017

Applications will be reviewed by a panel including University of Cambridge Music Faculty members, senior members of the CBSO and professional guest composers. Successful applicants will be notified as soon as possible and will then be invited to compose a new work lasting c.10–12 minutes for an ensemble not exceeding:,3perc.,hp.,-

Composers may write for a subset of this ensemble, provided that they use at least two-thirds of the instruments listed. Usual orchestral doublings (piccolo (maximum 3 parts), cor anglais (maximum 1 part – not 1st Oboe), bass clarinet (maximum 1 part), Eb clarinet (maximum 2 parts), contra bassoon (maximum 1 part), cornet (any), trombones (maximum 2 tenor + bass). If any other instruments are required either doubling or in addition, a request can be put forward.

In exceptional circumstances, where a successful applicant wishes for a recently completed and unperformed orchestral work to be workshopped instead of writing a brand new work, this request will be considered by the panel.

Some assistance in the production of performing materials will be provided by the CBSO librarians; the exact nature of this will be discussed and agreed with participants at the outset of the Scholarship.

Throughout the Scholarship, mentoring will be provided by Richard Causton, University Reader in Composition.



June 19, 2017: deadline for completed applications
July 14, 2017: successful applicants will be notified
March 23, 2018: deadline for submission of score for Workshop 1
April 30, 2018: deadline for submission of parts for Workshop 1
June 15, 2018, 2.00–3.20pm & 3.40pm–5.00pm: Workshop 1, CBSO Centre, Birmingham
August 15, 2018
, deadline for submission of score and parts for Workshop 2
September/October 2018: Workshop 2, CBSO Centre, Birmingham












Greek National Opera commissions MPhil composer Apostolis Koutsogiannis

last modified Dec 06, 2018 03:48 PM

We are delighted to announce that MPhil Composition student Apostolis Koutsogiannis has won an open competition to write a new Ballet for the Greek National Opera.

Apostolis Koutsogiannis

Having studied composition with Giorgos Kyriakakis at the University of Macedonia Apostolis received the A.G Leventis Foundation Scholarship and is currently studying composition (MPhil) with Richard Causton at the Faculty of Music

In addition to the Greek National Opera project, Apostolis has received commissions from institutions such as Thessaloniki Concert Hall, Athens Concert Hall, University of Macedonia, Girls’ Choir of St Catharine College/ Cambridge, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Gaudeamus Academy, Municipality of Heraklion/Crete. His music has been performed, among others, by ensembles such as the Atlas Ensemble, Athens String Quartet, Ligeti Quartet, Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet, Orchestra of the University of Macedonia, Cretan Youth Orchestra.

Apostolis has also written music for three films and recorded for ECM records with Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet. His music was included in the double CD for the 20 years of the Department of Music Science and Art of the University of Macedonia.

Launch of new outreach project, "Roots"

last modified Jan 25, 2019 05:54 PM
Launch of new outreach project, "Roots"


'How best to support music in schools?'  

Does a new education initiative, Roots, led by Faculty of Music at the University of CambridgeVOCES8Cambridge Early MusicCambridgeshire MusicAnglia Ruskin University and The Brook Street Band hold the answer? 

Cuts in funding, reduced participation and falling numbers taking music have created an “existential crisis” (Lord Black, House of Lords, 18 October, 2018). 

Ahead of the newly appointed government panel’s first meeting to develop a model music curriculum (meeting on 5 February), and in response to an ever-deepening crisis which has seen only 295 teachers signing up to train as music teachers this year (a drop of 55% in the last 8 years), a new initiative has been launched this week by a unique partnership of leading research institutions, professional musicians, education providers and charitable bodies in Cambridgeshire. 

The three-year project, Roots, trials a new model for music provision within primary and secondary schools across the region. Despite Cambridge’s outward prosperity, the disparity in wealth and opportunity across the county is broad. Areas of Cambridgeshire are among the most deprived in the U.K. and many of its schools struggle to make provision for music.          

Roots draws together all ages in teaching music. The vocal strand is led by internationally acclaimed educators, VOCES8; the group is Associate Ensemble at the University of Cambridge and on 18 January released its latest album, Enchanted Isle, on Decca Classics. The strand trains teachers, university and school students in the VOCES8 method, encouraging learning through participation in a series of vocal and rhythmic exercises. In turn, teachers and older students train younger students to become leaders in their own communities, developing their confidence as young leaders. 

New resources and opportunities are also provided for classroom teaching. Researchers from the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge working as part of the SoundMe project, which is dedicated to exploring the use of the musical past in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe and its continued relevance, have collaborated with Cambridgeshire Music and school teachers to develop lessons in specialist areas informed by the latest insights. Towards the end of the project, participating students have the chance to visit college libraries to see for themselves some of the historical sources they have studied.

Curated by Roots partner Cambridge Early Music, the first phase of Roots concludes on 19 March with a public concert in celebration of the European Day of Early Music given by VOCES8 in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge. Secondary school students from across the county will have the chance to sing alongside VOCES8 in a concert in an aspirational setting. New skills developed by students will be put into practice in a programme that celebrates singing from Renaissance motets through to a cappella arrangements of Pop songs.  

A parallel strand within the project, led by the Brook Street Band working in conjunction with Cambridgeshire Music and Anglia Ruskin University, seeks to establish a legacy for early instrumental music in the region by founding a period instrument ensemble specifically for under 18s.  Specialist coaching will also be provided through workshops, access to historic instruments and the BSB’s innovative online resource Handel Digital, culminating in performance opportunities.

Roots is dedicated to supporting music teachers, providing new opportunities and resources to facilitate participation in school music-making and teaching in the classroom. It provides opportunities for a new generation to experience the richness of its cultural roots at a time when music’s place in school life and society is increasingly under threat.

The first phase of Roots is generously supported by the Helen Hamlyn Trust, the SoundMe project funded by Humanities in the European Research AreaCambridgeshire Music and Cambridge Early Music. Further funding is being urgently sought for years 2 and 3 of the project.

For more information about Roots or to discuss funding opportunities for the project, please contact Dr Sam Barrett ().