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Dr Christopher Wiley organizes Study Day on Teaching and Creativity in Popular Music and convenes roundtable

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Dr Christopher Wiley organized a Study Day on ‘Teaching and Creativity in Popular Music’ at the University of Surrey on Saturday 10 June 2017, bringing together some 25 higher education academics from across England.

The day comprised a combination of paper presentations and innovative teach-in workshops, in which facilitators presented aspects of their teaching techniques in performance, songwriting, and production in genres ranging from musical theatre to hip hop.

Also included was a central roundtable discussion (pictured, below) on the subject of ‘Pedagogical Practice in Popular Music Teaching in Higher Education: Creative approaches and continuing challenges’, which Dr Wiley convened and on which he spoke about the challenges of designing an undergraduate module on genuinely contemporary popular music (specifically, Adele’s 25 album) in the absence of an established scholarly discourse on which to draw.

Study Day on Teaching and Creativity in Popular Music - Roundtable

The event was held under the aegis of the London and South-East England 21st Century Music Practice Research Network founded in 2016 between 20 higher education institutions, as one of a series of study days framed around its six headline themes.

Further information is available at the website for the Study Day: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/department-music-media/research-department/popular-music-teaching-creativity

The full programme for the event is available here: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Study%20Day%20on%20Teaching%20and%20Creativity%20in%20Popular%20Music%20(programme).pdf

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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 contributes essay to CD booklet for newly released Ethel Smyth recording

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The Boatswain's Mate - CD front coverRetrospect Opera’s newly released CD of Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate, the first complete modern recording of the work, includes an essay by Dr Christopher Wiley in the accompanying booklet.

The recording appears in the centenary year of Smyth’s comic opera, which premiered on 28 January 1916 at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London. It features singers Nadine Benjamin, Edward Lee, and Jeremy Huw Williams in the principal roles, accompanied by the Lontano Ensemble conducted by pioneering Smyth interpreter Odaline de la Martinez.

Dr Wiley is acknowledged as an academic expert on Ethel Smyth, with recent research activity including publication of a major journal article, a score preface, and promoting Smyth’s music in concert, in addition to giving several public lectures on the composer. His essay The Boatswain’s Mate in the context of Smyth’s life and works’ appears in the CD booklet alongside contributions by Odaline de la Martinez and Retrospect Opera’s Professor David Chandler.

The CD is available direct from Retrospect Opera at the following link: http://www.retrospectopera.org.uk/CD_Sales.html

It may also be ordered through Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Boatswains-Mate-Ethel-Smyth/dp/B01HIJX83Q/

Dr Christopher Wiley writes preface for new publication of Ethel Smyth study score

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Smyth, Variations on Bonny Sweet RobinDr Christopher Wiley has contributed a preface to a republication of an Ethel Smyth work – the Variations on Bonny Sweet Robin (Ophelia’s Song) for flute, oboe, and piano – as a study score.

The republication was one of the new releases for November 2015 by the publisher Musikproduktion Hoeflich. The score and parts are available to purchase for €16 from the publisher’s website here: https://repertoire-explorer.musikmph.de/product/smyth-ethel-3/

The complete text of Dr Wiley’s preface may be read in both English and in German translation (by Anke Westermann) here: https://repertoire-explorer.musikmph.de/wp-content/uploads/vorworte_prefaces/1724.html

Dr Wiley, who is recognised as a leading researcher on Ethel Smyth, has also promoted her music as a performer, including the Variations on Bonny Sweet Robin which featured as part of a commemorative recital of Smyth’s music on the 70th anniversary of her death in May 2014.

Bibliographic citation 

Wiley, Christopher. Preface for Study Score of Ethel Smyth, Variations on Bonny Sweet Robin (Ophelia’s Song). Munich: Musikproduktion Hoeflich, 2015. Available online at <https://repertoire-explorer.musikmph.de/wp-content/uploads/vorworte_prefaces/1724.html>.

Dr Christopher Wiley writes on ‘Les Misérables at 30’ for The Conversation

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Les MisérablesDr Christopher Wiley has contributed an article to The Conversation on the enduring popularity of Les Misérables, the world’s most successful musical, ahead of the 30th anniversary of its London production on 8 October 2015.

Dr Wiley’s article, ‘Les Misérables at 30: breaking hearts and records’, discussed aspects of the show’s plot and musical score, the role played by writers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and by producer Cameron Mackintosh, as well as more recent developments such as Tom Hooper’s 2012 film adaptation.

The full article may be read here: https://theconversation.com/les-miserables-at-30-breaking-hearts-and-records-48535

This is the second time that Dr Wiley has written for The Conversation, the first being a scholarly response to Stephen Fry, which has received 4,000 hits to date.

Founded in Australia in 2011 and launched in the UK in 2013, The Conversation is an independent global news website featuring stories and opinions sourced from the scholarly community. The University of Surrey is one of its founding UK partners.

Update: Dr Wiley’s Les Misérables article received over 1,300 hits by the end of 8 October (UK time), with readers fairly evenly distributed between the UK, US, Australia, and Continental Europe.

Dr Christopher Wiley delivers paper in the Music Research Colloquia series at the University of Oxford

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Dr Christopher Wiley presented his paper ‘National Trends in Musical Biography’ in the Music Research Colloquia series at the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford on 16 June 2015, to close the series for the 2014–15 academic year.

Speaking to some 25 academics and postgraduate students in the Faculty’s Denis Arnold Hall, Dr Wiley explored the relationship between musical biography and nationality, in terms of the status of the genre at particular times and places as well as its development over time.

Case studies upon which Dr Wiley drew included biographical retellings of the story of J.S. Bach’s keyboard contest with Louis Marchand, and the ideologies that emerge from the original volumes of the ‘Master Musicians’ series. Dr Wiley had presented earlier versions of this research at the Institute of Musical Research, University of London in 2015 and 2014.

The weekly colloquia are organized by graduate students and feature musicological research presented by a range of leading academics and younger researchers from universities around the world.

Details of Dr Wiley’s Research Colloquium may be found here: http://www.music.ox.ac.uk/event/research-colloquium-chris-wiley/

Faculty of Music, University of Oxford

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