Acoustronic is an ensemble brought together by Professor Frank Lyons at Ulster University in collaboration with key partners such as Share Music Sweden, Drake Music Project and Stravaganza, which aims to level the playing field in performance and composition for disabled musicians by developing new technologies and methodologies for their use.
In 2015 three partner organisations – Walled City Music, Drake Music and St. Magnus International Festival were one of just 14 consortia to receive funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to develop a pilot participatory project using Inclusive Creativity as its driving principle.
The pilot project brought together musicians and composers to research and develop participant-led routes into collaborative music making. Under the direction of Frank Lyons, an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled artists met regularly to improvise and compose music together in Derry / Londonderry, using AMT and more conventional musical instruments. The ensemble quickly established itself as ‘Acoustronic’ and within weeks was creating original music.
Members of the ensemble travelled to Orkney in September 2015 to join professional musicians and composers for a residential under the auspices of St. Magnus International Festival’s internationally acclaimed Composers’ Course.
In 2016 the project was selected by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to expand its scope, including a new commission for the joint forces of Acoustronic and Benyounes String Quartet; a tour of public performances and workshops; international collaboration and sharing of best practice and a continued focus on innovative ways of inclusive music-making. In 2017 Acoustromnic gave public performances in Derry/Londonderry (Walled City Music Festival), London (RichMix, Shoreditch) and Dublin (UCD).
Acoustronic was the only UK project to be invited to the Calouste Gulbenkian PARTIS Conference in January 2018 where they performed a new commission from Frank Lyons, ‘NonZeroSum’, and participated in interactive demonstrations of creative technologies and in discussions on inclusive creative practice.
Acoustronic is: Marie Anderson, Jay Hagon, Shaun Healy, John Lynch and David Meenan. Of the five ensemble members, four have learning disabilities ranging from autism to Asperger’s Syndrome, Down Syndrome, and Global Developmental Delay. A fifth member has severe physical disabilities.
The group is supported by researchers and composers associated with UIster University, including Denise White, whose work is focused on developing a gestural system for guiding musical improvisations by learning disabled musicians, and by Thelma Worthington, who is focusing on creative technologies in accessible environments. Ulster MMus student and professional musician Lewis Smith has been developing innovative software tools for disabled musicians. Smith’s Acoustronic and Wappic apps have been used in Lyons’ NonZeroSum and Smith’s own work for the ensemble, Galvanized, which has been performed in Dublin and Lisbon.
On 6th May 2018, Acoustronic will perform with myself, Darren Beckett, Scott Flanigan and Dave Redmond at the Derry Jazz festival. The peroformance will be held in the Great Hall, at the Magee campus of the Ulster University.
If you fancy a sneak peek, here we are devloping my new composition for this festival.