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 contributes to media discourse on the UK centenary of women’s enfranchisement

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Dr Christopher Wiley - photo from Get SurreyDr Christopher Wiley has given expert comment to the media on the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which granted the vote to over 8 million women in the UK for the first time.

Coverage of Dr Wiley focussed on his research on Ethel Smyth, who, in addition to being an internationally successful composer, was active for two years as a leading suffragette in the early 1910s, developing a close friendship with Emmeline Pankhurst.

Together with a University of Surrey colleague, Dr Lucy Ella Rose, a leading expert on the suffragist Mary Watts and author of Suffrage Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word, and Image, Dr Wiley gave a live interview on BBC Radio Surrey for the ‘Breakfast on BBC Surrey’ show hosted by James Cannon and Lesley McCabe on Tuesday 6 February 2018.

Dr Wiley was also featured alongside Dr Rose in an article in Get Surrey, ‘Suffragette Vote 100 anniversary: University celebrates two Surrey women who were highly influential during the suffrage movement’, by Shona Duthie and Hannah Dodd.

The online Get Surrey article includes a video in which both academics give interviews on their respective research subjects, with Dr Wiley performing Smyth’s famous suffragette anthem, ‘The March of the Women’, on piano.

The full Get Surrey article, including video, may be viewed here: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/suffragette-vote-100-anniversary-university-14249832

The BBC Radio Surrey live interview may be heard here: https://mms.tveyes.com/Transcript.asp?StationID=7180&DateTime=2%2F6%2F2018+8%3A52%3A52+AM&Term=University+of+Surrey&PlayClip=TRUE

The live interview is also available on BBC iPlayer (listen from 2:52:11): http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05vm2m4

Dr Christopher Wiley gives pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2017

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Rhoda McGaw Theatre, WokingDr Christopher Wiley delivered a pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2017, to introduce its production of Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking on Tuesday 7 November 2017.

Dr Wiley’s talk focussed on two principal issues, the portrayal of women in Così fan tutte and the work’s relationship with the genre of opera buffa, illustrated with a slideshow and audio excerpts. Held in the Rhoda McGaw Theatre adjacent to the main auditorium, it was attended by a large audience of some 150 opera-lovers.

A work well-known to Dr Wiley from his undergraduate teaching, he also discussed the opera’s historical background, characters and plot, and the ways in which its reception has changed over time, as well as the specific interpretation taken by Glyndebourne Tour in this revival of the 2006 production directed by Nicholas Hytner.

Dr Wiley has previously given pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne in 20162015, and 2014, mainly on operas by Mozart.

Dr Christopher Wiley gives pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne Tour 2016

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mk-galleryDr Christopher Wiley has delivered two pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne Tour 2016, to preface its productions of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, on 8 and 9 November, respectively.

Both talks were delivered at the MK Gallery, Milton Keynes prior to performances at the nearby Milton Keynes Theatre. Speaking to some 60 audience members, Dr Wiley introduced the plots and characters of the operas, their historical backgrounds, noteworthy features of the music (such as Puccini’s use of authentic Japanese tunes in the score of Madama Butterfly), and aspects of the interpretations taken by Glyndebourne’s productions.

Dr Wiley has previously given pre-performance talks for Glyndebourne in 2014 and 2015, but this is the first time that he has been invited to speak at Milton Keynes.

Update: Dr Wiley reprised his pre-performance talk on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly to some 60 opera-goers in the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking on 30 November, by way of introduction to Glyndebourne’s production later that evening in the adjacent New Victoria Theatre.

Dr Christopher Wiley gives pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2015


Rhoda McGaw Theatre, WokingDr Christopher Wiley delivered a pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2015, as a prelude to its production of Mozart’s opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail in the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, the tour’s final venue, on 1 December 2015.

Dr Wiley’s talk was held in the adjacent Rhoda McGaw Theatre, which was at capacity with some 200 opera-goers in attendance. Over the course of half an hour, Dr Wiley discussed the historical context of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, its extensive use of spoken dialogue, the virtuosic nature of some of its vocal writing, its orchestration and its portrayal of the East, as well as exploring aspects of Glyndebourne’s critically-acclaimed production.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which Mozart composed in 1781–2, holds a special place in Glyndebourne’s history: it was the work that brought its founder, John Christie, into contact with the soprano Audrey Mildmay, whom he subsequently married and who inspired the Glyndebourne Festival. This year’s production was the company’s seventh of the opera in its 80-year history.

The invitation for Dr Wiley to deliver this talk followed the success of his pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour in October 2014 on another Mozart opera, La finta giardiniera, and was similarly well-received.

Dr Christopher Wiley gives pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2014


Rhoda McGaw Theatre, WokingDr Christopher Wiley has given a pre-performance talk for Glyndebourne Tour 2014, to preface its production of Mozart’s opera La finta giardiniera in the New Victoria Theatre, Woking on 28 October 2014.

Speaking to an audience of over 100 opera-goers in the adjacent Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Dr Wiley endeavoured to enhance the audience’s experience and enjoyment of the evening’s performance by providing some contextual knowledge of the opera.

In the course of the half-hour talk, Dr Wiley explored the plot of La finta giardiniera, its historical background, and its significance within Mozart’s output, as well as drawing attention to noteworthy musical features and key aspects of Glyndebourne’s performance.

Mozart composed the score to his comic opera La finta giardiniera in 1774, at the age of 18. Glyndebourne’s acclaimed 2014 production was its first ever of this work.

Dr Christopher Wiley writes on Dame Ethel Smyth for the OUP Blog


Ethel SmythDr Christopher Wiley has contributed a text to the OUPblog, Oxford University Presss Academic Insights for the Thinking World, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the death of Dame Ethel Smyth, the pioneering composer and writer, on 8 May 1944.

Dr Wiley’s 1,000-word post, ‘Five facts about Dame Ethel Smyth’, may be read here: http://blog.oup.com/2014/05/facts-dame-ethel-smyth/

This blog entry follows Dr Wiley’s article on Smyth published in Oxford journal The Musical Quarterly last year.

To mark the anniversary, Dr Wiley also organized a lunchtime recital of Smyth’s music which took plan on 8 May 2014 in Woking, the town where she was resident from 1910 until her death.

Update: Dr Wiley’s blog entry was subsequently selected as one of the Editor’s Picks, appearing on the front page of the OUPblog for some weeks.

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