Department of Music and Media


Welcome to the Department of Music and Media

We offer programmes in Music, Creative Music Technology, Sound Recording, Digital Media Arts and Film & Video Production Technology, exposing students to a unique world of music diversity.

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Award winning Alumni

Read more about our outstanding Oscar, Grammy and BAFTA winning alumni.

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‘Writing About Contemporary Artists: Challenges, Practices and Complexities’

An international, multi-disciplinary three-day conference to be hosted at the University of Surrey, UK

20 October 2017 - 22 October 2017

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University of Surrey hosts ‘Study Day on Teaching and Creativity in Popular Music’

Academics and practitioners coverge to discuss 'Teaching Creativity' within music.

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Surrey hosts world's first 5G digital gaming initiative

World’s first 5G Digital Gaming initiative launched at University of Surrey during the G3: Futures event on 5 July

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Make Music at Surrey

Whatever subject you may be studying at Surrey, there are ample opportunities for you to peform and make music whilst you are here.

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Institute of Sound Recording (IoSR)

The Institute of Sound Recording (IoSR) is responsible for world-class research in psychoacoustic engineering as well as being home to the world-famous Tonmeister® course in Music & Sound Recording.

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14 student acts perform at ‘Live at University Hall’

The latest ‘Live at University Hall’ took place at the University of Surrey on the evening of 31 March 2017.

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Keeping it classic with the LSO

Reflections from a music PTY placement visit by Dr Georiga Volioti

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Revolutionary approach brings 3D sound into the living room

Computer vision and sound experts at the University of Surrey have demonstrated ‘Media Device Orchestration’ – an innovative home audio concept which enables users to enjoy immersive audio experiences by using all available devices in a typical living room.

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News story

Tonmeister trio up for American TV awards

Once again alumni from our famous Tonmeister course have been shortlisted for this year’s Emmy Awards which honour the best in US prime-time television.

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News story

University of Surrey hosts ‘Study Day on Teaching and Creativity in Popular Music’

Academics and practitioners coverge to discuss 'Teaching Creativity' within music.

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News story

Immersions exhibition showcases collaboration of artists, designers and engineers

This July, Digital World Research Centre presented the exhibition Immersions at the Lewis Elton Gallery.

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  • Odaline de la Martinez graduated from the University of Surrey with a MMus in 1977 and has pursued a demanding and successful international career as a composer, conductor and producer.

    Martinez was the first female in history to conduct a complete BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. She is internationally recognised for her promotion of Latin-American and contemporary composers.

    She has been the artistic director of contemporary music ensemble Lontano which she founded in 1976. She founded the LORELT record label in 1992 and in 2016 conducted the first complete recording of Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate by Retrospect Opera.

    Martinez grew up in the USA studying at Tulane University, New Orleans, where she read both music and mathematics. Following the award of a Marshall Scholarship, she continued her studies in Europe. Martinez attended the Royal Academy of Music where she studied composition with Paul Patterson and piano with Else Cross. At the University of Surrey she studied with Reginald Smith Brindle before graduating with her MMus in Composition.

    Martinez has worked with orchestras across the world, recorded extensively and conducted repertoire from Mozart symphonies to the latest contemporary music. She has received numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship (USA), and won the Opera Award for Female Composers in 2015. Her first opera, Sister Aimee: An American Legend (1984), was premiered at Tulane University in 1984 followed by two other productions at the Royal College of Music (1987) and Marin County College, California (1995).

    Her second opera Imoinda  (2005-2008) was commissioned by the Caribbean Women Writers’ Alliance (CWWA) with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund, UK. The Crossing, the final instalment in her Slavery Opera Trilogy, was commissioned by Tulane University and premiered in New Orleans in April 2013, whilst she was there as composer in residence. This work received a UK premiere in November 2014 at the opening concert of The Fifth London Festival of American Music.

    In 2015 Martinez was awarded an Opera America grant to produce a video of Imoinda. More recently, in 2016, she received a Women Make Music grant from the PRS for Music Foundation toward the writing of her next opera, Plantation.

    Martinez is in demand throughout the world both as an orchestral and opera conductor and with her own ensemble, Lontano. She has recorded numerous CDs for LORELT, her own record label, as well as Summit, BMI and Albany Records based in the United States, Chandos, Metier and Conifer Classics based in the UK and Da Capo in Denmark.

    As a musician, Martinez has acquired a remarkable reputation for her versatile and eclectic vision, and her supreme ability to work with others to make that vision a reality.

    In 2016, Martinez was the first recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award at the University of Surrey.

    What attracted you to choose to study at music at Surrey?

    It was because of Reginald Smith Brindle who was a professor at Surrey, a composer and a well-known writer about contemporary music across the world. There was no other choice for me – I always say in this regard that Surrey chose me. He was excellent and one of the best teachers I have ever had.

    How did your musical career progress?

    At around the same time as joining Surrey, I founded, with flautist Ingrid Culliford, Lontano, a London-based contemporary music ensemble. I realised that people had very little knowledge of the diversity of contemporary music and I wanted to make the work of women composers, in particular, and Latin-American music more widely known. Women composers didn’t really get a look in and I thought here’s my chance to make a difference.

    Lontano became successful very quickly; within a year we were performing on BBC Radio 3 while still students. I started out as a pianist at Lontano but I always knew I wanted to be a conductor and it has enabled me to have a great career working all over the world.

    I am still artistic director at Lontano and, as well as performing all over the world and recording, we are also dedicated to providing valuable music experiences for children and adults in East and South-East London. We aim to reach the most deprived and isolated communities, bringing people together through the creation and performance of original music.

    Our flagship education programme, Connections, has been running since 2008 with the aim of celebrating Gypsy Roma Traveller music and culture. We work with children across London as well as musicians of Gypsy Roma Traveller heritage in order to encourage community cohesion amongst people of all backgrounds.

    What are your career highlights?

    In 1984, I became the first woman to conduct a complete BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. I was surprised and delighted but at the same time sad that it had taken so long – to think that not one woman had been asked before.

    I am inspired by the work of Ethel Smyth, the first female composer to receive a Damehood, in 1922.  For years Ethel was remembered more for her work as suffragette than as a composer but she wrote in the brightest, largest scope, which was not common for women. She was a close friend of conductors, composers and soloists of the time and in later life wrote about them when deafness prevent her from composing.

    I have recorded a lot of her music and conducted the first modern recording of her comic opera The Boatswain’s Mate.

    One of my highlights was receiving the Villa Lobos medal in 1987 from the Brazilian government for championing the music of Heitor Villa Lobos and other Brazilian composers.

    How did you feel to be named as our first winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award?

    I was delighted, honoured, humbled and surprised.

    What are your aspirations for the future?

    I am really looking forward to the premiere of my complete ‘Slavery Trilogy’, at the London Festival of American Music in 2018.  To my knowledge, it is the first Afro-Cuban opera on slavery.

    I love Afro-Cuban music. It brings back memories of my childhood, falling asleep to the drumming and waking up when it stopped in the middle of the night. It has influenced me greatly.

    I have one more opera in me and it will be about Cuba. I want to tell the story of the people who tried to escape to the US in boats and rafts, not always succeeding. I would also like to perform the Slavery Trilogy in the country which inspired it.

    What advice would you give to students hoping to work in your field?

    As a career, music can be very up and down but stick with it. Don’t wait for someone to give you a break, just carry on.

  • Placement visits have their perks. They take you places, both literally and metaphorically. Today’s visit was at the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), at the Barbican Centre in the heart of the City of London. My usual 40 minute train journey into London Waterloo, followed by a shorter journey on the tube to reach Barbican on the Metropolitan line, wasn’t anything too arduous. Silk Street and the surrounding area, where the Barbican Centre is located, is a place I am already pretty familiar with from my student days in London. Coming here again brings back many happy reminiscences; meetings with friends, purchases from the small quirky music shop on the corner that still looks the same, and memorable concert evenings at the Barbican.

    A distinctive feature of the London skyline, the Barbican’s imposing architecture engulfs a cultural oasis for the arts. Inside this maze-like multi-storey building lies a feast for the senses. The Barbican Centre is one of Europe’s largest multi-arts venues hosting an impressive range of events; art, theatre, music, film, dance and creative learning activities. From classical music concerts by renowned musicians to sonic art installations, dance performance exhibitions, sci-fi film screenings in the first-of-its-kind outdoor cinema, and experimental works that promise artistic journeys into the realm of the extraordinary. Music students who work as interns for one of the LSO’s departments are surrounded by all this vibrant culture and access to events, with many music concerts for free, is literally at their door step.

    The LSO, originally formed in 1904, has been the resident orchestra at the Barbican since its opening in 1982. It gives a large number of concerts, of both classical and contemporary music, at the Barbican and on tour worldwide. The LSO also programmes innovative workshops and concerts through its community and education department, LSO Discovery. Its mission is to bring music to the greatest number of people and serve the public.

    LSO Discovery offers a training placement that has traditionally been taken up by a University of Surrey Music undergraduate. This year’s intern, Alan Read (Music BMus), has been actively involved in a range of impressive activities for various Discovery projects, including organising and running school Gamelan workshops, numerous sessions with LSO Discovery choirs and more recently the rehearsals and performance of Andrew Norman’s opera A Trip to the Moon. The July performance, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, marked the UK premiere of Norman’s opera; a work inspired by the 1902 French silent film with the same title (Le Voyage dans la Lune) by Georges Méliès. The opera brings together onstage children’s and amateur choirs with professional opera singers in a spectacular musical phantasmagoria about lunar encounters.

    During their professional training year, students on placement will be visited three times by their designated placement tutor: early on, around the middle, and towards the end of their placement. Today’s visit was the third, and final, one at LSO Discovery. So, what happens at these visits, what is the role of the tutor and what can students on placement expect to gain from these sessions? Although there is a recommended format that is usually followed, what’s for sure is that no placement visit is exactly the same. Each opportunity to meet with the students, at different stages of their professional training, provides a rather unique experience of learning and reflection. The purpose of these visits is to have an informal discussion with the student and their line manager or supervisor, about how things are going. Besides identifying opportunities for further personal and professional development within the role, the placement visit offers a chance to reflect.

    Reflection is integral to the learning process which in turn implies a process of change and transformation through agency. The role of reflective observation has been theorised in David Kolb’s influential Learning Cycle (1984), which the diagram below adapts and illustrates with a plausible scenario about organising music rehearsals.

    Just carrying out a task is seldom enough to learn something new. Instead, an experience has the capacity to yield learning when it involves the key elements of reflecting, interpreting, and testing our interpretations in subsequent actions we take. Obviously, learning through reflecting on our experiences cannot always be compartmentalised neatly into the boxes of a flow chart, but we all, more or less, engage in some form of reflection, implicitly or explicitly, which enhances learning. Reflective practice is also important for the tutor to engage in. Reflecting on ourselves as tutors, on the passionate and discerning personal involvement during placement visits, offers a legitimate source of experiential knowledge about better understanding and supporting our students’ learning and development.

    • To find out more about events the Barbican Centre, see
    • Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

    (28 July 2017, blog text by Dr. Georgia Volioti)

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Arts events at Surrey

  • Alumni events
  • Arts
  • Events for schools & colleges
  • Performance
  • Retired staff

University of Surrey Orchestra Day - Sunday 1st October

  • Sunday 01 Oct. 2017

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Alumni Profile: Odaline de la Martinez

Internationally recognised composer, conductor, producer and winner of the Vice-Chancellor's Lifetime Achievement Award 2016

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Tonmeister trio up for American TV awards

Once again alumni from our famous Tonmeister course have been shortlisted for this year’s Emmy Awards which honour the best in US prime-time television.

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Emmy-winning 'Sherlock' composer joins Surrey's Tonmeister teaching team

Award-winning screen composer and Tonmeister graduate Michael Price returns to the department as a Visiting Professor.

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The Guitar World comes to Surrey

A world-class line-up of speakers, performers and artists gathered at the University of Surrey for the International Guitar Research Centre's 2016 conference.

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BBC Radio 3's Sarah Walker announces winner of Joyce Dixey Competition 2017

Musical diversity and engagement showcased by students of the Department of Music and Media.

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