EDI ‘The Collection’ an artistic response

To mark the launch of the Centre for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Arts (CEDIA), Royal Birmingham Conservatoire celebrates the diversity of its students, through commissioning a collection of six artistic responses to various aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Six students have created powerful videos on the topics of diversity and inclusion.

The participating students are:

Gabriella Liandu

Gabriella Liandu is a Zambian-Scottish singer, currently studying under Sara Coleman and Noemi Nutti on the Jazz Masters course at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Alongside her Masters degree, she continues to study under Yvonne Sandison, as she recently completed her Bachelor Honours Degree, training as a Mezzo-Soprano on the Vocal and Operatic course. For more information on Gabriella, please visit https://www.gabriellaliandu.com/

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[00:00:05] Gabriella Hi, my name is Gabriella Liandu, and this is my piece Accept the Clouds. I wrote this piece as a reminder to not criticise myself whilst being creative. And one of the ways that this piece connects to diversity and the whole concept of diversity is the way that it represents how I have allowed myself to have freedom in music and freedom in my expression. And I'm a big believer in the fact that your voice is your own and you have all the power to unlock different parts of your voice, and you can do with it what you choose. So part of my existence and the way that I like to embody how I move about the music world is allowing myself to go into different spaces, unexpected spaces and perform unexpected music. And I do opera. I do jazz. I sing choral music. I do a plethora of different things. And although people say, you know, you have to choose just one thing, this is my way of accepting that it's okay to explore all the different passions and things you enjoy.

[00:01:40] Gabriella Gabriella performs her piece, Accept the Clouds.

Lele Samms

Lele has just completed her second year as an Applied Theatre student.  Lele lives in Birmingham and purposefully hasn’t given her piece a title as she wants her words to speak for themselves. Lele lives with Cerebral Palsy and is passionate about arts in health and arts therapy.

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[00:00:03] Lele Samms Let's take the time to appreciate that we live in a world that allows us to learn, to develop and grow in whatever capacity that might be. Faith, for example, represents people having genuine intentions and guidance on how to live their life, and how the experience is different for different people. The purity of life is, ultimately, happiness. We have been conditioned by natural and uncontrollable to our sports to protect our hearts. Well, in doing this, it's almost as if we have allowed things we can't control to only hurt us so much. The issues that influence people into behaving in ways that are also simply incorrect. This has created another world that will encourage people to think about themselves first and foremost, to the point whereby, if you do not do this, it's seen as a self-esteem issue. Someone, one and two are based on things that have not impact us the way that they do. We deserve to be free from not being apathetic in order for people to take us seriously and respect us. We can do this - it's already in us. We have to nurture that part of ourselves out. This will very naturally be shared with those around us. I believe, deep down, we know that certain things are important. But when we show kindness and love towards ourselves and it's not reciprocated, it is very painful, to the point where instead of living a peaceful life, we anticipate negative outcomes and retaliate for what we think is going to happen to us if we share kindness. Bad mindsets and behaviours do not rely on trust, patience or anything that would put you in that position to feel let down. The reality, I believe, is seen as an all-new l'Est fairy tale, and some people think that this mindset is a result of being vulnerable adult. Being a nice person should not be seen as a requirement, but rather a natural way of life.

Lucy Samuels

Lucy Samuels currently studies at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Matthew Sharp as her teacher. She makes her concerto debut in 2022 with the RBC Projects Orchestra with Michael Nyman’s Double Concerto for Amplified Saxophone and Cello, alongside fellow student Nicole Micheli. Lucy has a particular interest in performing works by composers from under-represented backgrounds and those works that are underplayed in the repertoire. Her work as a cellist is far-reaching, encompassing outreach and educational programmes, orchestral work and chamber music. She currently plays with both the Félicité Piano Trio and Infinite Opera Company as their regular cellist, alongside enjoying freelance work.

Here she performs Parasitism, Prostitution or Negation.

Emmeline Hartley

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[00:00:03] Emmeline Hartley She would always wonder how she could be one track-minded and yet so unfocused at the same time, but there she was, unable to shift her sights to something else with no other interest in literally anything else but the slightest sound, the smallest movement, the tiniest reminder of a chore. And she was off bounding out the door of her mind, only to find she had a hard time getting back in again, which made her cross with herself. She would flap, slap and cry, rock herself and agonise over the hows and whys she could hear, but not listen. Is it all part of the condition or is she distant by design? And God, was she impatient? It was so clear that she couldn't wait for anything. As soon as a thought entered her head, she bought into it. She caught the bug for it and saw nothing else. And if something stood in her way, she'd relentlessly fight all day and night to have a say until it took its hold around her, bound her, confusing her, consuming her. So she pushed everyone away, which she claimed was for the best. But in truth, she was obsessed with pleasing people because she couldn't stand the mess she found herself in when someone rejected her. She'd attempt to entertain but would overcompensate for the isolating pain that historically put a strain on sustaining friendships. When she spoke, it was the first time she'd heard the word spilling out with the worst timing and never rehearsed. No inner monologue, no filter, off kilter, abrupt and interrupting her own secrets erupting. She would open herself up like a door swinging wide, letting anyone in, because the more the merrier and the less likely they were to break her in or put up a barrier. And she was desperate to impress. So offer to help absolutely everyone with absolutely everything. She took so much on until the hours, the minutes, the seconds were gone from her day and she broke herself in any way, a broken brain that could only gain so much information in one day till it's full to the brim and nothing else will go in. And there's a malfunction in processing. She didn't sleep. Not a case of she couldn't or needn't, but she wouldn't because there's no damn time. Daily discoveries fail to become memories. She face time blindness, face blindness, things that remind us where we belong. So where did she belong? In her pit of exhaustion, paralysed with the light, scorching the insides of her eyes and the sounds of the TV competing with the screeching of next door's children aloud, eating it from the kitchen in time with a ticking clock. And then it stopped. Her mind drowned her and wound her so tight that her body couldn't compete. Always incomplete and unfulfilled. She didn't give up. She was killed by her shadow, taking the wheel, making her feel like she didn't have a real place in the world. She overcompensated, she feared, and she hated the idea she wouldn't succeed or plant her seed to leave behind a legacy. And now I'm looking down at her lying still on the sofa with her unwashed hair and the baggy clothes she's worn on her back since Tuesday. She's just lying there, not breathing, heart not beating with the world, carrying on like nothing's wrong. And I realise she is me. I'm looking at me in the near future. The creator, the producer who couldn't leave her computer for more than an hour, or switch off a brain in order to maintain some self care and find some light again. I look at me now and start to see how I'm burning myself out and I realise I need to stop.

Archie Augar

Archie is a recent graduate of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where he studied with Nikolaj Henriques, Gareth Twigg and Margaret Cookhorn. He also studied at Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag with Gretha Tuls, Jaap de Vries and Alban Wesly. He is about to embark on a Masters of Music at Det Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium in Copenhagen where he will be studying with Audun Halvorsen and Sebastian Stevenson.

A performer who strives for collaboration across borders, Archie has performed at some of the world’s finest concert halls such as the Royal Festival Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and TivoliVredenburg Utrecht. He has played principal bassoon for the RBC symphony orchestra, CBSO Youth Orchestra and holds the position of contrabassoon with the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra in London. He has worked with prestigious conductors including Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Kazuki Yamada, Cristian Măcelaru and Jac van Steen. Archie plays a Heckel 41i Crest with a CC1 XL bocal.

Visit www.archieauger.co.uk for more information.

View video transcription


[00:00:38] Archie Auger As a queer artist, I feel free, I feel that I don't need to hide. In the music that we play, in the tradition, queerness is kept away. It's never at the forefront. It's always hidden. Like Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky who composed this nocturne, it's locked away. Our overt queerness can't show. Why is that? Why does it have to be this way?

[00:01:41] Archie Auger I feel free. I feel that I don't need to hide. And that's because I'm surrounded by an Industry that supports queerness. And supports openness and freedom in artistic expression. It doesn't hold back your career aspirations or your artistry. It's not always been like this and it's not the same all across the world. Why is that?

[00:02:03] Archie Auger As a queer artist, I feel free. I feel like I don't need to hide. But we still have so much work that we need to do.

Bradley Wilson

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[00:00:04] Bradley Wilson Hi, I'm Bradley, and I'm one of the trumpet players in Wall Street brass. After the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer, we decided as a quintet it would be really important for us to start programming more music by black composers. Not only did we realise how important it is to do this, but it's also opened our eyes to a whole new world of music and a whole new style of playing. Unearthing this music is so important so that all anybody who comes to any concerts feels like they're completely included in everything that's going on, because there's so many different lives out there that have sort of been forgotten about, as well as the music that's also been forgotten about by societal prejudices through history. But now is a really exciting time for music and a really exciting time for the quintet, because we're now in a position where we can unearth this new music and bring it to the world. So as a quintet, we'd like to present Quinn Mason's three Solitude Chorales, three very different chorales that were actually designed as church pieces or warm up pieces for a brass quintet and come from a larger book of bigger chorals that Quinn Mason wrote Quinn Mason as an African-American composer in his early 30s. And we've all been in contact with him directly to get our hands on this piece. So, Quinn, I hope you enjoy this and I hope everyone watching this enjoys this, too.