MP 2014: Second Keynote Speaker: Dr Nicholas McKay

We can now announce our second keynote speaker: Dr Nicholas McKay. We’re extremely pleased to be able to welcome Dr McKay to the conference in May, especially as his work in the field of music analysis reveals aspects of process in unexpected places.

Dr McKay’s talk will be entitled:

Introversive and Extroversive processes: rethinking Stravinsky’s music as dialogue between formalist and expressive paradigms

Nicholas McKay completed his PhD on the semiotics of musical meaning in Igor Stravinsky’s music at Durham University in 1998.  He was awarded a one-year Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2005-06) to work on the semiotics of quotation, allusion and topical reference in Stravinsky’s music and regularly presents papers at international music and semiotics conferences around the world.  He writes primarily on music semiotics, Stravinsky, analysis, opera and music theatre. His work explores the dialogical interface between introversive and extroversive semiotic processes in musical discourse.  He is Assistant Editor of the Journal of Music and Meaning and serves as an elected member of council of the Royal Musical Association.

In September 2013, Nicholas took up the role of Head of Music and Performing Arts at Canterbury Christ Church University.  Previously, he was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex, where he worked (1998-2013) as Head of Music (2000-2006 & 2010-2013) and Director [Sub-Dean] in the School of Humanities and University Champion for Creative Arts (2006-2010). Nicholas directed the annual Opera at Glyndebourne Summer School (2009-2013) and has been a regular pre-performance speaker on countless operas at Glyndebourne since 2000.  He has supervised numerous PhD students on topics including Stravinsky, Scriabin, analysis, musical gesture and conducting.

Recent Publications Include:

  • McKay, N, ‘Stravinsky’s Sideward Glance: Neoclassicism, Dialogised Structures and the Reflected Discourse of Bach’, The Journal of Music and Meaning, (2013)
  • —, ‘Dysphoric States: Stravinsky’s Topics – Huntsmen, Soldiers and Shepherds’ in Music Semiotics: a Network of Significations – in Honour of Raymond Monelle, ed. Esti Sheinberg (Farnham, Ashgate, 2012), 249-261
  • —, ‘Ethnic Cleansing, Anxious Influence and Secret Codes: a Semiotician’s Guide to Stravinsky’s Musicological Afterlife and its Archaeological Contra-Factum,’ in Before and After Music, Acta Semiotica Fennica XXXVII, ed. Lina Navickaite-Martinelli (Umweb Publications: Helsinki, 2010), 565-574
  • —‘On Topics Today’ Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie 4, 1 (2007), 159-183
  • —‘One for All and All for One’: Voicing in Stravinsky’s Music Theatre. The Journal of Music and Meaning 5 (2007)
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MP 2014: First Keynote Speaker: Tom Johnson

The first keynote speaker of the Music and/as Process Conference will be US Composer Tom Johnson.

Tom Johnson is well known for his catalogue pieces; perhaps some of the greatest examples of musical processes. We are looking forward to welcoming him to speak at the conference, and to presenting a concert of his music alongside the music of other, related composers (more details about this soon).

Countless ways of Counting

Tom Johnson writes: “Everyone remembers how the chorus counts in Einstein on the Beach, and some people remember how Charlie Morrow and I began doing solo counting pieces around the same time. But “Counting Music” has been a major theme for me, developed in countless (almost) ways over the years. I’ll talk particularly about the new Counting to Seven for seven speaking voices, to be premiered by the ensemble Dedalus in October.”

Tom Johnson, born in Colorado in 1939, received B.A. and M.Mus. degrees from Yale University, and studied composition privately with Morton Feldman. After 15 years in New York, he moved to Paris, where he has lived since 1983. He is considered a minimalist, since he works with simple forms, limited scales, and generally reduced materials, but he proceeds in a more logical way than most minimalists, often using formulas, permutations, and predictable sequences.

Johnson is well known for his operas: The Four Note Opera (1972) continues to be presented in many countries. Riemannoper has been staged more than 20 times in German-speaking countries since its premier in Bremen in 1988. Often played non-operatic works include Bedtime Stories, Rational Melodies, Music and Questions, Counting Duets, Tango, Narayana’s Cows, and Failing: a very difficult piece for solo string bass.

His largest composition, the Bonhoeffer Oratorium, a two-hour work in German for orchestra, chorus, and soloists, with text by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was premiered in Maastricht in 1996, and has since been presented in Berlin and New York.

Johnson has also written numerous radio pieces, such as J’entends un choeur (commissioned by Radio France for the Prix Italia, 1993), Music and Questions (also available on an Australian Broadcasting Company CD) and Die Melodiemaschinen, premiered by WDR Radio in Cologne in January 1996. The most recent radio piece is A Time to Listen, premiered by the Irish national radio in 2004.

The principal recordings currently available on CD are the Musique pour 88 (1988) (XI), An Hour for Piano (1971) (Lovely Music), The Chord Catalogue (1986) (XI), Organ and Silence (2000) (Ants), and Kientzy Plays Johnson (2004) (Pogus).

The Voice of New Music, a collection of articles written 1971-1982 for the Village Voice, published by Apollohuis in 1989, is now in the public domain and can be downloaded at www.tom.johnson.org. Self-Similar Melodies, a theoretical book in English, was published by Editions 75 in 1996.

Recent projects include Tilework, a series of 14 pieces for solo instruments, published by Editions 75 in 2003, Same or Different, a piece commissioned by the Dutch radio in 2004, and the Combinations for String Quartet, premiered in Berlin on the MärzMusik festival in 2004. As performer he frequently plays his Galileo, a 45-minute piece written for a self-invented percussion instrument.

Johnson received the French national prize in the victoires de la musique in 2001 for Kientzy Loops.