2021 Keynote Speakers

Jonty Harrison


We live in a world in which fashions and fads – and their associated vocabularies – come and go with increasing rapidity. The arts and arts practice are not immune to this trend, and the world of academia always seems willing and able to come up with a raft of new terminology for arts practices of which the practitioners themselves are barely aware.

And despite the fact that humanity has been more or less under house arrest for most of the past twelve months, this tendency appears to have continued – fully aware of my age and shape, I never imagined that I would ever be doing any ‘Zooming’, and the number of times I have heard the word ‘unprecedented’ in the past year has been… well, unprecedented!

But one word that already enjoyed popular currency pre-Covid, and which is the theme of this conference, is ‘collaboration’. Like many composers and other arts practitioners, I have been involved in collaborations of various kinds over the years. Yet my core practice – acousmatic composition – is based entirely on sitting alone in a studio. In what way could that ever be considered ‘collaborative’?


Jonty Harrison (born 1952) studied at the University of York between 1970 and 1976. He then moved to London, where he worked at the National Theatre and City University, before joining the Music Department of the University of Birmingham in 1980. There, he was Director of the Electroacoustic Music Studios and of BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre), which he founded in 1982. He rose to become Professor of Composition and Electroacoustic Music and, on his retirement in 2014, was granted the title of Emeritus Professor. He held a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship in 2014-15 and is Compositeur Associé with Maison des Arts Sonores/KLANG! Acousmonium, Montpellier, France.

He has been commissioned by leading organisations and performers (INA-GRM, Bourges, ICMA, MAFILM/Magyar Rádió, Arts Council England, Electroacoustic Wales/Bangor University, Maison des Arts Sonores/KLANG! Acousmonium, BBC) and won several prizes (Bourges, Ars Electronica, Musica Nova, Destellos, Lloyds Bank, PRS Prize). His music appears on four solo albums (empreintes DIGITALes, Montreal) and on several compilations (NMC, Mnémosyne Musique Média, CDCM/Centaur, Asphodel, Clarinet Classics, FMR, Edition RZ and EMF).


Sohrab Uduman

Abstract – Perspective Shifts

Writings on compositional practices, theoretical, practical and pragmatic, separate out working with ‘traditional’ instrumental and vocal (acoustic) forces from electronic, computer-based, (electroacoustic) resources. This talk, based around recent pieces, is by way of a personal reflection on finding ways of fusing the technical approaches associated with instrumental writing with the rich, comparatively heuristic, ‘hands-on’ outlook associated with Musique Concrète.


Uduman studied clarinet at Surrey University and composition with Vic Hoyland and Jonty Harrison, at Birmingham University, where he received a PhD in 1993. Awards include an international prize at the Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music, The Bourges International Competition for Electro-acoustic Music, the George Butterworth Award, the Oskar Back Foundation Prize for Young European Composers and the Prix Annelie de Man. His music has featured at many festivals, including the Oxford Festival of Contemporary Music, The Spitalfields Festival, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Cheltenham International Festival of Music, Darmstadt, Britten Festival Brugges and Agora Festival at IRCAM, Paris.