Meaningful evening paints vibrant picture of Sussex music and launches new music recording studio in style
By: Ian Tout
Last updated: Monday, 14 October 2019
Alumni, staff and students came together this week to honour the memory and music of the much-loved Professor of Music Jonathan Harvey and to celebrate the re-opening of an amazing creative space named in his honour.
The new Jonathan Harvey Electronic Music Studio may be tucked away up a curved flight of steps at the back of the café in Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) but its opening was celebrated with a richness and variety of musical output by a vibrant gathering of Sussex music alumni and current students.
Formerly the Electronic Music Studio in the Gardner Arts Centre, this space had a productive existence as a creative recording studio for music students and staff at Sussex in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, before being closed for several years when the Gardner Arts Centre went dark.
Laura McDermott, Creative Director of the Attenborough Centre, said: "This beautiful new music recording studio is the result of several years' of planning and collaboration with colleagues from the School of Media, Film and Music. How apt that it has come to fruition this autumn as we celebrate 50 years since this building first opened its doors as the Gardner Arts Centre in November 1969.
"The Gardner Arts Centre was the UK’s first campus-based university arts centre and now, refurbished and reopened as Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts it is a testament to the University of Sussex’s commitment to the role of arts and creativity in education and in society - an essential component in this social and intellectual community.
"The event was brilliantly arranged by Dr Evelyn Ficarra and represents the perfect blend between staff, current students, alumni and professional practice. I’m thrilled that we have been able to bring this facet of the building’s rich legacy to life for many future generations."
Professor Harvey’s children, Anna and Dominic Harvey were present and took part in the naming ceremony. Dominic wrote in the guest book: 'Thanks very much for this - it is a great honour and my father would be very pleased!'
Following the launch of the Studio, there was a concert showcasing music by Jonathan Harvey and an excerpt of a film made by Barrie Gavin for BBC Omnibus in 1986, about Jonathan Harvey’s work Madonna of Winter and Spring. This was followed by an installation in the Studio of music composed in that space during the 1980s and 90s. Meanwhile those gathered in the café heard a live mash-up of music by Sussex composers past and present (including music by current students) put together by DJ Random (Sussex alumna Sarah Collins).
The evening concluded with a concert by Sussex Music alumni: Cristian Vogel, who is one of the foremost names in dance-based experimental techno and the five-piece band Squid (three of whom studied music at Sussex). DIYmag.com said of Squid “the band team the chunky dance-punk of the mid-’00s with the hyperactive sting of Foals’ earliest recordings to make something that brings genres and styles together forcefully and fantastically.”
Arthur Leadbetter, who gained a Music BA from Sussex and is a member of Squid, also wrote in the guestbook: 'So happy this building is in its best action ever, and that the music dept here is flourishing. Long live Sussex'.