Lampedusa image by Kaz Rahman

Lampedusa image by Kaz Rahman

A Shakespearean prequel opera with a Game of Thrones twist will be among the highlights of the Contemporary Music Festival 2019 at the University of Plymouth.

Quantum physics, seagull song and a gala concert featuring the acclaimed BBC Singers will also be part of the 14th annual event, which once again promises an exploration of the boundary between science and creativity. 

Running over the weekend of Friday 22 to Sunday 24 February, the festival is organised by the University’s Arts Institute in partnership with its Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR).

With a theme of Multiverse, the 2019 edition is aimed at helping us understand how the mysteries of quantum science relate to daily reality, through musical interpretations of the quantum world.

Headlining the Saturday night gala concert is the premiere of Lampedusa, a new opera by ICCMR Director Professor Eduardo Reck Miranda in Vōv, a language created by David J Peterson. One of the world’s foremost language inventors, Peterson is responsible for the Game of Thrones warrior tongue Dothraki and many others, and will open the festival with a talk entitled ‘On Designing Languages for Would-be Worlds’.

David Peterson - The Evolution of Vōv | Contemporary Music Festival 2019

Lampedusa imagines the island of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a time immediately before the play’s story begins. An inversion and subversion of the current refugee crisis narrative, the work depicts Sycorax as a Sephardic Jew fleeing persecution by the Spanish Inquisition – first from Europe to Algeria, then from North Africa to Venice. Pregnant, Sycorax’ ship is wrecked in a storm and she awakens on the mysterious, musical island of Lampedusa, where she gives birth to Caliban and encounters Ariel. Intrigue, adventure and conflict ensue, before the opera ends as Prospero and his daughter Miranda arrive on the island.

Lampedusa includes material composed with software developed at the ICCMR, which renders particle collision data from the Large Hadron Collider into sound. The gala concert will be recorded live for BBC Radio 3.

In Conversation With Professor Eduardo Miranda | Contemporary Music Festival 2019  

Other works being showcased at the festival, and composed by ICCMR researchers, include:

  • Dr Alexis Kirke’s Entangled Brains, in which the brains of two performers will be linked to a quantum computer via electroencephalogram (EEG) headsets
  • Illusions by Linas Baltas, exploring the suggestion that sounds and music are fabrications of our mind
  • Queen Canute by Nuria Bonet, a duet for clarinet and seagull song drawing attention to the beauty of the sound, and the birds themselves

Professor Miranda said:

“Our intuition about how the world works breaks down when we try to understand it on the very tiny scale of the atom. The more we learn about the quantum world the bigger the questions that are uncovered: are there parallel universes; and what is the relationship between perception and reality?

“Humankind struggles to understand how quantum physics relates to our daily reality. With our compositions we are trying to look at science from a different perspective, by bringing this relatively new field of knowledge into our creative process. But also, we hope that our music will offer an artistic framework through which to consider these big questions.”

For more information visit Contemporary Music Festival 2019.

With the exception of the gala concert, all events are free but booking is required.

Contemporary Music Festival Lampedusa

Contemporary Music Festival 2019: MULTIVERSE

MULTIVERSE is the theme of University of Plymouth Contemporary Music Festival (CMF) 2019, which celebrates the internationally renowned research combining music, engineering and the life sciences developed at the University of Plymouth’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR).

MULTIVERSE proposes a weekend of musical interpretations of the quantum world. 

Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR)

Cutting-edge research in topics including the interface between music, computers, and the brain within a vibrant contemporary music community.

Access our well-equipped studios, open plan lab and annual research seminar series.

Find out more about the centre and what we do

Research in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business

World-leading research across, between and with arts and humanities disciplines

Where arts and humanities research meets cultural ecologies and economies in south-west England.

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Slow Painting installation