Research output

Check back here for selected reports on research projects.

The inner life of the cello

Michael Finnissy’s Chi Mei Ricercari
Neil Heyde, cellos, and Zubin Kanga, piano
Seven cellos from the Royal Academy of Music’s collection

Settala's Machine

In 2012 the New London Chamber Ensemble (NLCE) commissioned Philip Cashian to write a 12 minute side-by-side wind dectet to be performed by professional and student musicians working alongside each other.

The work, entitled Settala’s Machine, is based on a 17th century automaton; grotesque and devil-like, it has a hideous face with a protruding tongue. The textural variety and extreme contrasts in dynamic and tessitura provide a wealth of challenges for the ensemble.

Premiered in 2012 at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Settala’s Machine has since been performed in numerous educational contexts, including Cambridge University, the Royal College of Music (Junior Department), Trinity Laban, the Purcell School, the Royal Academy of Music (Junior and Senior departments – the latter at the Cheltenham Festival).

In 2018, the NLCE recorded the dectet in the Royal Academy of Music’s Angela Burgess Recital Hall, with Moriarty Winds, recent graduates, and Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellows at the Academy. With support from the Royal Academy of Music’s Research Department, Melanie Ragge commissioned film-maker David Lefeber to make a short film of the recording project, exploring the educational value of side-by-side projects in preparing young musicians for the profession (see below). An audio recording of the piece can be found here.