Squares Circles Labyrinths

The Q Club, Birmingham

The Department of Music ventured out of its comfort zone in March when Professor of Composition, Vic Hoyland, Professor of Composition and Electroacoustics, Jonty Harrison and Director of the Centre for Early Music Performance and Research (CEMPR), Mary O'Neill persuaded students, colleagues and Alumni to join them at The Q Club, Birmingham’s underground Drum and Bass / Rave venue.

Not a glow stick in sight, the Music Department hired the venue for a production featuring 20th Century European avant garde works by Stockhausen and Berio, and choral works from the Renaissance period. More than 150 students took part in the two sell out performances on 18 and 19 March, along with members of Birmingham Opera Company, BEAST and University Alumni.


Paul Driver, The Sunday Times "It was one of those occasions when the audacity and sensuous adventure of avant garde music filled me with a mad joy. There seemed a spirit of generosity in the hall, and the event continued in this productive vein. Quite unselfconsciously, it undid the conventional concert format’"

Stockahausen’s Carré opened the show, with the audience surrounded by 4 groups of instrumentalists and 4 choirs, each with its own conductor. Audience members travelled from as far as London, Belfast, Amsterdam, and Canada to hear this rarely performed highlight of Stockhausen’s output. Birmingham University Singers then performed Allegri’s Miserere and Tallis’s 40-voice motet Spem in alium under Marcus Huxley, adding a second dimension to the concept of ‘Music and Space’ with the audience seated above the choir in the gallery of the Q club, which many will know better as Central Methodist Hall. Jonty Harrison then conducted Berio’s music-theatre work Laborintus II, with production from Vic Hoyland, assisted by Emily Gottlieb (a former pupil of Vic’s now based at the Royal Opera House).


Andrew Clements, The Guardian "The evening was a remarkable achievement for we what were almost entirely student performers….it was clearly very good fun"


Stephen Saltaire, Chairman of BCMG "It’s really encouraging that such a bold and top quality event can be put on through the resources of the University"