Opera Scotland

Semiotics, Post-structuralism and Leitmotifs 2016Wagner Society of Scotland

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Matt Sergeant: Rehearing Wagner: Semiotics, Poststructuralism and Leitmotifs

Leitmotifs are a series of audio signals or symbols in Wagner's narratives. They serve to signify literal or figurative presences - characters (living/non-living, human/non-human), concepts, places or ideas (&tc). Together they form a web of interrelated meanings that seemingly entwine together into something solid, external and structural. Something real. Maybe even something objective. But where is the listener in this model? Could we consider her as a passive 'viewer' of this system as it operates before her? Or does she herself act actively, as a 'participant' in a system? And how do words like 'intentionality' render themselves meaningful in such models? Is the composer's intention something perpetually 'resurrected' by and of a listening experience or does the listener actually construct it through and of herself?

By introducing modes of thought from twentieth century and contemporary continental philosophy (particularly Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze) this talk will attempt to offer attendees an alternative conceptual infrastructure whereby common assumptions regarding such frameworks as a Wagnerian leitmotivic structure might be problematised and maybe even challenged.

Matthew Sergeant's music is frequently performed throughout Europe, the USA, Asia and Australasia. His work has been commissioned and/or performed by leading international performers and ensembles including, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC Singers, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Divertimento Ensemble (Italy), ELISION (Australia), ensemble 10/10, ensemble plus-minus, EXAUDI and the Nieuw Ensemble (Netherlands).

Matthew's music has also featured at major international festivals, including the BMIC Cutting Edge Series (London, UK), Festival Musica (Strasbourg, France) and HCMF (Huddersfield, UK) and is regularly featured on the radio, both at home in the UK and abroadMatthew is also the recipient of a silver medal from London's Worshipful Company of Musicians and is a former member of the SPNM Composers' Shortlist.

Matthew studied composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester before being award a fully funded AHRC scholarship to read for his PhD at the University of Huddersfield, where he was supervised by Liza Lim and Bryn Harrison. Receiving his doctorate in 2013, his graduating thesis was awarded a vice-chancellor's prize for 'outstanding research'. Having previously lectured at the RNCM, Matthew is currently the manager of CeReNeM - the Centre for Research in New Music - at the University of Huddersfield, where he also teaches composition and orchestration. Matthew is based in Manchester, UK.


Non-members are welcome; a charge of £15 is made (£7 members) or pitch up and join. Meetings generally start at 7.30pm. See the Society website http://www.wagnerscotland.net/.

Performance DatesSemiotics, Post-structuralism and Leitmotifs 2016

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Edinburgh Society of Musicians | Edinburgh

24 Apr, 19.30

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