RNCM PLAY Festival Programme

THU 18 – SAT 20 MAR 2021

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible”  Frank Zappa

RNCM students don’t give up lightly.

Join us for the first ever RNCM PLAY Festival – a festival that showcases what our amazing students have been up to during one of the most challenging periods of their young lives.

Playing, learning, and innovating, despite all circumstances.

Over three days, RNCM students share the music that has meant most to them in the only way they can right now – through the medium of online.

So, please join us to hear the RNCM play. But not in the way you might usually expect.

THU 18 MAR // 1pm


Evan Chambers Deep Flowers
Connor O’Toole saxophone

“This project revolves around reflection. Deep Flowers is a reflection on the music of Javanese Gamelan. The visuals of this project are taken from my hikes that I’ve taken around my home in the US, where there is much self-reflection.”  Evan Chambers

Athanasia Kontou After the Sundown
Ellada Angelina Pavlou piano

“Originally composed for an RNCM workshop with virtuoso Ian Pace, ‘After the Sundown’ is a very personal piece, inspired by a favourite Greek popular song and drawing from an emotionally intense experience of my life last year.”  Athanasia Kontou

Eric Sammut Caméléon
Mark Ford Moon Chasers
Harriet Kwong marimba

“A message told through two pieces: no matter where we are, what challenges we are facing in this changing world, we are still connected.”  Harriet Kwong

Joseph Horovitz Variations on a Theme of Paganini
Rosamund Brass Quartet

“Two movements from Joseph Horovitz’s ‘Variations on a Theme of Paganini’ which we rehearsed and recorded remotely during lockdown.”  Rosamund Brass Quartet

Cori Smith Ten Pound Lass
Coraleigh Kelly Edwards, Sarah Binti Razlin violin
Cori Smith viola
Ellen Quinn cello

“Drawing on an English folk tune I found in the Playford Dancing Master manuscripts over lockdown, I have written a piece for my quartet which explores human communication and musical interaction – which has, after lockdown, changed for me and many other musicians.”  Cori Smith

Claude Debussy Ondine from Préludes Book II
Béla Bartók Dances 1 and 4 in Bulgarian Rhythm
Caroline Bordignon When Light Dances Upon the Hungarian Sea
Fruzsina Lilla Szűcs, Zijun Xu piano
Caroline Bordignon painting 

“We present a performance of piano works with a live painting element, exploring my interest and research in music, live painting and synaesthesia.”  Caroline Bordignon


THU 18 MAR // 8pm

CoMA MANCHESTER: ‘To be held for a long time’

CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) enables musicians of all abilities to participate actively in contemporary music.

Presented by RNCM PhD composition student Ellen Sargen, this collaborative audio-visual project between CoMA Manchester and RNCM students and alumni gives a flavour of how the group have adapted over the last year during lockdown, and includes soundwalks, remote collective music-making and Zoom rehearsals.


Chris Hobbs Walk Event (1968)

Walking at your usual pace, think of a number between one and twenty and on the appropriate step, whistle any short note. Before the next step after this, think of another number between 1 and 20, whistle at the appropriate time and so on.

Ellen Sargen (arr) Song for CoMA (2021)

Ensemble members recorded clips of different behaviours at their homes before coming together to create a tutti improvisation using these same behaviours. This piece is the composer’s cut of this collected footage, the editor having regained complete control over the players. The commentary reflects on the questions and concerns that arose through this process. To view (and contribute to) the project in its entirety, go to https://ellensargen.com/portfolio/song-for-coma/ .

Bofan Ma Upfold, Downfold, Unfold (2021)

An audio-visual collage, exploring the beauty of the everyday, and the fun of dubbing.

This was a game played remotely. All the materials for the collage were sourced individually and independently by each player, instead of from a collective rehearsal or performance. It was also a two-part challenge, in which all sound associated with the image was made retrospectively. Each ensemble member produced a silent film that documents a plainly mundane event. The films were then exchanged amongst the group, before everyone captured and superimposed a reimagined sonic appearance on top of the footage received.

La Monte Young Compositions 1960 #7 (1960)

To be held for a long time”.

Amber Priestley Is this the correct amount of social distancing? (2020)

Players played a private game of eye spy with themselves in Fletcher Moss Gardens, Didsbury during our only physical meet up in 12 months. Upon sharing these recordings, others are invited to observe their own environment while listening.

For details of CoMA Manchester’s next projects or to join, please visit www.coma.org/manchester.


FRI 19 MAR // 1pm


Jed Upjohn Hey Neighbour
Written, produced, filmed, edited by Jed Upjohn

“‘Hey Neighbour’ is a song and accompanying video that I made towards the end of last term; it explores the anxieties and humours of being isolated for too long.”  Jed Upjohn

José del Avellanal Carreño A Landscape for Olivia
José del Avellanal Carreño video editing
Olivia Palmer-Baker bassoon sounds
Sofia Carreño Vicente visual art 

A brief electronic composition that provided some reassurance and purpose in a time of many doubts and fears. Created in long-distance collaboration with bassoonist Olivia Palmer-Baker, and featuring original visual content developed in collaboration with painter Sofía Carreño.”  José del Avellanal Carreño

Emily Pedersen Graph
Emma Robinson violin 

“This piece was inspired by the graph of daily COVID-19 deaths. It is a piece of data music: I allocated each digit (1-9) a corresponding note and used these to outline the daily death tolls from March to mid-May 2020.”  Emily Pedersen

Six Four Six
Amber Jordan saxophone
Matthew Peacock guitar and vocals
Gareth Jones Keyboards and piano
Tommy Sarosi bass
Zach Okwonkwo drums 

“A COVID inspired, digitally collaborative composition that uses set creative parameters influenced by the word ‘COVID’ (Chords, Ostinato, Voices, Improvisation, Dynamics). By using the pandemic for positive creative purposes – through the arts, creativity and expression – we can heal.”  Matthew Peacock


“‘In The Snow’ is an original track by TURTLE PARK, written in January.  The song is about the uncertain ways of living that the Coronavirus put us through as a band and is ultimately a vow to not leave each other’s side through the harsh winter in Pittsburgh.”  Adam Peters, TURTLE PARK


FRI 19 MAR // 5pm


Alice Brookes Maudlin – Foolish Sentiment
Northern Quarters :
Tom Smith, Laura Conway cornet
Emma Conway tenor horn
Amy Ewen baritone horn

“As a quartet, we aim to branch out from standard brass chamber repertoire, providing opportunities for underrepresented composers’ music to be heard.  We commissioned RNCM composer Alice Brookes to write this piece for us.”  Northern Quarters

Francesca Caccini: The first woman to write an opera
A short lecture-recital by Elspeth Piggott, to include:

Francesca Caccini Dov’io credea la mie speranze vera from Il Primo Libro delle Musiche
Elspeth Piggott soprano
Philip Turner theorbo

“Francesca Caccini was a musician of the Medici court in Florence in the early seventeenth century and was the first woman to write an opera. In this short lecture-recital, we explore one of her solo songs, and see how this extraordinary woman made her mark on the period.”  Elspeth Piggott

Two scenes from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, arranged by Emily Noon
Robin Morton Pamino
Hebe Hamilton Tamina
Emily Noon Papagena/Harpy/Chorus
Georgie Malcom Sarastra
Natasha Elliot Monostatits
Lorna Day Harpy/Chorus
George Butler The King of the Night
James Oscar Robinson First Gentleman
Ross Cumming Second Gentleman
Conrad Chatterton Third Gentleman

“I have inverted the Magic Flute, swapping the men’s and women’s roles, and removed the racism and the sexism. My goal was to reflect our contemporary values and allow artists to explore and play new characters.”  Emily Noon

Henry Thacker Burleigh Southland Sketches
Helena Logah violin
Mackenzie Paget piano

Henry Thacker Burleigh (1866-1949) was one of the earliest successful Black classical composers and is credited with introducing Black music to classically trained musicians, including Antonín Dvořák. ‘Southland Sketches’ for violin and piano is full of his folk-like, American style, and beautiful melodic writing.

Józef Koffler String Trio Op 10, Andante, molto cantabile
Jessica Holding violin
Julia Sandros-Alper viola
Sinéad O’Halloran cello 

Erwin Schulhoff Concertino for Flute, Viola and Double Bass, Andante
Sarah Canzonetta flute
Ilana Tapper viola
Maria Delmar double bass 

Ilse Weber Wiegala
Tessa Tang soprano
Philip O’Connor tenor
Fangwei Zhao piano 

A three-part series of music and poetry highlighting works by composers who met their end in the Holocaust.”  Julia Sandros-Alper

FRI 19 MAR // 8pm

by Amy Webber with Zach Okonkwo

Amy Webber (also known as Eimie) is a singer-songwriter who combines her operatic and popular music training to create spellbinding songs.

Amy studied Vocal and Opera Studies at the RNCM graduating with a 1st Class Honours Degree. Seven years on, she returned as a Masters student on the Popular Music course in 2019.

Eimie started releasing and performing music as Eimie during the first lockdown in 2020. Even though Eimie has had little chance to preform her music live (due to the COVID restrictions) she has been able to cultivate a following through her energetic live streams on Facebook and live videos which showcase her skill as a musical storyteller.

For this set especially for the RNCM PLAY Festival, Eimie is joined by drummer Zach Okonkwo.

SAT 20 MAR // 1pm


Leonard Bernstein Overture to Candide
Olivia Dance piano and animation

This project is an experiment which combines a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture with an original animation based on the operetta.”  Olivia Dance 

Tywi Roberts Kairos and Chronos
Nexus Duo:
Andrew Birse violin
Chloe Randall cello

“This is the premiere of three movements from an extended work for string duo and electronics, featuring novel use of technology and improvisation in dialogue with one other. Arranged remotely and collaboratively during lockdown; composed around the voice of futurist thinker Jordan Hall.”  Tywi Roberts 

Traditional Irish arr Dolce Flutes May Morning Dew
Dolce Flutes:
Grace Callaghan, Emily Revill, Cara Houghton, Hannah Clark

“Initially we started this project with St Patrick’s Day in mind and saw it as an opportunity to play some folk music. It ended up morphing into a free improvisation, where we each uploaded recordings of ourselves playing and then we responded to each other, using technology to add extra effects.”  Dolce Flutes

Jinjun Lee Sea Stars
Anderson Euphonium Quintet:
Riley Anderson, Daniel Chan, Jeff Chan, Erica Goh, Noa Kurumi Nishizawa

Written by Singaporean composer and RNCM alumnus Jinjun Lee, ‘Sea Stars’ is inspired by a trek on the Sister’s Island Marine Park in Singapore.”  Anderson Euphonium Quintet

Oguz Buyukberber Sketchbook for contrabass clarinet and video
Jason Alder contrabass clarinet

For this project, I worked with composer/clarinettist/improviser/visual artist Oguz Buyukberber to create a multimedia piece which combines a live contrabass clarinet performing a graphic/text-based score in the manner of a structured improvisation.

Supported by the Dutch Embassy in the UK, to bring together artists in the UK and Netherlands in the time of COVID.” Jason Alder


SAT 20 MAR // 8pm


UNHEARD is the RNCM’s New Music Society (formerly the Contemporary Music Society), and we are proud to present this latest project, the UnHeard Hybrid Online – a follow up to 2020’s UnHeard Hybrid Orchestra RNCM Lab Week event.

This concert represents the culmination of almost three months of collaboration between a core of composers, singers, players, sonic and visual artists.

The process began with the composers sending sketches, prompts and other musical materials to the performers, which provided the basis for a recording. These recordings were then further manipulated by our sonic and visual artists, making use of non-real-time algorithms and techniques.

UNHEARD warmly welcomes the following collaborators from beyond the college to this project:

Dr Manoli Moriaty (University of Liverpool)
Rose Bartels (BA Hons Designer, Goldsmiths University of London)
Besingende Gedallánd
Alumni of the RNCM

Please note: Headphones or high quality speakers at a healthy volume are highly recommended for maximum enjoyment of this performance.


Tywi John Hywel Roberts Rain Spectacle
Cally Statham fINGER tOUCH
Fraz Ireland lockdown boogie – club remix 2
Deane Smith Light – Dight – Lighk – Ligark – Daght – Darht – Larhk – Dark
Besingende Gedallánd Sæstréam
Emilio Yáñez Ruíz How’s the Weather?
Nate Chivers Reticence (Unfurled)
Tywi John Hywel Roberts UnThing