19 Aug 2020
Today I discuss the wonderful world of musical therapy with Professor Nigel Osbourne. His works have been featured in most major international festivals and performed by many leading orchestras and ensembles around the world. He has also composed extensively for the theatre and through his Institute in Edinburgh, is exploring the interfaces of music and science in important areas such as mental and physical well-being.
He has also pioneered methods of using music and the creative arts to support children who are victims of conflict. This approach was developed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992-95), and since then the work has been implemented widely in the Balkan region, the Caucasus (Chechnya), the Middle East (Palestine, Syria and Lebanon), East Africa and South East Asia. He is currently working with Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, and planning a new intervention in Yemen. In 2009 he was awarded the Freedom Prize of the Peace Institute, Sarajevo, for his work for Bosnian children during the siege of the city.
In today’s podcast we discuss:
We also wanted to share with you a project that is very close to Nigel’s heart - Edinburgh Direct Aid. Nigel is currently supporting a music therapy project they are running in Lebanon. The Director of the project - Dr Denis Rutovitz, is a former Human Geneticist and Medical Researcher, and the Medical Adviser, Dr Colin Cooper, a hugely respected retired Edinburgh GP. Please do have a look at the work they do, they would be delighted with any support.
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"You get a group of kids together who have been through traumatic experiences, and you give them something that gives them a bit of release and joy and my god do you get a wave of energy back. Im quite a scientific person and I dont know how to measure that energy , but its a colossal human energy that comes flying back at you and it says carry on "
Professor Nigel Osborne
British Composer Award for Inspiration – Nigel Osborne MBE
Nigel Osborne MBE BA BMus (Oxon) DLitt FRCM FEIS FRSE, Emeritus Professor of Music and Human Sciences at the University of Edinburgh is a composer, teacher and aid worker. He has been decreed by the Guardian as one of the UK’s “best kept musical secrets”. His works have been performed around the world by major orchestras and opera houses, such as the Vienna Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony, Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House. He has received, among many awards, the Netherlands Gaudeamus Prize, the Opera Prize of the Radio Suisse Romande and Ville de Geneve, the Koussevitzky Award of the Library of Congress Washington and the Inspiration Award (2017) of the British Academy of Songwriters and Composers (BASCA). He also works in popular music, theatre and film and has a special interest in Arabic, Indian and Chinese music. He studied composition at Oxford with Egon Wellesz, the first pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, and in Warsaw with Witold Rudzinski, and worked in major studios such as the Polish Radio Experimental Studio and at IRCAM in Paris. He has worked as a sailor, school teacher, health worker, aid worker and university teacher, holding a lectureship and Special Professorship at Nottingham University (1978-1987), the Reid Chair and Dean of the Faculty of Music at Edinburgh University (1989-2012), a guest Senior Professorship (C4) at the University of Hannover (1996-98) and Head of Faculty for the Vienna- Prague- Budapest Summer Academy (ISA) (2007-2014). He is currently Professor Emeritus at Edinburgh University, and Consultant to the Chinese Music Institute, Peking University, and has worked as visiting lecturer and examiner in a wide range of universities, ranging from Harvard, UCLA and CalArts to Oxford, Gedai Tokyo and the Sorbonne and Bologna. As a teacher he has worked at all levels of learning, from nursery education to postdoctoral supervision, and continues to work in special education development in places as diverse as Scotland, Sweden, Croatia and India. He was awarded both the Queen’s Prize and Music Industry Prize for innovation in education, was recently made Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland, and is Chair of the Inclusion Knowledge Base, Sweden. He has pioneered methods of using music and the creative arts to support children who are victims of conflict. This approach was developed during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1992-95), and since then the work has been implemented widely in the Balkan region, the Caucasus (Chechnya), the Middle East (Palestine, Syria and Lebanon), East Africa and South East Asia. He is currently working for SAWA for Development and Aid with Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, and planning a new intervention in Yemen. In 2009 he was awarded the Freedom Prize of the Peace Institute, Sarajevo, for his work for Bosnian children during the siege of the city. He has worked actively in many human rights initiatives, including the Committee for the Defence of the Workers in Poland (1970-89), Citizens’ Forum (with Vaclav Havel) in former Czechoslovakia (1987- 89), for Syrian refugee support organisations and directly for the Government of Bosnia- Herzegovina during the genocide. In 2012-14 served as co-Chair of the Global Agenda Committee for Arts in Society for the World Economic Forum. From 1980-90 he served on the Music Panel of the British Council, and as an international adviser. He has also acted as adviser to the European Union External Services (on refugees and on Ukraine), and is currently collaborating in a campaign for the release of culture and human rights activist Osman Kavala from prison in Istanbul. He has recently completed a musical/ecological work for Khazanah, Kuala Lumpur (2017), an orchestral version of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra to mark the 50th anniversary of the issue of the album (June 2017), a cantata based on the experiences of refugees for C.O.M.A. (2018), an opera/film with Ulysses Theatre and Paradiso Films on the Cambridge spies (2019) and a community opera - Citta Silenziosa - as part of the European City of Culture programme 2019 for Matera in Italy. In addition he has recently written music for theatre productions, including Shakespeare Summer Nights, Antigone, The Bacchae and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for Ulysses Theatre and Ivan Viripaev’s Illusions for the National Theatre Varazdin. He is working on a commission of the Donaueschingen Festival 2020 - A Short History of Polish Philosophy - and an and adaptation of the Ponti/Scola film Brutti, Sporchi e Cattavi for the Belgrade Drama Theatre. His principal current focus is on preparations for performances of a new chamber opera, Naciketa, with libretto by Ariel Dorfman, priced by Opera Circus. The premiere will be at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank London in May 2021.
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