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Education

Pioneering heads to Aberystwyth University

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Drawing inspiration from Japanese ceramic collection: Toshimaru Nakamura

JAPANESE works from Aberystwyth University’s renowned ceramics collection are set to provide the inspiration for an experimental music project led by a leading Japanese sound artist.

Toshimaru Nakamura, described as one of the most important electronic composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, will spend a week working in Aberystwyth at the beginning of March 2018.

The ceramics collection at the School of Art features works from contemporary Japanese ceramicists, along with earlier medieval works of mythological figures.

Working with experimental musicians Jenn Kirby, Dafydd Roberts, Andrew Leslie Hooker and Aberystwyth born harpist Rhodri Davies, Nakamura will use these pieces to develop an object score as a basis for an improvised musical performance.

An additional dimension to the sonic recipe will be provided by Dr Fred Labrosse from the Department of Computer Science who will scan the selected ceramics.

The data gleaned from the scans will be fed into software that will convert their physical attributes into a series of sounds for making music.

Through this process, ceramic glaze, depth and luminosity can give rise to unexpected tonalities affecting pitch, amplitude and timbre.
The group will also spend time working in a recording-studio.

This part of the project will be documented by film maker Dr Greg Bevan from the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies and shown at the 2019 Aberystwyth International Ceramics Festival.

The ceramics chosen by Nakamura and his collaborators will also go on show in the Arts Centre’s ceramics gallery in March 2018.

The project will culminate with Nakamura’s Welsh debut performance – Listen to the Voice of Fire at Ceredigion Museum on Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 7.30pm.

The public performance will follow a project workshop with Nakamura at the Foundry Studio in the Parry Williams Building on Friday, March 9, 11am – 1pm (free admission).

Open to students and the wider community, this will be a rare opportunity to see Nakamura’s approach at close hand. Anyone with an interest in contemporary electronic music is warmly encouraged to attend this free event.

“Presenting a premier Japanese experimental sound artist to new audiences in mid and west Wales will be thrilling,” said Dr Roberts, “and give confidence to the emerging Wales Sound Network to develop international links with Japan, a country with longstanding dynamism in experimental music.

“We have an opportunity now to develop new links with Japanese artists and academic and arts worlds and potential in future to develop this into funded projects to extend mutual understanding and activity.”

Nakamura’s visit to Wales has been made possible through financial support from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and the Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation.

Dr Roberts added: “Both these funders recognise how hard it is to bring stellar performers to centres outside of large conurbations.”
Listen to the Voice of Fire works is staged in partnership with Ceredigion Museum.

Nakamura’s instrument is the no-input mixing board, which describes a way of using a standard mixing board as an electronic music instrument, producing sound without any external audio input.

Nakamura pioneered this approach to the use of the mixing board in the mid 1990’s and has since then appeared on over one hundred audio publications, including nine solo CD’s.

He has performed throughout Europe, North America, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Korea, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing and recording both as a soloist and in collaboration with numerous other musicians.

As an active organizer of concerts in Tokyo, Nakamura has helped many musicians to travel to Japan and find places to perform, both with himself and with others.

From 1998 to 2003 Nakamura and Tetuzi Akiyama ran the concert series Improvisation Series at Bar Aoyama and then later the Meeting at Off Site series of concerts.

Education

WRU and unis combine on degree

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New degree launched: Students will gain hands on coaching skills

THE WELSH R​UGBY UNION (WRU), University of South Wales (USW), Cardiff Blues, and the Dragons have launched a new Foundation Degree in Rugby Coaching and Development which will combine study with practical experience to enhance students’ employability.

The two-year blended learning course will ensure the students gain hands-on coaching skills as part of the Dragons or Cardiff Blues community rugby teams while working towards a valuable qualification at USW.

The course is ideal for individuals who wish to work in the ever-expanding rugby industry, either as a coach, or as a member of staff working within communities developing and delivering sports initiatives.

On completion of the Foundation Degree course, students can progress on to a third year of studies to achieve a BSc (Hons) degree in Rugby Coaching and Performance.

The course allows students to study all sub-disciplines of coaching and gain valuable industry-recognised qualifications and will teach students aspects of children and youth coaching, rugby coaching, rugby development, social inclusion and sports management skills.

Paul Rainer, Head of Sports Science and Sports Coaching at the University of South Wales said “This is an excellent initiative and the collaboration between the University, WRU and the regions will provide the next generation of community coaches in Wales to support the development of the game at grass-roots level.”

“The course provides flexibility in how the student will study and provides an opportunity for the student to develop their vocational skills within the Dragons or Blues community programmes whilst working towards their Welsh Rugby Union Level 1 and 2 coaching certificates and working towards a degree qualification.”

WRU Head of Rugby Participation Ryan Jones said, “We are determined to continue to invest in coaches to safeguard the future of our game. This partnership is a great example of that, with key partners working together for the good of the students and the game.”

WRU Community Coach Development Manager Gerry Roberts added: “The rugby industry is a growing one and it is important that this course aligns the academic study of coaching with vital skills that can only be gained on the ground, working within the regional community teams on all aspects of community rugby.”

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Education

University nominated for LGBT+ Award

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Delighted to fly the flag: Ruth Fowler, Equality Officer, Aberystwyth University

ABERYSTWYTH U​NIVERSITY has been nominated for a public sector equality award at the 2018 PinkNews Awards.

The nominations were announced at a special PinkNews event held in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on ​June 7.

Aberystwyth is the only Welsh university and one of three institutions from Wales on the longlist of 21 public sector organisations throughout the UK.

The award aims to recognise the contributions of public sector organisations in championing the inclusion and rights of LGBT+ employees and those in the wider community.

A panel of judges will decide the winner, which will be announced at the PinkNews Awards in London on October 17, 2018.

Ruth Fowler, Equality Officer in the Department of Human Resources at Aberystwyth University, said: “We are delighted that Aberystwyth University is flying the flag for the Welsh higher education sector in these important awards. Equality and diversity are embedded across the University. We have a range of policies and positive action plans in place to ensure Aberystwyth is an inclusive and forward-thinking place to work and to study for all, including an LGBT network for staff as well as a series of high-profile LGBT events.”

The annual PinkNews Awards has become one of the UK’s most significant LGBT+ events, championing the efforts of politicians, campaigners, charities, businesses, public sector organisations, broadcasters and journalists in the fight for equality for all.

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Education

WG backtracks on uniform grant

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Kirsty Williams: 'Climbdown' claim on pupil grants

PARENTS in Wales will soon be able to access a new £1.7m fund to help cover the cost of school uniforms, school sports kit and for wider activities such as scouts and guides and sports outside of school.

The new fund, announced by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams, will also cover equipment for activities within the curriculum, such as design and technology.

In addition, parents will also be able to access funding for equipment for out of school hours trips, including outdoor learning.

The new fund, which will be in place ahead of the new academic year in September, will become another element of the Pupil Development Grant (PDG) and will be known as PDG – Access.

As well as making funding available for new uniforms and activities both in and outside the classroom, PDG – Access will be available to a wider range of pupils than the previous School Uniform Grant and attract a higher per pupil funding level of £125.

For the first time, learners in both Reception and Year 7, who are eligible for free school meals will fall within scope of the funding. Unlike the previous school uniform grant, all looked after children in these year groups will also be covered.

As with the previous scheme, the funding will be distributed via local authorities. The Welsh Government has worked with local authorities to develop the grant and will continue to do so to make sure that the funding is being used effectively and that good practice is being shared amongst schools.

Announcing PDG-Access today, Kirsty Williams said: “Reducing the attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers is at the heart of our national mission to raise standards.

“The Pupil Development Grant has already been described as “invaluable” by schools. PDG – Access will allow us to go that step further in supporting our disadvantaged learners to reach their full potential and narrowing the attainment gap between those learners and their peers.”

In addition to the grant, further consideration is also being given to current non-statutory school uniforms guidance and how it can be strengthened.

Commenting, Shadow Education Secretary, Darren Millar, said: “This announcement amounts to an embarrassing climb-down from the Minister, and comes after a huge backlash from all corners.

“Make no mistake, the Education Secretary has been forced into doing the right thing.

“We warned that scrapping the grant would hit the poorest pupils the hardest and thankfully the Welsh Government has seen sense.

“Labour’s bonfire of education grants is causing huge concern amongst parents and teachers alike, and this u-turn is a sad indictment of the Welsh Government’s mismanagement of its resources.”

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