Making Music in the time of Covid-19 | University of Oxford
EMPRES award
Music in the time of Covid-19

Making Music in the time of Covid-19

Research at Oxford has shown music brings people together and makes them feel better - and social distancing has provided overwhelming support for such academic music theories.

To celebrate music of the lockdown, Oxford’s music faculty is today inviting entries for a unique competition focusing on safe collaboration, networking and virtual collectivity

To celebrate music of the lockdown, Oxford’s music faculty is today inviting entries for a unique competition focusing on safe collaboration, networking and virtual collectivity. At the same time, Oxford music students are giving an online performance tonight [24 April] for the YoungDementia UK charity.

The EMPRES Award 2020 invites creative, collaborative responses to the global challenge, of making music and art during the Covid-19 pandemic. Entries can come from any member of the University of Oxford and their creative associates. This could include filmmakers, writers, visual artists, composers and musicians. 

Meanwhile, Oxford musicians became involved with the Oxfordshire-based charity as part of the Turtle Song project. The aims is to reach out to people with dementia and engage with them socially and creatively. Music is proven to be of great physical and emotional benefit to people living with dementia.

The work was cut short by the lockdown. But the whole group, include those living with dementia, came together by Zoom last Friday and hope to ‘meet’ regularly during this difficult time. According Turtle Song project director Carolyn von Stumm: ‘The joy at the group being reunited as we all sang and danced in our living rooms was palpable.  A wonderfully, uplifting, positive story with a very human perspective.’

Oxford music students are giving an online performance tonight [24 April] for the YoungDementia UK charity

Will Prior, an Oxford music student who has been involved with the project, says: ‘Volunteering...has been eye opening and inspirational in equal parts....it is a great shame that we were not able to meet as a group in person for the (final performance) we have found a way, through the wonder of Zoom, to connect with each other...Although the social dynamic is vastly altered...there’s something rather special about seeing a group of people...dancing round their living rooms without a care in the world whilst belting out...songs that you wrote together.’

The EMPRES competition is also aimed at engaging people with music during these challenging times. The Music faculty’s electronic music studio manager and EMPRES artistic director, Daniel Hulme, comments: 'We are living through times inconceivable just a few months ago, that will no doubt resonate for many years to come. This is both an extraordinary crisis, and potentially an extraordinary stimulus to do something remarkable.'

This is both an extraordinary crisis, and potentially an extraordinary stimulus to do something remarkable

 The deadline for submissions is Monday 15 June. There are two broad categories:

  •  Experimental Electronic Music and
  • Sound Art.

Submissions in both categories are welcomed from collaborations with other artists, researchers and disciplines. There will be prizes in both categories and online publication – with a live performance of selected works later in the year.  A key requirement is that the works are deliverable within the current UK guidelines around social distancing – and could include a digital experience or a web-based installation. And they must be no longer than eight minutes.

Submissions for the EMPRES, Electronic Music Research, competition should be sent via WeTransfer (or another web transfer service) in a single ZIP file to empres@music.ox.ac.uk.  For full details please see https://empres.music.ox.ac.uk/empres-award-2020

Turtle Song has run 28 projects throughout the UK over the last 11 years, involving 800 participants, 150 music students and 10 universities and music colleges.  You can see their performances at  https://www.turtlekeyarts.org.uk/turtle-song

ENDS