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PLAY: Music for Game Controllers

A creative collaboration exploring the possibilities of video game controllers in music composition and performance.

Presented by The Cultural Programme and Jesus College Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub

Book Tickets

Thursday 30 May 5:30pm



Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub, Jesus College, Market Street Oxford OX1 3EQ


FREE, but booking is essential.


  • Wheelchair Access

Age Rating

Suggested age 12+


5:30pm – 7:30pm


Entrance to this event is via the Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub entrance on Market Street, Oxford (opposite Wagamama). Lift access available to all floors. If you have any questions about accessibility or other support requirements for this event, please contact the venue at

*Filming and photography will be taking place during the event. If you do not wish to be photographed, please notify a member of the Hub team on arrival.

This event is part of the Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub events programme's Gaming Season.

The project began with a question: what happens when we transform these controllers into musical instruments? What kinds of new music will emerge? How can music provide a space to examine themes shared by video games and musical performance, including control, identity, dexterity and – of course – play? To answer this question, five new works for ensemble The House of Bedlam have been commissioned from a variety of UK-based composers. These exciting and diverse works break new ground, requiring entirely new approaches to composition and performance.

The performance includes five new works and existing music to be interpreted by traditional instruments and video game controller instruments.

Sarah Hennies – Growing Block (2019) for mixed ensemble (2019)

Hongshuo Fan 范弘硕 – new work for video game controllers (2024)

Cassie Kinoshi – new work for ensemble and video game controllers (2024)

Robert Laidlow – Speedrun for cello and video game controller (2024)

Bofan Ma – new work for flute and video game controller (2024)

Ellen Sargen – HIVE for saxophone and video game controller (2024)

In partnership with the Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub at Jesus College. 

Supported by The Cultural Programme, PRiSM, the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the Royal Northern College of Music, funded by the Research England fund Expanding Excellence in England (E3).

Plan your visit

Cheng Kar Shun Digital Hub, Jesus College, Market Street Oxford OX1 3EQ

Composers and Performers

Composer & Career Development Fellow in Music at Jesus College
Composer & Career Development Fellow in Music at Jesus College

Robert Laidlow’s “gigantically imaginative” (BBC Radio 3) music is concerned with discovering and developing new forms of musical expression through the relation-ship between advanced technology, scientific collaboration, and live performance. Recent compositions include ‘Silicon’ for orchestra and artificial intelligence and ‘Post-Singularity Songs’ for soprano and electronics. He is a Fellow in Composition at Jesus College, Oxford University, and from 2018-22 he was the RNCM PRiSM PhD Researcher in Artificial Intelligence with the BBC Philharmonic.



The House of Bedlam are an ensemble described by the Guardian as an engagingly unquantifiable collective. Dedicated to new and recent music they have performed around the UK, released music on NMC and Nonclassical, and have been broadcast extensively on BBC Radio 3. They are Larry Goves (director, composer, and electronics), Kathryn Williams (flutes), Carl Raven (clarinets and saxophones), and Stephanie Tress (cello).



composer, new media artist, and creative programmer
composer, new media artist, and creative programmer

Hongshuo Fan 范弘硕 is a Chinese cross-disciplinary composer, new media artist, and creative programmer. He has extensive experience in creating real-time inter-active multimedia content, including acoustic instruments, live electronics, gen-erative visuals, light, and body movements and is particularly interested in the fusion of traditional culture and cutting-edge technology. Hongshuo holds a PhD in Electroacoustic Composition from the University of Manchester and is the Research Software Engineer at RNCM PRiSM.


composer, arranger and alto-saxophonist
composer, arranger and alto-saxophonist

Cassie Kinoshi is a Mercury Prize-nominated and Ivors Academy Award-winning composer, arranger and alto-saxophonist with a focus on creating multi-disciplinary and genre-blending performance work in various audio-visual contexts. As a bandleader, she writes for and performs with her ten-piece ensemble seed. which features many top London-based improvising musicians. In 2023 her commission ‘gratitude’ for the London Contemporary Orchestra, seed. and award-winning turntablist NikNak was premiered at the Southbank Centre and in 2021 she was Artist-in-Resident for London Unwrapped festival at King’s Place.


composer-performer and intermedia researcher
composer-performer and intermedia researcher

Bofan Ma is a Manchester-based composer-performer and intermedia researcher. Originally from China, he makes music that embodies a normalised, transnational creative identity, addressing issues around cultural bias, inclusion, and accessibility in the age of AI. He has worked with ensembles/initiatives including the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), SHCM Chinese Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Distractfold, Psappha, ANU Productions Ireland, Ensemble X.y, Vonnegut Collective, Music Theatre Wales.


creative practitioner, composition and performance
creative practitioner, composition and performance

Ellen Sargen is a creative practitioner working through composition and performance to interrogate participatory approaches to composition. Her collaborative work extends across diverse projects based in experimental and/ or instrumental performance, community music-making, cross-cultural research, and AI. Ellen’s work often entangles with ethnography and anthropology and her recent commissions blossomed from her practice of creating music from the playful, sincere, intimate relationships she develops with players during the creative process.


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