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Inspired by Digital

A partnership between an orchestra and QMUL’s Centre for Digital Music creating new connections between composers, state-of-the-art technologies, performers, and listeners.

  • School/Institute/Department: Inspired by Digital, London Chamber Orchestra
  • Subjects: Music, Engineering, Computer Science
  • Audience:
  • Status: Upcoming

LCO New: ‘Inspired by Digital’ 2012/13 was a partnership between the London Chamber Orchestra (LCO) and Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL).

The project invited young composers to submit proposals for a four- to five-minute work for at least four instruments that incorporated digital music technologies created by researchers at QMUL’s Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) in contemporary composition. These included B-Keeper, MuSA.RT, and the Magnetic Resonator Piano.

Doing this not only exposed the world of contemporary classical music to a new audience; it also introduced emerging composers and the general public to state-of-the-art digital music research, stimulating creative approaches to composing music and offering new listening experiences.

‘Inspired by Digital’ was unfolded in three phases:

  1. a study day featuring presentations by C4DM researchers and established composers from different genres, leading to a call for composition proposals by emerging composers, of whom up to six would be selected for the next phase;
  2. following a period in which the chosen composers were given access to the technologies and worked alongside C4DM researchers in order to integrate these technologies into their music, a workshop day in which their compositions were performed by an LCO ensemble and critiqued in an open workshop;
  3. a concert showcase of the final compositions, performed before an LCO season concert.

Twelve submissions from thirteen young composers were adjudicated by a panel of researchers and composers. They chose six composers to deliver five pieces in conjunction with LCO and C4DM, and were given access to the technologies and worked alongside the researchers on campus at QMUL in order to integrate these into their compositions. These were then presented in a workshop day at The Octagon, performed by an ensemble of some of London’s finest musicians, many of whom are LCO musicians.

This workshop day gave an opportunity for the young composers to receive feedback on their work from a number of different voices, including the conductor, the musicians, the researchers whose technologies were used in their piece, established composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, and audience members. The young composers also had the opportunity to talk about their pieces more informally with the musicians throughout the day, such as during the lunch and coffee breaks.

The composers presented final versions of their compositions in a concert showcase at Cadogan Hall on Friday 17 May YEAR, in a special pre-concert presentation before the final LCO season concert of 2012/13.

This project managed to encourage the integration of musical innovations, led by those at C4DM, into classical composition. The process brought together Queen Mary researchers with young and established composers and musicians providing a valuable professional development opportunity for the six young composers selected for the scheme. Opening the events to both traditional and non-traditional classical music audiences opens the processes of composition to the public and gave the chance for them to experience new styles and innovation in music.

This concert was recorded and published on the LCO website, and the LCO YouTube channel has a final edited video for each piece, including an interview with the composer and video footage from the concert showcase.

Images of the Inspired by Digital Workshop
Images of the Inspired by Digital Workshop
Images of the Inspired by Digital Workshop

This project was awarded Large Award funding from the Centre for Public Engagement and received funding from the Centre for Digital Music's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Platform Grant.

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