A different kind of urban

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Open University Choir choral première: A different kind of urban

23 November 2017, 1pm-2pm, The Hub Theatre, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

The Open University Choir continues its celebration of MK50 with the world première of a new piece which its members and friends have commissioned for the 50th birthday of Milton Keynes. A different kind of urban will have the potential to engage, stimulate or challenge anyone who knows Milton Keynes, whether as a resident, employee or visitor, and whether they love or loathe the new town. 

The lyrics of A different kind of urban have been written by Judi Moore, author, poet and longstanding resident of Milton Keynes and are specifically about the new town, its recent and deeper history, its geography, diversity and culture. Her text is set to music by composer and Open University Associate Lecturer in Music, Liz Lane, whose compositions span many different genres with performances in the UK and abroad, and whose Antiphonary for brass and percussion is also included in the concert. Music by Claudio Monteverdi and Raffaella Aleotti completes the programme.

Pre-concert discussion: Creating A different kind of urban
As well as being part of the official MK50 celebrations, the concert has also been included in the Being Human festival programme which the Open University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is organising. This is a national venture for showcasing research in the humanities, and as part of this festival, there will be a pre-concert event from 11.30am–12.10pm in which lyricist Judi Moore, composer Liz Lane and conductor Bill Strang discuss with OU Choir member Stephen Potter, how A different kind of urban was conceived, researched and developed.

The pre-concert discussion begins at 11.30am and ends at 12.10pm and will take place in the Hub Theatre area. The concert begins at 1pm.

Both these events are free and open to all but because of limited seating, admission is by ticket only.

How to reserve your tickets

You will need to reserve separate tickets for each event, and show tickets to gain entry. Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the start of each event.

Book tickets for the concert at:

 Book tickets for the pre-concert discussion at::

Please note: If you are a wheelchair user please book tickets and email us at openuniversitychoir@gmail.com to let us know you will be attending so we can ensure that an appropriate space is reserved for you. You will also need a ticket for anyone who accompanies you.

UPDATE 15 November.  Bookings reached the limit of tickets available last weekend but  we have been able to release a few more tickets today. Tickets are going very quickly so you are advised to book youtr ticket as soon as possible.  If you are on the waitlist you will be contacted by email and will need to book within the allotted time.  

Tickets are still available for the pre-concert discussion.


The OU Choir and Milton Keynes musical tradition

Based at the OU headquarters at Walton Hall, the Open University Choir was formed in the 1970s in the early days of the new town, its now 70-strong membership always consisting of both university staff and external members from the local community.

The choir has been active in the wider community for many years, performing at The Stables and collaborating with Milton Keynes City Orchestra to perform Handel’s Messiah in 1997 as part of Voices for Hospices and Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony in 2009 for the 40th Anniversary of the OU. More recently, it has been involved in local projects such as the restoration of the historic Willis organ in St Mary and St Giles Church in Stony Stratford, to which it has contributed performances and concert proceeds. In June 2017 the OU Choir organised a performance of Thomas Tallis’s 40-part motet Spem in alium in SMSG with three other local choirs .

The choir’s reputation for inventive programming, from Renaissance to modern, from mainstream to the curious, reflects the vitality of musical activity of all kinds in Milton Keynes, which can boast an astonishingly rich diversity of choral and music theatre groups for such a young community. But this itself has drawn on a musical tradition which thrived in the area long before the development of the new town, for example, the regular oratorio performances in Wolverton from the 1920s, inspired by the Institute of Science and Arts and supported by the railway works.

The tradition was reinforced in the new town with regular commissions for the February Festivals in the early 1980s. The Living Archive, which collects and shares the history and heritage of Milton Keynes, commissioned several short choral pieces for The Fabric of Milton Keynes in 1994, which it invited the OU Choir to premiere. In the same year, the choir itself commissioned a larger-scale work with soloists and orchestra, Ritual Spells, from the talented local composer, John Byron, to mark the University’s 25th birthday.

The Open University Choir continues this living tradition of celebratory music-making by commissioning and performing this new choral work A different kind of urban to mark the fiftieth birthday of Milton Keynes.