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Zeitgeist commissions for Royal Holloway composition staff

Dr Tonia Ko and Dr Nina Whiteman receive prestigious research commissions

  • Date21 June 2021

Composition lecturers Dr Tonia Ko and Dr Nina Whiteman have been commissioned by Riot Ensemble in 2020-21 to create new solo works for the Zeitgeist series. Both researchers have drawn on physicalities highlighted by the pandemic to create original sonic and visual material.

Zeitgeist Upshaw.png

Stephen Upshaw (viola, Riot Ensemble)

Tonia's new composition for viola was co-commissioned by Riot Ensemble and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival:

'Soothe a Tooth is a brief contemplation on clenched jaws, cracked teeth, and dry tongues – as well as the coping techniques one might try in order to soothe these invisible stress responses. The work highlights and isolates the physical motion of tensing and relaxing hands, often allowing the gesture to dictate sonic results. Through these repeated patterns, the lone musician attempts to tolerate his own distress.'

Tonia Ko's Soothe a tooth (2020)

Nina's work for soprano, electronics, and video was funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation:

'Research tells us that spontaneous facial self touch is a comforting mechanism, and that we can touch our own faces up to 50 times an hour without necessarily being aware that we are doing so (e.g. see Mueller et al 2019).

During 2020-21, touching our faces has become a forbidden act that endangers our health. Forbidden presents simultaneously as an elegy to facial touch and a dangerous act of rebellion.

(Please note the film was made in the safety of the artist's home.)'

Nina Whiteman's Forbidden (2020)

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