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Experience Oxfordshire the county’s destination management organisation and official Local Visitor Economy Partnership* was delighted to welcome Tourism Minister, Julia Lopez MP, to Oxfordshire during English Tourism Week to visit two outstanding examples of the investment behind the county’s success as a visitor destination.

Starting at the Schwarzman Centre, the Minister was given a hardhat tour of the site of Oxford’s new “home for the humanities”. Planned for completion in 2025, the centre will be home for the University’s humanities faculties, the Oxford Internet Institute and the Institute for Ethics and AI and a new humanities library along with state-of-the-art academic, exhibition and performance spaces.

Professor Dan Grimley, Head of Humanities at the University of Oxford said: “This project has been made possible by gifts totalling £185 million from philanthropist and businessman Stephen A. Schwarzman and demonstrates the humanities’ essential role in helping society address the fundamental questions of the 21st century. It will be a hive of cutting-edge teaching, innovation and co-creation, animated by a rich programme of performance and events inspired by Oxford research. We look forward to working with Experience Oxfordshire in the coming months and welcoming new and varied audiences to the centre in 2025.”

In the afternoon the Minister spent time at the iconic Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel where with Chef Patron, Raymond Blanc OBE and his team discussed issues affecting the hospitality sector with the Minister and described the innovative responses Le Manoir has implemented.  The hotel has long been a champion of sustainability in the restaurant sector and renowned for its work encouraging young people to consider work and careers in hospitality.

Raymond Blanc OBE said: “It was a pleasure to meet with the Minister here at Le Manoir to hear of her support for our sector and to share with her our experiences of operating in a highly competitive international marketplace.

“Here in Oxfordshire we are fortunate in welcoming visitors from across the globe and commend Experience Oxfordshire for their work in promoting the county and its venues here at home and internationally.”

Following her visit Tourism Minister Julia Lopez MP said: “English Tourism Week is all about celebrating the hard work that goes into showcasing our fantastic country to the millions of visitors who come here every year.

“From the fascinating history of the University of Oxford, to the first-class dining and hospitality at places like Le Manoir, it is no surprise that Oxfordshire is one of England’s top tourist locations. It’s been brilliant to visit the county and meet some of the incredible people who make our tourism industry so valuable to visitors, communities and the local economy. 

“We’re committed to helping the sector be the best it’s ever been and, with government support like business rates relief and the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, I am confident we’ll retain our status as one of the best visitor destinations in the world.”

Accompanying the Minister on her visit was Patricia Yates, CEO of VisitBritain/VisitEngland. Commenting on Oxfordshire’s potential as a visitor destination she said: “I am delighted to be back in Oxfordshire during English Tourism Week. The county is one of the reasons England shines so brightly on the global stage with its warm welcome, glorious countryside, iconic university buildings, picturesque villages and historic castles and it is familiar to many as the backdrop for film and TV shows including Napoleon, Downton Abbey, Midsomer Murders and the Mummy Returns.

“As the national tourism agency, responsible for developing England’s visitor economy and promoting Britain globally, we collaborate closely with Experience Oxfordshire and congratulate them on their work in telling Oxfordshire’s story so effectively.”

Although Oxfordshire’s visitor economy contributes an impressive £2.17billion to the local economy and employs 37 thousand people, figures are still 17% down in real terms on 2019.  With VisitBritain predicting a steady return to pre-pandemic visitor figures, businesses working in the sector are keen to benefit from this.

Hayley Beer-Gamage expressed her pleasure at showcasing Oxfordshire to the Minister saying: “We were delighted to share our pride in our destination with Minister Lopez. These have been, and continue to be, uncertain times for operating within our sector so it was a pleasure to take her to the Schwarzman Centre to hear from an institution looking with confidence to the future and to the well-established Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, A Belmond Hotel to meet Raymond Blanc OBE and his team who continue to contribute so much to Oxfordshire’s strong, positive reputation as a visitor destination.”

Inviting six early career UK-based digital artists and creators to participate in an innovative, collaborative artist development programme

What is it? 
Immersive Assembly Vol 4: ‘Dreams & Echoes’ is the fourth annual talent development programme from Mediale. It is a multi-disciplinary residency focusing on learning, peer critique and developing new ideas and collaborations in and around immersive art and technology. 

The residency will take place between May – November 2024 and will support six UK-based artists/studios to collaborate and develop proposals for immersive experiences. The cohort will be supported to develop projects which invite us to explore the potential of immersive media in interrogating consciousness and enabling new interpretations of ‘reality’. 

IA4 is supported by the Cultural Programme at The Schwarzman Centre, University of Oxford, the Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub at Jesus College Oxford, and Mediale’s talent development focus supported by Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation funding.

For more information on the previous three Volumes – participants, contributors, and project proposals/prototypes – please look here. 

How does it work?

Immersive Assembly Vol 4 will bring together a cohort of artists, technologists and cultural practitioners to learn, share, network and play. It will run in a hybrid format, beginning and ending with in-person activity, punctuated by a series of online talks, sessions and workshops. 

The residency will culminate with an in-person showcase of three new immersive project prototypes, developed by the cohort who will collaborate in pairs, alongside a dedicated University of Oxford academic research partner. The showcase will be an opportunity to present the project to both public and sector audiences. 

This project should be the result of collaboration and learning throughout the Immersive Assembly residency, rather than the development of an existing prototype.

The artists should allocate approximately 20 days for creative development – consisting of eight compulsory in-person days, six compulsory online sessions (totalling three days), and nine self-led creative development and production days. Participation in the programme runs from April to November 2024. 

The current schedule is: 

April: Onboarding

May: Collaboration Kick-off (Dates TBC)
Two days of in-person communal and creative activity 

August: Break
Time for reflection and meeting with cohort collaborator 

Late August: Creative Development Day  (date TBC)
A one day in-person workshop, focused on collaboration and ideation

November: Showcase (proposed 15-19th November)
Cohort places confirmed and 1-1s with the Mediale team
Approx four days in-person open studios showcase for public 
A one day Immersive Salon presentation for sector 

The artist fee is £4,000, to support your time. Accommodation, travel and per diem expenses for in-person sessions will be covered by the programme outside of this fee.

DOWNLOAD THE OPEN CALL PACK HERE

Theme

Immersive Assembly Vol 4: Dreams & Echoes, will explore the potential of immersive media in interrogating consciousness and enabling new interpretations of ‘reality’. 

In the context of new technologies, as our understanding of consciousness evolves beyond human thinking, IA4 will provide participants with the opportunity to explore neuroscience, mental health, access and medical science research expertise, as well as cutting edge AI and ethics research, and globally leading immersive art.

Whether inching towards philosophical questions around the existence of free will, or more directly exploring the potential of XR technologies in terms of embodiment, empathy and widened perception, we would like to support artists creating projects that are seeking to ask questions, pose challenges, and look at some of the ‘elephants in the room’. 

Drawing on the world-leading research of academics at the University of Oxford, we invite artists to consider the role that immersive experiences can play in the exploration of what consciousness means now, and what it could mean in the future. As described above, this could be through exploring the mind and mental health, non-human intelligence, sleep and the subconscious, or echo chambers and bias. 

This summary is a guideline; we encourage artists to follow their own interests and inspirations, referencing the context of this theme. 

Selection criteria 

Key selection criteria will be: 

Please note that this programme cannot support artists who are in formal full-time education, international artists and those working outside the UK.

We will select a cohort who have a broad selection of skills and experiences to enable experimentation and learning to be as broad as possible. If you are a visual artist, animator, performance artist, creative coder, games designer, or digital practitioner – this opportunity is for you! 

We would especially welcome applicants who identify as being from an under-represented group in the creative industries. This includes, but is not limited to, Black, Asian and ethnically diverse candidates, people with disabilities, neuro-divergent people, individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and members of the LGBTQIA+

With a programme including two never-before-heard arrangements by pianist-composer Tom Poster, the second of Kaleidoscope’s three performances in the 2023-24 season includes the new arrangements, taking its inspiration from the salons of Paris, the music of Reynaldo Hahn and the writings of Marcel Proust.

Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective has had a very successful few years, having released a series of acclaimed albums on Chandos Records, been appointed Associate Ensemble at Wigmore Hall, and debuted at the BBC Proms last summer.

Ahead of the concert, we sat down with pianist Tom Poster and tenor Karim Sulayman to learn more about In Search of Lost Love.  Tom co-founded Kaleidoscope in 2017, and he performs at concert halls and festivals all over the world, as well as regularly featuring on BBC Radio 3. Karim won the 2019 Best Classical Solo Vocal GRAMMY® Award and regularly performs on the world’s stages in opera, orchestral concerts, recital and chamber music.

Left: Tom Poster (Pianist). Right: Karim Sulayman (Tenor)

Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective will be returning to the Sheldonian Theatre for their concert In Search of Lost Love later this month. Where did the idea for the concert come from?  

Tom: The initial inspiration came from a shared love for the exquisite music of Reynaldo Hahn, whose songs I was largely introduced to by Karim. Karim and I have performed the songs in their original voice and piano versions, and as a result I was inspired to expand them into brand-new chamber versions for voice, strings and piano. I think Karim has this wonderfully direct channel to Hahn’s music that I find incredibly touching. 

I’ve also always been drawn to the salons of Paris around the turn of the 19th and 20th century. It seemed like a lovely thing to explore the world of the salons, the relationship between Proust and Hahn, and then to bring in some of the other composers who were writing around the time. It’s a very intoxicating world to be part of. 

Karim, how were you first exposed to the music of Reynaldo Hahn? 

Karim: When I was in school, I was always very drawn to French mélodie [the French equivalent of art song or Lieder]. I remember coming across a recording of Hahn playing and singing his own songs and, if you listened to it critically as a singer, you’d think that’s not the greatest voice you’ve ever heard, but there’s something so intimate and deeply touching when listening to him doing his own music. I think his music really pulls at the heart. Tom used the word intoxicating and that was exactly how I felt. I was completely intoxicated by listening to him playing and singing his own songs, so I started learning a bunch of them and they’ve stuck with me all these years. They’re deep and the expression of love in all of them is palpable, which I respond to, and I imagine audiences do as well. 

The concert will feature the music of Reynaldo Hahn. What else can audiences expect from the programme? 

Tom: It’s an evening which combines chamber music, song, and spoken word. The words are taken from the writings of both Marcel Proust and Reynaldo Hahn. Proust’s words come both from his published writings and from his beautiful letters to Hahn, Fauré and others. The texts by Hahn are drawn from some of his more general writings and lectures on music, but also from his letters to Proust. So, there’s this personal side too, which helps to open up the music even more.

We’ve performed a set of four Hahn songs in lots of places, but at the Oxford concert there will be two more which have never been performed or heard before in this chamber version: Le Rossignol des lilas and Chanson D’Automne. And Hahn’s Piano Quintet, which is the biggest piece in the concert, is simply one of the most beautiful works I know. From around the same time period, we’ve got Gabriel Fauré, and then two composers who deserve to be far better known than they are: Lili Boulanger, whose works are beginning to achieve greater recognition, and Mel Bonis, whose works are sadly still hardly ever played. Both had to struggle with the fact that composing was not seen as an appropriate vocation for a woman at the time. Finally, one of the features of the salons was not only featuring French music of the time, but also looking back to earlier French repertoire, so we have included some Baroque music as well, seen through an early 20th century lens. 

This will be Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective’s second of three concerts in collaboration with Oxford’s Cultural Programme. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with the Cultural Programme and the work that you’ve been doing together?

Tom: The collaboration with the Cultural Programme is an incredibly exciting thing for us. Quite a few musicians on the Kaleidoscope roster have strong links with Oxford, so that’s particularly lovely for us. I spent my teenage years in Oxford as a pupil at the Cherwell School, and was very much involved in the local music scene. I played in the County Youth Orchestra as a cellist and oboist, so Oxford played a huge part in my teenage musical development.

Savitri Grier, one of our wonderful violinists, was an undergraduate at Oxford University, and our violist Rosalind Ventris is now Director of Performance at Oxford. I think a lot of us have connections with Oxford from different parts of our lives, so the idea of working alongside both the University and the wider Oxford community sparked a lot of joy and inspiration. The first concert was amazing because it officially sold out and it just felt like the start of something really exciting. It feels like a very expansive, idealistic project, with all manner of fascinating collaborations to draw on, which for us is everything we could wish for!

Can you tell us more about the audience you hope to attract to this concert series?

Karim: This concert really is for everyone! If you look at the tradition of a salon evening, this music really was for the people in the room. Those were people of all walks of life and with different understandings of music. It was informal, people were smoking, talking and drinking wine. Then there would be a couple of songs and a joke – so we’ll try to crack some jokes too! People would respond to what it means to be in a room in such close proximity, making sounds with other people. The power of sharing sounds that come from inside your body is a very palpable and powerful experience.  

Tom: It’s an ideal event for first time concert-goers as well as seasoned music lovers. There will be some spoken word, some songs, some instrumental music, and nothing is too long!

What do you hope audiences will take away from In Search of Lost Love? 

Tom: I hope they’ll be inspired to go and seek out more of the music of these composers. Hahn especially, but really all the composers. In general, Kaleidoscope feels very passionate about performing music and composers that we feel don’t get the hearing they deserve. It’s not that we don’t want to perform Brahms and Schubert — we adore Brahms and Schubert, and we’ll always want to play them. But there are composers and music that are more in need of our advocacy, that don’t have the best quality recordings or the best quality editions. We hope to really infuse people with a love of music they might have not known before, because it’s honestly some of the most beautiful music on the planet!


By Jennifer Rushworth  

On Thursday 22nd February Kaleidoscope Chamber perform a one-off concert inspired by Marcel Proust and Reynaldo Hahn and the music salons of La Belle Époque. In this article, Jennifer Rushworth introduces us to the shared love of words and music that these great men shared

Proust and Hahn fell in love at the salon of Madeleine Lemaire in May 1894. Lemaire was a painter, hostess, and patron of the arts; her distinguished musical evenings included one of the first performances of Fauré’s La Bonne Chanson (1892–94). Hahn, who had been something of a child prodigy, was the more famous one when he and Proust met. He had illustrious teachers — Massenet and Gounod for composition, Saint-Saëns for piano — and was already much admired for his songs. 

We think that Proust and Hahn were lovers for more or less two years, and we know that they also collaborated artistically during this time. Hahn wrote music to accompany the spoken declamation of Proust’s ‘Portraits de peintres’, four poems on different painters which Proust self-deprecatingly described as some of his worst poetry. Hahn’s music for these poems was included in Proust’s first book, Les Plaisirs et les Jours (1896; Pleasures and Days), along with watercolours by Lemaire. 

Although Proust and Hahn shared a love of music, they did not always love the same music. Hahn did not share the fervent admiration Proust expressed for the music of Beethoven, Wagner, and Debussy. However, the pair did agree in their appreciation of composers such as Schumann and Fauré, and even at one time discussed (though never, sadly, developed) the idea of writing a biography of Chopin together. 

After the initial period of romance, Proust and Hahn continued to have a very close friendship up until Proust’s death on 18 November 1922. In a letter to Proust written one month earlier, Hahn reiterates his affection for the writer, describing Proust as ‘my dearest friend, one of the people whom I have loved most in my life’. When Proust died, Hahn watched over his body until the funeral, and also wrote to break the news to Proust’s friends. Hahn himself outlived Proust by several decades, dying at the age of 72 on 28 January 1947. 

In our readings this evening, we will hear the voices of both Hahn and Proust, drawing on extracts from Hahn’s diaries and on letters between the two from the time of their early relationship up until Proust’s death. While these sources offer tantalising glimpses into the daily intimacy of the couple, other readings engage with perennially complex questions about the self and memory, song and time, death and survival. We will return to the famous ‘madeleine’ episode from the first volume of À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time [1913–1927]) so as to savour once more Proust’s connection between memory and the senses. We will also hear a beautiful passage from Hahn’s 1913–14 lectures on song which offers an extended analogy between glass-making and singing and concludes with a highly Proustian insight about the relationship between the ephemeral and the eternal. Finally, we will explore how Proust’s novel describes the fictional music of the imaginary composer Vinteuil and meditates on art as a form of afterlife for its creator.  

English translations are by Ralph Manheim, Terence Kilmartin, and Joanna Kilmartin (for Proust’s letters); C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D. J. Enright (for the extracts from Proust’s novel); Léopold Simoneau (for Hahn’s lectures on song); Jennifer Rushworth (for Hahn’s diaries). 

In a letter from May 1895, Proust characterized Hahn as a ‘literary musician’, one whose songs prioritized words over music. Conversely, we might describe Proust as a ‘musical writer’ and celebrate the interdisciplinarity that lies at the heart of their lifelong intimacy. 

Oxford is a place of history and academic prominence. It attracts visitors from all over the world with its famous dreaming spires, and connections with iconic fiction and ground-breaking research. This footing on the international stage means that the voices of the residents often get drowned out amidst the bustling footsteps of tourists and students. Many local people feel that “Town” is not a place for them and report feeling like outsiders in their own city.  

One symptom of that you may have noticed if you’ve ever been into Oxford city centre, is the amount of walking tours on offer. There are tours of the Colleges, tours of the University guided by Alumni, Alice in Wonderland tours, Harry Potter tours, Inspector Morse tours, anything a TOURist could want… is there a tour for the people who call this historic city home? What is there in Town for the people who work to keep the city’s retail, tourist and academic economies moving?  

Armed with these questions, and motivated by his own experiences of working and hanging out in the city centre throughout his life, multimedia artist Rawz, has created Forgotten Stories Of Oxford; a new collection of Spoken Word poetry which also forms a unique tour of Oxford city centre. Drawing inspiration from 11 carefully chosen locations, this project portrays stories connected to the lives of people who have walked Oxford’s historic streets, often taking the audience off the well beaten tourist trail, and offering a perspective overlooked in conventional tours. Through this work Rawz encourages individuals to discover an alternative perspective of the city, unveiling a dimension often concealed beneath the refined image Oxford has projected to the world for centuries.  

Forgotten Stories of Oxford is not only for lifelong Oxford residents, it is for anyone intrigued by the prospect of uncovering a different dimension of this world renowned city. By extending this invitation, Rawz aims to rekindle a sense of connection and belonging among Oxford’s diverse population and promote a new view of the city, highlighting that Oxford is more than a University, it is a city with a rich tradition of rebels, change makers, and hardworking people; unsung heroes from all walks of life. 

The project was revealed in September 2023 with a month-long public exhibition at The Old Fire Station in Oxford city centre featuring a collection of objects, images, and videos linked to the narratives. While the exhibition has now drawn to a close, the “Forgotten Stories of Oxford” remain and audience members can embark on this journey at their own pace, stepping into Oxford’s rich history in variety of ways: 

Rawz offers Bespoke In-Person Tours, providing a tailored experience for participants. These tours are available in durations of 1 hour, 1.5 hours, or 2 hours and offer a personalised journey through locations chosen by the participants themselves. During these tours, Rawz performs the connected poetry, shares insights into the stories that inspired the pieces, and engages with questions from the audience. Reach out to Rawz via social media to arrange a tour guided by the poet himself. 

For a self-guided experience, there are several options; visit The Old Fire Station and pick up a free limited edition printed map (while stocks last). “The Hidden Spire” is one of the locations on the tour and provides the perfect starting point for self-guided travellers. For a more flexible exploration, a free PDF map is accessible online, allowing the audience to visit the locations in any order at their own convenience.  

Online platforms such as Google Earth and Story Maps also host the tour, enabling virtual participants to immerse themselves in the hidden narratives of Oxford from anywhere in the world.  

Participants anywhere can also access recordings of Rawz performing the poems online, these can augment physical tours or form a key part of your online experience. Some of the poems are accompanied by beautiful short films recorded in the associated locations, enhancing the power of Rawz’ words with stunning visuals. 

To experience this extraordinary exploration, interested individuals can access all necessary information, including maps and online links, at Forgotten Stories Of Oxford’s official Link Tree:
https://linktr.ee/forgottenstoriesoxford.  

Embrace the opportunity to uncover through these eloquent Spoken Word narratives the heart-warming, inspiring, moving and often overlooked tales that make Oxford the vibrant tapestry of stories and people it truly is.

ABOUT RAWZ 

Rawz is a Multidisciplinary Artist from Oxford. His practice centres around words and music and is rooted in social justice and the exploration and understanding of our interconnected worlds. Rawz’ story is one of extreme contrast and determination against the odds, themes that he often explores in all aspects of his work. From leaving school with no GCSEs, to becoming Resident Sound Artist at St John’s College Oxford, one of the world’s most prestigious learning institutions, Rawz’ journey stands as testament to his resilient character, and strong work ethic.  

Starting out as an MC and Poet and growing up in one of the UK’s most under-served areas, Greater Leys in Oxford, he first discovered lyric writing in his early teens, finding it an essential way to channel his emotions and organise his thoughts. Since then, Rawz has performed his craft all over Europe, collaborated with musicians from all over the world, and shared stages with some of his childhood heroes.  

As his practice as a Poet and Musician developed, Rawz began to explore other means of expression; experimenting with a range of mediums including collage, sculpture, videography, photography and more, bringing these skills together with his poetry and music to create projects which combine a range of media.  

Through Art, Rawz shares his exploration of interconnection and interdependence. His responses often promote outer change and advancement through inner reflection, and positive action. 

To connect with Rawz on social media use the following links, he would love to hear about your experiences of the tour and what stories you uncovered! 

Facebook:www.facebook.com/realrawz  
Instagram:www.instagram.com/rawz_official  
Twitter:www.twitter.com/realrawz ≠≠

We are looking for creatives and academics to work with the Cultural Programme to deliver new, public facing work or incubate new ideas.  If you are interested in collaborating with us and are excited at working in partnership with either a creative or an academic but don’t know who to approach, let us know and we will see if there is someone that we think may be excited to connect with you

The Cultural programme will invest up to £10,000 plus you will receive support to develop and produce your idea.

We currently have two open calls:

CREATIVE PROJECT
To develop a project with us, your proposal should be audience-focused and have a clear strategy to reach a diverse audience. All the projects we take forward will have support from a dedicated Event Manager. The breakdown of cash spend/in-kind support is determined on a case-by-case basis.

INCUBATION PROJECT
Incubation Projects enable early-stage work with artists and/or cultural partners. At this stage they do not need public engagement, but they must demonstrate the potential to engage with audiences in future stages to qualify for support.

The investment for both schemes is capped at £10,000.

THE CULTURAL PROGRAMME
The Cultural Programme (CP) brings together local, university and global cultural communities in a physical and digital arts centre powered by the University of Oxford’s research. Based in the performance and public spaces in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, we will promote broad engagement with the riches of the humanities by working with outstanding artists, writers, and thinkers from around the world to create and present world-class arts and culture. Innovative and diverse, our programmes will be delivered in collaboration with university, local, national, and international partners.

During 2023 and 2024 in the lead up to the opening of the Schwarzman Centre, we are presenting a programme which involves the development, creation, public performance/exhibition, dissemination or discussion of professional or community cultural activity of any kind (music, theatre, spoken word, comedy, dance, film, installations, exhibitions, displays, digital work etc.) for public audiences.

 The CP will include both individual projects and significant strands of work which enable us to deliver increased impact through association.  These strands are likely to include work focused Medical Humanities (Autumn 2024).

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST
The first stage is a one-page Expression of Interest (EOI). The purpose of the first round of assessment is to assess the general idea behind a project. We will review EOI and may pick up a conversation with you to develop your ideas or introduce you to potential partners. EOIs should be submitted by email by the deadlines listed below.

First round EOI should:

SECOND ROUND
The purpose of the second round is to evaluate proposals in more depth, to consider them alongside other applications and in the context of Cultural Programme’s broader programme of activity. The team will work with applicants to produce detailed plans for the project including logistical and financial planning. At stage 2, all proposals are considered by an independent panel.

Second round applications should also demonstrate:

Applicants are advised of the outcome within 4 weeks of the Second Stage deadline.

Further Details:

Timeframe: Early applications are welcomed for both schemes. Proposals must be for delivery at least 6 months from the Expression of Interest.  We anticipate the next round of projects to start from October 2024. We invite applicants to talk to us first if they want to apply over a shorter time frame.

Audience: Proposals should be audience-focused and have a clear strategy to reach a diverse audience. 

Venues: Activities can take place anywhere, physically, or virtually.  The CP has a particular focus on developing audience relationships in Oxford and Oxfordshire.

Planning requirements: Applicants should consider equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and environmental sustainability in your proposals.

Public Engagement: Applicants can propose activity that is part of an already planned research or education programme (such as a DPhil or developing research project). However, to be supported by the Cultural Programme, both audience and cultural work must sit at the heart of the project – this may necessitate some re-imagining of existing research or education frameworks.

Eligible applicants: Internal applications should be submitted by an individual with an employment contract or studentship that covers the entire timeline of the project. External parties are advised to discuss how to apply in advance by emailing culturalprogramme@humanities.ox.ac.uk

DEADLINES

Friday 24 May 5pm         First Stage – Expression of interest
Thurs 4 July 5pm        Second Stage deadline

Friday 11 Oct 5pm         First Stage – Expression of interest
Monday 11 Nov 5pm        Second Stage deadline

Further deadlines for 2025 will be announced soon.

Please submit your proposal via the downloadable form below to culturalprogramme@humanities.ox.ac.uk  and include the name of the fund and the lead applicant’s name in the subject line of the email.

In the run up to their concert on 28th October, we caught up with Elena Urioste to learn more about the Kaleidosope Chamber Collective and the unique way in which she experiences music.

Why did you and Tom start Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective? 

Our initial impulse to create a chamber collective was derived simply from the desire to play — or continue playing, I should say — music that we love with people that we love.

Tom and I had both reached a point in our respective careers where we felt it would be rewarding to have more agency over our musical lives — to build something from the ground up with our own values at the center, rather than always being at the mercy of others in the industry inviting us along for the ride.

Speaking personally, I suppose Kaleidoscope’s conception in 2017 fell at a time when I was on the brink of leaving my home in New York City — for a number of reasons, but in part because of the sadness I felt at not having felt included in many of the preexisting chamber music societies/circles/“clubs” in the States (certainly not for lack of trying!). I had a fulfilling, busy career as a soloist and my gratitude for those concert opportunities remains endless, but feeling a bit like an outsider on the chamber music scene — which most freelance musicians will tell you is the place they feel most fulfilled — heightened my desire to create something of my own. I wanted to be someone who could potentially provide opportunities for others, and enable the musicians that I loved and believed in to shine as brightly as possible, each in their own unique ways.

One of the characteristics of our Kaleidoscope roster that we’re most proud of is that the people whose music-making and onstage charisma we’re most drawn to also happen to encompass an incredibly wide range of backgrounds, nationalities, ages, and stories; and without exception whenever we all come together to make music, something incredibly special happens. 

Can you tell us more about chamber music?

Chamber music is, quite literally, music to be played in one’s chambers — music on a smaller scale, with only a few musicians in a room rather than a massive symphonic orchestra in a grand hall. It’s the music of friends: intimate, pared down, stripped of excess bulk and distilled to a pure, powerful essence. Of course there is obvious appeal in a theatrical opera production or a massive Mahler symphony, but audience members often say that chamber music makes them feel most a part of the action — you’re sitting up close, you can see facial expressions and tiny body cues and really feel as though you’re helping to bring something alive. Which is true: the intimacy and closeness of a chamber music performance affects the performers as much as the audience — everyone is breathing together, having a shared experience, and that ubiquitous fourth wall really does seem to disappear.

Why do you think people should come to The Colour of Music in the Sheldonian? 

The Sheldonian is such a beautiful venue, and we’ve devised our colour-themed programme specially for the occasion. Kaleidoscope loves sharing music which is deservedly beloved (our programme concludes with Mendelssohn’s Octet, one of the most joyful pieces ever written) alongside music which doesn’t get heard as often as it deserves to be. We collectively fell in love with Amy Beach’s gloriously romantic Piano Quintet a few years back, recorded it during the pandemic (BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library recently selected our recording as the best available), and have passionately championed it ever since. We’re also playing music by two amazing living American composers – Jennifer Higdon, whose Pale Yellow is a beautiful meditation for piano trio, and Jessie Montgomery (a dear friend of mine) whose Starburst opens the concert in a blaze of brilliance.

Why is The Colour of Music important to you?

I’m synaesthetic, so I see all music in colour. More specifically, I see all letters in color, both written and spoken — A is cranberry red, B is blue, C is mustard yellow, etc., though the hue of each letter is informed somewhat by its neighbors, either within words or within musical melodies/harmonies. I also have perfect pitch, so for example, a D Major triad (a chord made up of the notes D, F#, and A) would paint a wash of blue, earthy purple, and pinkish red in my mind. Amy Beach shared a version of this condition, and associated each musical key with a different colour.

Something else we’re passionate about is supporting brilliant musicians of the next generation, so we’re very excited to be joined by students from Oxford University and Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra in this special concert.

What can people expect at the concert? 

First and foremost, vibrant music-making, from five of Kaleidoscope’s core instrumentalists – Tom and I will be joined by three dear friends and colleagues, violinist Savitri Grier (who was an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford), viola player Edgar Francis, and cellist Tony Rymer.

We’ll also be chatting to the audience about the music we’re playing, why we chose and why we love it, and about the fascinating neurological condition of synaesthesia. We want everyone to have a wonderful, transportive time, whether it’s their first concert or their thousandth!

What do you hope people take away from The Colour of Music? 

Joy! Enthusiasm! Escape! Maybe an interest in the fascinating world of synaesthesia and how it informs music! We hope that young people, people who love clapping between movements and tapping their feet to the beat, people who have never been to a classical concert before, people who have been to countless classical concerts before but want to hear something they maybe haven’t heard before and smile because our energy is contagious — we hope they all come to share music with us!

Fifty-five steps down into the hole and here we are, standing on the concrete base that will become the new concert hall in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.

One of the joys of being part of a new team, involved in a new project, is seeing something extraordinary happen.  It is a privilege to part of this new story for the University of Oxford.

Just days ago, we celebrated an important milestone, reaching the lowest point in the site. From that point onwards we will see the building start to grow, and the only way is up.

Today we are headed down to the lower floor where the concert hall, theatre, black box, and rehearsal spaces will be located. The entire basement slab is created as 18 pieces of work and we are watching concrete pour number 5 out of 18. Steve from Laing O’Rourke shares the facts and his enthusiasm in infectious.  I can’t write it all down fast enough:

We stand in the viewing centre watching a continuous pour of hot concrete into a hopper. They started today at 7 pm and end at 5 pm.  During this time a radio-controlled boom arm discharges a progressive and continuous stream onto the base of the site. The trick is to make sure the concrete looks as if it’s all been poured at the same time.  They really are magicians.

We watch quietly, in awe, as the trucks, hoppers and team perform their task in sequence like dancers in a carefully choreographed routine.  The cranes, tall and imposing, pose in beautiful symmetry, quietly watching the performance.

As we snap back to reality, someone asks ‘where does all the earth go?”  The answer? 80000 tonnes of earth have been taken to soil recycling centre in Kidlington.  It’s all part of a considered environmental strategy that forms part of the build.

Next it was time to head inside the new centre.   After a quick demonstration, we each put on the VR headset and explored the spaces.   It was my first-time using VR and I’m glad I was warned not to move my head too quickly. Within seconds I forgot where I was and explored the concert hall. In my virtual world I was able to move around the auditorium and look up and around in all directions.  It felt like I was there except one thing was missing.  The audience.  Nothing can simulate the feeling of being of being part of an audience, just before a performance starts.

Over the coming year, while the building takes shape, the Cultural Programme will be building partnerships, meeting our community and creating extraordinary events.

OXFORD iS getting ready!

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