The University played host to the Royal Musical Association’s Annual Postgraduate Conference between 6 and 8 January. Just over 100 postgraduate students from across the UK, and beyond (participants came from China, Brazil, the United States, Canada and German) gathered for three days of discussion and debate.
The subjects of the papers given was impressively wide - from the early Renaissance to the early twentieth century in Art Music, many aspects of popular music and ethnomusicology, and there were also workshops for composers, both electroacoustic and instrumental. Although nearly all aspects of musicology were represented, there were particularly strong showings in Music Analysis (especially for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), film and video music, world musics, and British musical culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The instrumental composers’ workshop was also very successful, with six pieces being performed by members of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group under the direction of Daniele Rosina, Scott Wilson, Jonty Harrison and Howard Skempton.
These were complemented by a series of plenary sessions including ‘How to Get Published’ (Dr Laura Tunbridge, University of Manchester), the Jerome Roche Lecture, given by Dr Chris Chowrimootoo on Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and the composer Howard Skempton talking on ‘Exploring the Hinterland’. It was very unfortunate that our other keynote speaker, Professor Georgina Born (University of Oxford) was caught up in the ‘polar freeze’ in North America and was unable to reach Birmingham in time.
A postgraduate conference would be incomplete without a social dimension and we were grateful to Routledge for sponsoring a wine reception, and to Bank restaurant for hosting an evening meal for about half the delegates on the second day.