Dr Christopher Wiley gives public talk on Ethel Smyth for International Women’s Day 2018

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Dr Christopher Wiley at The LightboxDr Christopher Wiley has delivered a public talk on Dame Ethel Smyth at The Lightbox, Woking for International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March) 2018.

Addressing an audience of over 80 members of the public in The Lightbox’s Ambassador Room, Dr Wiley (pictured, left) spoke about Smyth’s life, music, and prose writings, with particular emphasis on her connections to Woking (her town of residence for over 30 years at the end of her life) and the surrounding area.

Dr Wiley also addressed the extent to which Smyth broke new ground for women both within and beyond the field of music composition, discussing her activity as a leading suffragette in the early 1910s as well as her war service, mindful of this year’s centenaries of women’s partial enfranchisement in the UK and of the end of the First World War.

A recognized expert on Smyth, Dr Wiley is frequently invited to give public lectures on the composer and writer, including recent appearances at The Guildford Institute and Frimhurst, Frimley Green (Smyth’s childhood home). This was the first of his several talks in the Surrey area this year, as well as one of a number of events commemorating Smyth for the Celebrate Woking Festival 2018.

Further information on Dr Wiley’s talk may be found here: https://www.thelightbox.org.uk/Event/ethel-smyth-composer-suffragette

The previous day, Dr Wiley had given an interview on Ethel Smyth at Woking Golf Club (pictured, below, with presenter Tim Matthews) for an episode of Pyrford TV Arts due to be released online in April.

Dr Christopher Wiley at Woking Golf Club

Dr Christopher Wiley addresses interdisciplinary Suffragette Symposium at Edge Hill University

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Dr Christopher Wiley - Edge Hill University - Suffragette SymposiumDr Christopher Wiley has spoken at the Suffragette Symposium hosted by the interdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality Research Group (GenSex) at Edge Hill University on Wednesday 28 February 2018.

His paper subjected to renewed critical scrutiny the claim that Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate, composed following her two years’ service as a suffragette in the 1910s, constitutes a ‘feminist opera’.

The presentation, entitled ‘Ethel Smyth, Music, and the Suffragette Movement: Reconsidering The Boatswain’s Mate as Feminist Opera’, explored the work’s refashioning of pre-existing music including two of Smyth’s suffrage songs used in its Overture, as well as a range of adaptations of traditional music.

Addressing an audience of some 35 delegates comprising both academics and members of the public, Dr Wiley also discussed the opera’s indebtedness to the short story by W.W. Jacobs on which it is based, and made consideration of Smyth’s creative process as documented in contemporaneous correspondence with Emmeline Pankhurst.

Edge Hill University shieldFurther information on the Suffragette Symposium may be viewed online: https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/wonder-women/gensex/

The full programme is available here: https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/wonder-women/files/2018/02/Suffragette-Symposium-Programme.pdf

Speaker biographies and abstracts may be found at the following link: https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/wonder-women/files/2018/02/Suffragette-Panel-Bios.docx.pdf


Dr Christopher Wiley delivers Keynote lecture at international conference at the University of Amsterdam

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Dr Christopher WJanuary 2018_Amsterdam_Poster 2018 Workshop Transnational Perspectives on Artistsiley gave a Keynote lecture at the two-day international workshop, ‘Transnational Perspectives on the Writing of Artists’ Lives, 19th-21st centuries’, held at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands on 25–26 January 2018.

Dr Wiley’s 50-minute paper, entitled ‘Musical Biography as a National and Transnational Genre’, explored the extent to which composer life-writing reflects the preoccupations and concerns of its time and place of origin while simultaneously embodying pan-European values that remain strikingly robust across texts from different countries and centuries.

Addressed to an interdisciplinary audience primarily from The Netherlands, France, the UK, and US, Dr Wiley’s lecture developed research previously presented at the University of Oxford, and generated much productive discussion from delegates.

An internationally acknowledged expert in the field, Dr Wiley has given a number of previous keynotes at conferences on biography, including the four-day ‘(Auto)Biography as a Musicological Discourse’ held at the University of Arts, Belgrade in 2008.

The full schedule for the workshop may be viewed here: http://www.uva.nl/en/shared-content/subsites/amsterdam-institute-for-humanities-research/en/events/events/2018/01/transnational-perspectives-artists-lives.html

The programme is also available online as a PDF: https://www.huizingainstituut.nl/v02/wp-content/uploads/Programme-Workshop-Transnational-Perspectives-on-Artists-Lives-2-Jan-18.pdf

Dr Christopher Wiley co-organizes international multi-disciplinary conference on Writing About Contemporary Artists at the University of Surrey

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Keynote - Annie Yim, Christopher Le Brun, and Christopher WileyDr Christopher Wiley was Chair of the Conference Committee for an international, multi-disciplinary three-day conference entitled Writing About Contemporary Artists: Challenges, Practices, and Complexities’, held at the University of Surrey from 20-22 October 2017.

Hosted and sponsored by the University’s Institute of Advanced Studies, the conference brought together scholars and practitioners in fields including musicology, theatre studies, dance and choreography, literature, film, digital media, and the visual arts. Its 70 participants represented a strongly international delegation drawn from North and South America, Australia, South Africa, and across Europe and the UK.

Dr Wiley compèred and co-authored the event’s central Keynote Concert and Dialogue (pictured above) given by MusicArt London, featuring the distinguished painter Christopher Le Brun (President of the Royal Academy of Arts) and pianist Dr Annie Yim (St John’s Smith Square Young Artist in Residence 2016/17), with additional contributions by composer Richard Birchall.

Dr Wiley also acted as chair and panel member for the final conference session (pictured below), a roundtable on ‘Contemporary artists, contemporary writing: Internet and social media’, at which he spoke about his reviewing activity across the art disciplines for digital magazine Musical Theatre Review as well as his guest-blogging for sites such as the Association of National Teaching Fellows blog and Oxford University Press Blog.

Further information may be found at the conference website: http://www.ias.surrey.ac.uk/workshops/artistswriting/

The full programme (including abstracts) may be downloaded here: http://www.ias.surrey.ac.uk/workshops/artistswriting/papers/Writing%20About%20Contemporary%20Artists%20conference%20_%20Proggramme.pdf

Roundtable - Christopher Wiley, Björn Heile, Katie Beswick, and Ian Pace

Update: Online reports on the conference are available at the following links:




Dr Christopher Wiley delivers paper at Collaborating Couples conference at the University of Bristol

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Dr Christopher Wiley presented a paper at a two-day international conference entitled ‘Beyond Genius and Muse – Collaborating Couples in Twentieth-Century Arts’, held at the Victoria Rooms, University of Bristol on 18–19 April 2017.

Dr Wiley’s paper, Subject and Countersubject: The Prevalence of the Genius and the Muse in Musical Biography’, explored the pattern of collaborating couples that has emerged historically in musical biography, drawing on examples including Brahms and Clara Schumann, Ethel Smyth and Henry Brewster, Britten and Peter Pears, and Adele.

It built upon Dr Wiley’s previous scholarship conducted in this area across more than 10 years, of which the most recent output, his book chapter ‘Musical Biography and the Myth of the Muse’, was published in 2015.

The conference brought together some 50 academics from across Europe and the US, encompassing a range of topics in music, literature, and the visual arts.

Further information is available at the conference website: https://collaboratingcouples.wordpress.com/

Victoria Rooms

Dr Christopher Wiley gives talk on Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate for Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group

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Ethel SmythDr Christopher Wiley delivered a talk entitled ‘Ethel Smyth’s (feminist?) opera, The Boatswain’s Mate at the Millmead Centre, Guildford on 27 February 2017, for Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group.

The Boatswain’s Mate was the fourth of six operas composed by Smyth (who suffered from distorted hearing and deafness for the last several decades of her life), and was the most popular and most frequently performed during her own lifetime. It was recently released in its first complete modern recording by Retrospect Opera (of which Dr Wiley is a part).

An acknowledged expert on Smyth, Dr Wiley provided an outline of the circumstances of the composition of The Boatswain’s Mate, its plot, and interesting features of the music. He also discussed the extent to which the work constitutes a ‘feminist opera’, as has previously been suggested.

This is the second time that Dr Wiley has addressed Guildford Hard of Hearing Support Group, having delivered a presentation on Smyth’s life and works two years ago in January 2015. Dr Wiley has also recently given talks on Smyth at The Guildford Institute and at the composer’s childhood home in Frimley Green.

Dr Christopher Wiley delivers talk on Ethel Smyth at The Guildford Institute


Dr Christopher Wiley delivered a talk entitled ‘Dame Ethel Smyth, Groundbreaking Composer, Writer, and Suffragette’ at The Guildford Institute, Guildford on Wednesday 18 January 2017.

Speaking to a capacity audience of 70 in the Institute’s Assembly Room, Dr Wiley outlined Smyth’s significance to music, literature, and women’s suffrage, as well as her local connections to Surrey, illustrating his talk with excerpts from a variety of her works.

An acknowledged expert on the subject, Dr Wiley has recently given several talks on Ethel Smyth in the local area, including one at Smyth’s childhood home in Frimley Green, Surrey last September.

Further information on the event is available on The Guildford Institute’s website: http://guildford-institute.org.uk/whats-on2/dame-ethel-smyth-groundbreaking-composer-writer-and-suffragette/


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