CoMA Sussex

Photo Will Perrett
Photo Will Perrett

About us

Founded in 2005, we’re an instrumental group, directed by Steve Dummer, that rehearses once a month on a Sunday afternoon at the University of Sussex, near Brighton, and gives public concerts.

New members – whatever their instrument – are always very welcome. Your first rehearsal is free of charge. (See Membership and Contacts below for full details.)

Here are four videos of us playing, recently made by independent film maker John Crix and sound engineer François DeVille:

Veilings 1 by Phil Baker  12:53

Three Conjugations by Patrick Harrex  6:20

Pachamama by Diego Monsalve  8:23

Open by Guy Richardson  5:35

Image John Crix/West44 Productions
Image John Crix/West44 Productions

We’ve been busy recently …

In September 2018 we performed in St John’s Smith Square, London, as part of CoMA’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. As well as having our own spot we had great fun playing along with ensembles from Berlin, Maastricht and the UK.

At the Friends’ Meeting House in Brighton in November 2018, we collaborated with New Music Brighton to give first performances of new works that we’d previously workshopped with the composers. We also played pieces by members of our ensemble other composers associated with the collaborating groups.

Out of this came the exciting video collaboration with John and François in summer 2019.

In October 2019 we had a lovely time giving a lunchtime concert at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, an amazing place, hosted by composer in residence Mary Hampton. To suit the location we focused on pieces that related to the visual arts, including two receiving their world premieres. A month later we gave a lunchtime concert as part or the Adur Arts Live festival in the lovely Norman Church of St Mary de Haura in Shoreham-by-Sea.

Our big achievement this March has been a weekend of contemporary music making at St Mary’s Church, Kemp Town in Brighton as part of CoMA’s Festival of Contemporary Music for All. Other amateur musicians joined us in rehearsing and performing alongside members of professional contemporary music group The Riot Ensemble. There were four public concerts, which included several pieces written specially for our ensemble and several commissioned for the festival.

… and looking ahead we’ll be just as busy …

We planned to return to West Dean College in June 2020 but Covid prevented that. We hope to reschedule the event when circumstances allow.

In the meantime, we’re delighted that John Crix has recently joined us again, this time bringing video material he’s developed to complement performances of some of our pieces. The approach is entirely new: special software allows John to manipulate and transform his film sequences in real time to be displayed as an organic part of the performance. In so doing he enters the world of flexible tempo and improvisation: if, for instance, we play a piece slightly more quickly or include an additional solo then John has to follow. ‘My laptop is becoming yet another instrument in the ensemble,’ says John, ‘and, like the other players, I’m learning to be alert to signs and cues from our conductor and the instrumentalists around me.’

Looking to a future possibility, we’re pleased to have been approached for CoMA Sussex members to take part in workshops following on from Rachel Fryer’s ‘Variations down the line’ project, in which five composers have been commissioned to make present-day responses to Bach’s Goldberg Variations (more details here).

We like playing in varied venues and enjoy collaborating …

Over the years we’ve played at the East Sussex Music Centre and Lancing College, and several times as part of the Adur Arts Live Festival in Shoreham-by-Sea. We’ve given concerts in partnership with the lively student contemporary music group at Chichester University and workshops in collaboration with Worthing’s Revolutionary Music Group. In 2012 we collaborated with the Southampton Concert Orchestra in Gavin Bryars’s epic The Sinking of the Titanic at Southampton Guildhall.

You can hear some of our earlier performances here.

Rehearsals

We meet once a month on a Sunday afternoon. We have had two rehearsals this term with Covid-secure protocols in place; everything worked well and everyone felt safe. However, because of the new national restrictions the rehearsal planned for 8 November has been cancelled.

If the restrictions have been lifted by then, we plan to rehearse on Sunday 13 December in the Hall across the passage just to the east of St Mary’s Church, Kemp Town, Brighton. We will have access at 2:30 p.m.; the rehearsal will be shorter than usual, with no break.

Rehearsals for the early part of 2021 are being planned.

Our MD Steve Dummer studied clarinet with Jack Brymer at the Guildhall School and conducting at the Royal College of Music and Dartington. He directed us in our early days and after several years away, during which he’s built up an extensive conducting portfolio, we were delighted to have him return as our MD in 2017.

Photo Will Perrett
Photo Will Perrett

Membership

Membership of CoMA Sussex costs:
£76 per year (£56 concessions), paid annually,
£8 per month by standing order (£6 concessions)
£12 per rehearsal (£8 concessions).

Members must also become a CoMA national Ensemble Member (monthly subscription £3 standard, £2 concessions, £1 full-time students).

Contacts

Music Director: Steve Dummer

Chair: Paul Scruton

Secretary: Lluís Nadal; email sussex@coma.org

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Upcoming events

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