CoMA Sussex

CoMA Sussex Ensemble with former Music Director, Steve Dummer. Photo Will Perrett.
CoMA Sussex Ensemble with former Music Director, Steve Dummer. Photo Will Perrett. 

About us

Founded in 2005 by local composer, Patrick Harrex, we’re an instrumental group, directed by Lucy Callen, that rehearses once a month on a Sunday afternoon in the Brighton area 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 two videos of us playing, made by independent film maker, John Crix, and sound engineer, François DeVille:

Pachamama by Diego Monsalve  8:23

Open by Guy Richardson  5:35

CoMA Sussex in rehearsal. Photo John Crix and West44 Productions.
CoMA Sussex in rehearsal. Photo John Crix and West44 Productions.

Past events

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 The Sinking of the Titanic at Southampton Guildhall.

You can hear some of our earlier performances here.

2018 to 2019

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 their composers, together with pieces by members of our ensemble. Out of this, came an exciting video collaboration with John Crix and François DeVille in summer 2019.

2019 to 2020

In October 2019, we gave a 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 relating to the visual arts, including two world premieres. In November, we played as part of the Adur Arts Live festival in the lovely Norman Church of St Mary de Haura in Shoreham-by-Sea.

Our big achievement in March 2020 was a weekend of contemporary music making at St Mary’s Church, in Brighton’s Kemp Town, as part of CoMA’s Festival of Contemporary Music for All 2020. Other amateur musicians joined us to rehearse and perform alongside members of professional contemporary music group, The Riot Ensemble. Four public concerts featured pieces written specially for our ensemble and for the festival.

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

2022

In March 2022, we returned to performing for the first time since the Covid pandemic started. We enjoyed a fantastic day sharing our passion for contemporary music with Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) music students for the Festival of Contemporary Music for All 2022. We were led by composer and conductor, Lucy Callen. The day took a workshop approach and culminated in a concert. BHASVIC students and staff impressed us with their energy and enthusiasm.

We were delighted that John Crix joined us again, this time bringing video material he’d developed to complement some of our pieces. The approach was entirely new: special software allowed John to manipulate and transform his film sequences in real time to be displayed as an organic part of a performance. In so doing, he entered the world of flexible tempo and improvisation. ‘My laptop is becoming yet another instrument in the ensemble,’ said John, ‘and, like the other players, I’m learning to be alert to signs and cues from our conductor and the instrumentalists around me.’

CoMA Sussex, the Riot Ensemble and friends, March 2020. Photo Aaron Holloway-Nahum.
CoMA Sussex, the Riot Ensemble and friends, March 2020. Photo Aaron Holloway-Nahum.

Future plans

Looking forward to 2023… future plans and concerts

We’re preparing three exciting concerts for 2023 under our new director, Lucy Callen. These will include music by Phil Baker, Hannah Kendall, Tansy Davies, Gregory Rose, Lucy Callen, Michael Finnissy, Elspeth Brooke, Diego Monsalve, and Lluís Nadal, plus others. Watch this space for more details!

Rehearsals

We meet once a month on a Sunday, starting at 2:30 p.m. Our rehearsal venue is the Recital Room at the University of Sussex (just south of the Students’ Union shop in Falmer House). We intend to keep the room well ventilated so please dress warmly when the weather is cool.

These are the rehearsal dates for Spring 2023:

  • 15 January
  • 12 February
  • 12 March
  • 23 April

Music Director

Lucy Callen joined the CoMA Sussex Ensemble as Music Director in October 2022.

A London-based composer-conductor, Lucy writes orchestral, chamber and choral works, and music for theatre, opera and dance. Her music has been performed at Vale of Glamorgan, Cheltenham, Aberystwyth and Dartington festivals, and often draws on early music and folksong.

Lucy is a pianist and composer-in-residence at Middlesex Dance School. She is Musical Director of Harrow Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, One Tree Hill Choir, Contemporary Music For All (CoMA) Sussex Ensemble, and City Wind Orchestra.

She is completing her Master’s in Composition on a full scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music.

Check out Lucy’s website and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Lucy Callen conducting. Photo Bloomsbury Festival/Stuart Keegan.
Lucy Callen conducting. Photo Bloomsbury Festival/Stuart Keegan.

Membership

For 2023 starting from January, membership of CoMA Sussex costs:

  • £80 for the year (£58 concessions), paid up-front,
  • £10 per month by standing order (£7.50 concessions)
  • £15 per rehearsal (£11 concessions).

Members must also become a CoMA national Ensemble Member (monthly subscription £3 standard, £2 concessions.

Interested in attending a free taster session to see if this is for you? Email Karen at sussex@coma.org and we’ll be in touch. All instruments are welcome!

Contacts

  • Music Director: Lucy Callen
  • Chair: Lluís Nadal
  • Secretary: Karen Butcher

Contact Karen at sussex@coma.org if you would like to join the ensemble or would like more information about us.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Upcoming events

no current events