John Young

De Montfort Academic Wins Music Prize

Anthea Lipsett, The Guardian, 26 juillet 2007

An academic has won international acclaim for a piece of music he created about his parents’ courtship in Italy during the second world war.

John Young, reader in music technology at De Montfort University in Leicester, won first prize in a competition for electroacoustic music composition organised by the French Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges.

Dr Young’s winning radiophonic work, Ricordiamo Forlì, was created at DMU during research leave. It tells the story of his parents’ courtship towards the end of the second world war.

“My parents met in Forlì in central Italy in 1944: my mother an Italian civilian and my father an 8th Army soldier. Chaperoned by my grandmother, they met as often as they could, and on one of these occasions my mother’s life was probably saved, as that day she was to have visited her sister — whose apartment was destroyed by a bomb at that exact time,” he explained.

“The idea for this work grew out of my first visit to Forlì in 2002, when a lot of the emotional significance of that story resounded for me in an entirely new way. Hearing bells from churches around the city — audible across great distances — gave me a strong sense of experiencing the sounds as something resonant of the place and its history; that these sounds were voices from the past — something permanent, yet alive — evoking a sense of being touched by something that others had experienced with the same immediacy over many years and through dark, violent times,” he said.

He used sounds he recorded in Forlì along with historical broadcasts and war correspondence reports to amplify the wider context of the events, while his father narrated the story. The result is a narrative supported by music developed by digitally transforming many of the sounds into an expanded “surrealised soundscape”.

The work will be released later this year by Empreintes DIGITALes in Montréal.

… international acclaim for a piece of music he created about his parents’ courtship in Italy…