PRiSM and Drake Music Artistic Partnerships Announced

We are pleased to welcome six multi-disciplinary artists to headline the RNCM PRiSM & Drake Music Lucy Hale Day on 3 February 2023.

4 January 2023

From left to right: Sarah Fisher | Bofan Ma | Oliver Vibrans | Tilly Chester | Kathryn Williams | Sonia Allori

RNCM PRiSM and Drake Music are delighted to appoint six multi-disciplinary artists – Sarah Fisher, Bofan Ma, Oliver Vibrans, Tilly Chester, Kathryn Williams, Sonia Allori – to jointly present the headline event on the Lucy Hale Day of Music, Disability and Technology at the Royal Northern College of Music, on Friday 3 February 2023. More info and tickets can be found at:

Lucy Hale Day of Music, Disability and Technology

Left: Megan Steinberg | Right: Ben Lunn

Curated by Megan Steinberg (RNCM PRiSM Lucy Hale Doctoral Researcher in association with Drake Music) and Glasgow-based composer Ben Lunn, the Lucy Hale Day will consist of a series of concerts, demos of accessible new music technology, workshops, film screenings, Q&A and talks. The day will also mark the end of Disability Awareness Week at the RNCM, with the aim of raising awareness of music by disabled, d/Deaf and neurodivergent artists in the UK.

The appointed artists will be working in three partnerships:

  1. Sarah Fisher & Bofan Ma to jointly develop a piece of composition entitled Mysteries of my mind, mixing up sounds of the piano and drums – the two groups of instruments that Fisher is most passionate about, as well as incorporating technology to develop something new, unlocking new ideas and mysteries.
  2. Oliver Vibrans & Tilly Chester to collaborate on Vibrans’ new piece Hatchet Job, exploring how haptic feedback influences how the instrument is written for and strives to open up new avenues in solo instrumental writing.
  3. Kathryn Williams and Sonia Allori to join Megan Steinberg to present This is happening for flute and Electronic Wind Instrument, exploring different perceptions of sound.

Lucy Hale Day is made possible by NWCDTP who are also supporting Megan Steinberg’s Lucy Hale Doctoral Award, a composition PhD carried out in association with Drake Music, with the aim of exploring and widening accessibility in music.

Drake Music are delighted to continue to build on our established relationship with PRiSM and support the creation of the DM PRiSM Artistic Partnerships. All of these artists are exceptional musicians, with compositional ideas that we fully expect will challenge preconceptions of disabled musicians, and push boundaries to new and exciting places.

Cat McGill (Head of Programme Development and Delivery, Drake Music)

Our support for these emerging multi-disciplinary collaborations reaches to the very heart of PRiSM’s commitment to addressing fundamental questions about what it means to be human and creative today. We’re excited to be furthering our partnership with Drake Music, and grateful for ongoing support from the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (AHRC Lucy Hale Doctoral Award) and Research England (E3).

Professor Emily Howard (Director RNCM PRiSM)

Artists’ Bios

Sarah Fisher

Sarah Fisher is a percussionist and pianist based in Gateshead, and a skilled community musician working in various settings. Having studied Community Music an undergraduate level through Sunderland University in 2012-2015, Sarah went on to complete her Masters in Community Music with The International Centre of Community Music at York St John University in 2018-2019.

As a music facilitator, Sarah works with various organisations including, Drake Music, Sunderland Music Hub, Sonic Bothy, amongst many others.

Sarah has Cerebral Palsy and a hyperkinetic movement disorder which affects her upper limbs and speech. She is a keen performer and has performed at numerous events, most notably her show TWITCH. Twitch was initially funded in partnership with Sage Gateshead in 2017, before going on to receive further funding for a tour around multiple venues around the country. Twitch combined music, disability and humour to showcase Sarah’s developing artistic identity as a musician with a disability, and to break down the barriers and show you can laugh about disability.

When not performing or leading sessions as a musician, Sarah works as a visiting lecturer at various universities in the UK teaching around Community Music and Inclusion, as well as presenting research at various conferences throughout the year and part of numerous music organisation boards.

I’m very excited to see what unravels from this partnership project, and to push myself in my composition approaches, as well as challenge the boundaries sometimes associated with music and disability. I can’t wait to see what the outcomes of this will be!

Bofan Ma

Bofan Ma is a Manchester-based composer-performer and multidisciplinary artist. Originally from China, he makes music that embodies a normalised, transnational creative identity, addressing issues around cultural bias, inclusion, and accessibility in the age of AI and machine learning.

He has worked with ensembles/initiatives including Shanghai Conservatory Chinese Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Distractfold, Psappha, ANU Productions Ireland, Ensemble X.y, Vonnegut Collective, Music Theatre Wales. His music has been heard across the globe, namely in the Shanghai Spring International Festival (China); Mise-en International Festival (USA); Hearing Art Seeing Sound International Festival (Armenia); and Darmstädter Ferienkurse (Germany).

Bofan is currently the Post-doctoral Research Associate at the RNCM Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music (PRiSM). He is one of the co-founders of the composer collective The Incógnito Project, as well as Chair for the Manchester branch of the international Contemporary Music for All (CoMA) network.

This is such a wonderful and important project, and I am so thankful to PRiSM and Drake Music for having me. I can’t wait to make great music together with Sarah, as well as to challenge the boundaries alongside her!

Oliver Vibrans

Oliver Vibrans is an Ivor Novello award winning composer and producer based in the UK working in theatre, film, radio and the concert hall.

Recent commissions include Monomyth for the Halle; music for two episodes of Charles Hazelwood’s landmark documentary Reinventng the Orchestra for Sky Arts; Treading Water for the BBC Philharmonic for BBC Radio 3; More Up, a piece for Chamber orchestra and electronics for The Halle, BBC Philharmonic and The Able Orchestra, winner of an Ivor Novello award, and nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society award 2020; Suspended Dance for BBC Radio 3, part of the Composers Postcard Project.

Oliver also is an advocate for disabled artists in his capacity as a board member for the Ivors Academy Trust, and on the EDI advisory board for Brighter Sound. Oliver has spoken on panels addressing the experience of disabled musicians for Orchestras Live, and at the ABO conference (Association Of British Orchestras)

Tilly Chester

Tilly Chester has performed across the country in venues including the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and Buckingham Palace. She has also performed across Europe including at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Cremona Concert Hall.

Tilly was a musician in residence with Paraorchestra in 2021-22 and has performed with them multiple times including with Coldplay at the London 2012 closing ceremony, and at Glastonbury 2019. Tilly is also a circus performer, both as a musician and as an aerialist. Tilly enjoys performing in a variety of music styles with a number of bands and DJs.

Tilly studied at Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal College of Music. She has also just completed her master’s degree in music therapy at the University of the West of England.

I am really excited to be collaborating with Oliver. I performed one of his works with Paraorchestra last year, which was fantastic and so I am really looking forward to working on a new project together.

Kathryn Williams

Kathryn Williams is a versatile flute soloist, orchestral player, and researcher.

Her solo work has recently been focused on creatively overcoming her experiences of chronic respiratory conditions through commissioning pieces limited to a single breath for her project, Coming Up for Air. The project was released in a “strangely fascinating” (BBC Music Magazine) album in 2019 by Huddersfield Contemporary Records, performed around the world, and featured in publications such as Breathe Magazine, TEMPO, and PAN (British Flute Society).

Kathryn has recorded for All That Dust, Another Timbre, NMC, and RVNG International. In addition to performing, Kathryn works part-time as a research and policy officer in equality, diversity, and inclusion for the Independent Society of Musicians.

I am honoured to be involved in Megan Steinberg’s compelling PhD project which puts accessibility at the start of the creative process. This is especially meaningful to me as the starting point considers the extraordinary collaboration I was lucky enough to have with Lucy Hale!

Sonia Allori

Sonia Allori is a composer, performer, researcher, and community music therapist. She completed a PhD in composition at Edinburgh Napier University which explored interactions between words and music.

She is currently Artist with The Sensory Collective – Independent Arts Projects (2021-23), Development Artist with Sonic Bothy (from 2019) and recently selected for Sound and Music – New Voices cohort 2022. Sonia performed in sensory theatre production Sound Symphony (Oily Cart/ Independent Arts Projects) which toured the UK in Spring/Summer 2022. Recent works are: Room to breathe (Drake Music Scotland, 2022) which opened Sound Festival 2022 – for iPad ensemble, electronic wind instrument, wind trio, spoken voice and prepared tracks; Spider(Drake Music Scotland, 2022) performed at Queens Hall, Edinburgh – for Digital ensemble and narrator;  F-email (Angel Field Festival, 2021) for alto flute, bass clarinet and vocal track; “Songs in isolation” (Disability Arts Online, 2021); “Curious-er” (Drake Music, 2020) for electronic wind instrument shortlisted for a Scottish New Music Award 2021.

Sonia is researching D/deaf performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

This collaborative new work has an intriguing premise with Megan Steinberg’s text interpreted by flautist Kathryn Williams which is then interpreted into stream of consciousness prose by creative captioners. In this way it builds upon my previous explorations of this process with Drake Music and Sonic Bothy where audio is illuminated for a deaf performer in text audio description, and I respond to the resulting transcript in real time.

Further information

Photo of Lucy Hale

Lucy Hale was a composer and disability advocate, who died in January 2021. Lucy was known for her innovative approach to composition and her passion for breaking down barriers. In 2021 Lucy was planning to begin her PhD at the Royal Northern College of Music, in partnership with Drake Music and PRiSM, having won Collaborative Doctoral Award funding to investigate disability and accessibility through the composition of new works for accessible musical instruments. This research continues in her name, now carried out by Megan Steinberg, who will be showcasing some of her work at this celebration of Lucy’s life.

Drake Music is the leading national organisation working in music, disability and technology, and has been pioneering the use of accessible music technology for over twenty years.

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