Contemporary Music Festival 2019

Lampedusa visuals by Kaz Rahman

With the theme of multiverse, this year's festival will showcase musical interpretations of the quantum world

The Contemporary Music Festival is organised in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) at the University of Plymouth.

Now in its 14th year, this annual celebration of contemporary music has developed a national reputation for combining artistic creativity with scientific development, opening up new research opportunities and musical avenues that would not normally have been explored.

Formerly known as the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, the event is directed by Eduardo Reck Miranda, Professor in Computer Music at the University of Plymouth and Director of ICCMR.

Acting as a showcase for composers at the University, those previously involved include Alexis Kirke, Duncan Williams, David Bessell, David Strang, Mike McInerney, and John Matthias.

Watch Professor Eduardo Miranda discuss the multiverse theme of this year's edition and describe the exciting programme of the event, including the opera 'Lampedusa'.

MULTIVERSE: Friday 22 – Sunday 24 February 2019

The theme of the 2019 festival, MULTIVERSE proposes a weekend of musical interpretations of the quantum world. It will premiere a duet between a pianist and an Artificial Intelligence improviser, and a piece composed with a quantum computer.

The BBC Singers will perform new compositions by ICCMR composers, including 'Lampedusa', a short opera inspired by Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest' with musical renditions of particle collision data and a libretto in an otherworldly language invented by David J. Peterson. David is the author of the Dothraki language spoken in the TV series 'Game of Thrones'.

Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR)

ICCMR’s mission is to gain a better understanding of human biology and cognition from a musical perspective, and use this understanding to improve people’s lives. 

We are developing neuro-technology to control musical systems using brain signals, harnessing living organisms to build novel bio-electronic devices, building interactive intelligent systems for musical creativity and investigating how new types of computers may impact on the future of the music industry.

Friday 22 February

Festival launch and talk – Designing languages for would-be worlds 

Join David J. Peterson, one of the world’s most famous language creators, for the launch of the Contemporary Music Festival 2019.

Not only did he invent the Dothraki language for 'Game of Thrones' and the language used in Walt Disney film 'Thor: The Dark World', he has also invented the language Vōv for Eduardo Miranda's opera 'Lampedusa', which will be premiered at the Contemporary Music Festival Gala Concert. 

“It’s a really fun and bizarre piece and I think you’ll like it. What we are seeing is a language which is outside of time. And what you will see in the opera is a human who is able to learn the language and use it. It raises an interesting question of what might have happened if humanity gone in a different direction using this language as its base.”

– David J. Peterson

Date: Friday 22 February 2019
Time: 19:00–20:30
Venue: Jill Craigie Cinema
Free admission, booking required

Saturday 23 February

<p>BBC Singers</p>

Festival Gala Concert: BBC Singers

The world-class BBC Singers will perform new compositions by ICCMR composers, including 'Lampedusa', a short opera inspired by Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest' with musical renditions of particle collision data and a libretto in an otherworldly language invented by David J. Peterson.

Date: Saturday 23 February
Time: 20:00–22.00
Venue: The House
Tickets: £12/£10/Friends Free/SPiA, booking required

Lampedusa: Behind the curtain

Eduardo’s opera 'Lampedusa' is set in a parallel Shakespearean universe. The plot takes place before the arrival of Prospero and Miranda in Lampedusa, allegedly the island portrayed in Shakespeare’s play 'The Tempest'. The opera tells the story of Sycorax, a refugee from Europe, her son, Caliban, and Ariel. Ariel is an invisible native inhabitant who objects to Caliban’s ambitions of reigning over the island. 

Watch this group discussion with key 'Lampedusa' cast and crew members, including director Victor Ladron de Guevara, choreographer Josh Slater, and performer and dance theatre undergraduate student Hayley Bentley.

“The approach has really evolved thanks to the collaboration of wonderful individuals. A fascinating musical approach by Eduardo Miranda. A score delivered in a language created for the opera. A costume maker offering a very, very distinctive approach. Arts design using projections. Josh Slater's very distinctive choreographic flavour. My job was to put all those elements together.”
– Victor Ladron de Guevara, Director of 'Lampedusa'

Take a look at the making of 'Lampedusa', the costumes and the cast that will be involved: Lampedusa: Behind the curtain 


Costume designer Hedy Hurban and visuals designer Kaz Rahman discuss their work for the upcoming performance of 'Lampedusa', an opera to be performed at the Contemporary Music Festival 2019.<br></p>

Sunday 24 February

<p>Observables Short Films</p>

Observables – Short Films

'Observables' presents a collection of short films curated by Alexis Kirke on the themes of quantum multiverse.

The programme includes metaphors for quantum effects, how observers affect the observed and paths we could have taken but did not, and includes 'The End?', a new film by Alexis, in which observers inadvertently become part of an observed film.

Date: Sunday 24 February
Venue: Jill Craigie Cinema
Free admission, booking required

Listen to 'Cloud Chamber', Alexis' subatomic particle duet (2013).

Pre-concert talk: Decoding reality – The Universe as Quantum Information

Join University of Oxford physicist, Vlatko Vedral, who will introduce the mesmerising world of Quantum Physics before the ICCMR's Research Concert.

Date: Sunday 24 February
Time: 13:00–14:00
Venue: The House
Free admission, booking advised

<p>Vlatko Vedral&nbsp;</p>

Research Concert

The Research Concert will showcase research, new ideas and technologies developed by our ICCMR composers. Alexis Kirke plans to link the brain of two performers to a quantum computer in a piece called 'Entangled Brain', whilst Nuria Bonet's new composition, 'Queen Canute', will explore the intriguing world of seabird communication. 

Date: Sunday 24 February
Time: 14:30–16:00
Venue: The House
Free admission, booking advised

The sounds of Queen Canute

“Queen Canute is a piece for seagulls and clarinet. I cannot bring a live seagull into a concert hall, so I recorded many different sounds of seagulls around Plymouth and cut these together in three movements to accompany the clarinet. King Canute tried to control the waves and control nature. So I see myself as Queen Canute because I tried to control the seagulls and it just wasn’t happening. It’s a way of giving back all the sounds I heard in Plymouth while being a student here.”

– Nuria Bonet

Watch Nuria, a composer and PhD researcher at the University, discuss her upcoming performance of her research piece at the Contemporary Music Festival 2019. Listen to Queen Canute

Word is...

  • A "Anyone complaining that classical music is boring clearly needs to take a trip to Plymouth." Sinfini Music
  • . "It's all highly experimental, but the work being done does have practical, real-world consequences." The Creators Project, Vice Media
  • A "The festival teems with compositional creativity." New Statesman
  • . "One of the UK’s most innovative festivals of contemporary music." The Sampler
  • A "Firmly establishing itself as an important platform in the UK for new music." Seen and Heard International
  • . "In every sense, a memorable weekend." The Telegraph


The composers involved in the Contemporary Music Festival 2019 include:

  • Eduardo R. Miranda, head of ICCMR and festival director 
  • Alexis Kirke, member of the University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research and is composer-in-residence for the University’s Marine Institute, award-winning composer and filmmaker
  • Núria Bonet, PhD student at ICCMR and composer of electroacoustic and instrumental music
  • Archer Endrich, composer
  • Richard Abbott, music publisher and composer
  • Linas Baltas, composer and Visiting Research Fellow at ICCMR – view 'Dining' performed at last year's festival.

Festival Director

Eduardo R. Miranda

Eduardo R Miranda is Professor in Computer Music at the University of Plymouth and director of the celebrated Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research.

A classically trained composer and Artificial Intelligence scientist with an early involvement in electroacoustic and avant-garde pop music, Miranda’s distinctive work is informed by his unique background.

In addition to concert music, he has composed for theatre and contemporary dance. His latest album CD with two computer-aided symphonic works has just been released in Japan by Da Vinci Classics and is also available on Spotify. Both symphonies were recorded in Plymouth.