Dr Helen Mitchell

Dr Helen Mitchell – Project Team Leader

Helen Mitchell has a multidisciplinary background in music, as a singer, music scholar and music performance researcher and her research is situated at the intersection between music practice and scientific discovery. She graduated in music from the University of Oxford in 2000 and moved to Sydney to undertake doctoral studies at the Conservatorium of Music in 2001. From 2004-5, she was Dean of Students at The Women’s College within the University of Sydney.

Listeners’ perception of sound quality is central to Helen’s music performance research. Her PhD research defined and examined a major pedagogic singing technique, the “open throat”, by matching expert pedagogues’ descriptions and perceptions of sound quality to established acoustic measures of voices. A series of studies confirmed that listeners were the most effective and reliable assessors of sound quality but also suggested that current acoustic methods were limited in defining vocal quality.

From 2005, Helen was Australian Postdoctoral Fellow in an ARC funded study and conducted a longitudinal study of music training, tracking singers through the duration of a tertiary degree and mapped perceptual and acoustic changes in their vocal quality to their acquisition of technical mastery.

Her current work investigates how listeners recognise and describe individual performers’ sound identities. She first examined the impact of verbal overshadowing on listeners’ perception of performers. Two studies confirmed that the act of verbal description, or putting a sound “into words”, is not only essentially uninformative, but actually distorts listeners’ memory and subsequent recall of the original performer (Mitchell & MacDonald 2011; 2012). Results also indicated that listeners are surprising unreliable at recognising individual performers by sound alone. She is now investigating how listeners ‘hear’ music performers to see to what extent audiences integrate audio and visual information to identify individual performers (Mitchell & MacDonald in press; in review).

At SCM, Helen convenes Postgraduate and Honours Research Methods courses and takes graduate seminars in empirical music studies and research ethics. She is Performance Honours Coordinator and also supervises Honours, Masters, DMA and PhD students in their research projects in music performance.

Dr Lotte LatukefuDr Lotte Latukefu – Project Team Member

Dr Lotte Latukefu is a Lecturer and Researcher in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts at the University of Wollongong. She holds a PhD in Music Education from the University of Wollongong, Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music (NY) and a Bachelor of Music from the ANU School of Music.

Collaborative Learning in Music, in particularly singing, has been a particular research interest of Lotte’s for about seven years. Lotte’s PhD thesis examined the work of Lev Vygotsky and socio-cultural theorists who have followed, in order to address questions concerning the nature of learning singing in collaborative settings. Her Doctoral thesis demonstrated that there is a rich resource of learning to be found in the way that students interact with each other and learn from each other.

Forming a nexus to this research is Lotte’s own creative practice as a mezzo-soprano. Her practice-led research is concerned firstly with developing a canon of Australian contemporary art song that is influenced by Asia and the Pacific, and secondly, experimenting with different kinds of folk music such as Klezmer, Gypsy, Balkan and Italian in order to extend the genre known as Australian Folk Music. Lotte is a member of The Con Artists Community Gypsy Orchestra and Zumpa (Italian folk band).

More recently, Lotte has been investigating the notions of developing resilience in creative arts students through collaborative learning. Her research expands upon the questions of resilience to include questions about the health and well being of community music facilitators and what the impact of long-term casual employment and low wages has on their perceptions of well-being.

Roger BenedictRoger Benedict – Project Team Member

Roger Benedict’s wide-ranging career has encompassed work as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral player, teacher and conductor. He was principal viola of the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, from 1991-2000 and since 2002 has been principal viola of the Sydney Symphony. Roger taught at the Royal Northern College of Music from 1997-2002. In addition to to his teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium, Roger also is a tutor to the European Union Youth Orchestra and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Fellowship Program, Australasia’s leading professional training program for musicians.

As a viola soloist, Roger Benedict has appeared with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Ulster Orchestra in the UK, as well as the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa in Japan. With the Sydney Symphony, he has performed Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in 2002, 2004 and 2010, Berlioz’s Harold in Italy in 2005 and 2012, Andrew Ford’s The Unquiet Grave in 2007 and Vaughan-Williams’ Flos Campi in 2009.

As both recitalist and chamber musician Roger has appeared at London’s Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room, and his chamber music partners have included such musicians as Lorin Maazel, Sir Simon Rattle, Louis Lortie and Leif Ove Andsnes. In Australia, he performs widely as a chamber musician and guest with such groups as the Tinalley String Quartet and Sydney Soloists. Roger’s debut recital CD Volupté (Melba Recordings) with music by Charles Koechlin and Joseph Jongen was greeted with considerable critical acclaim and selected as one of the ten best recordings of 2010 by www.theclassicalreview.com. His recording of Vaughan Williams’ Flos Campi with the Sydney Symphony was released by the same label in 2011.

Alongside his career as an instrumentalist, Roger has conducted orchestras at the Sydney Conservatorium and the Australian National Academy of Music and regularly conducts concerts with the Sydney Symphony Fellowship Ensemble and Orchestra. In the UK, he has conducted the National Youth Orchestra in London and Aldeburgh. For the Sydney Symphony, he has conducted the Playerlink program and schools concerts and will conduct subscription concerts with them in 2013. He has also appeared in New Zealand with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Roger is an active editor and arranger; recent publications include viola transcriptions of works by Schubert and Mozart for Partitura-Verlag. He also writes regularly for journals such as The Strad.

Dr John R. Taylor – Technical Support Member

John R. Taylor is a researcher, composer, programmer and interactive media designer whose interests include music cognition, computation, percussion, and interactive and computer music.

John holds a PhD in Composition (Sydney Conservatorium of Music), an MA in Sonic Arts (Middlesex, UK), a Graduate Certificate in Innovation & Enterprise (Sydney), and a BA (Hons) in Music Industry Management (BNU, UK). John has taught Interactive Media and Sound Installations, Sound Recording, and Music Business Skills at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Digital and Music Technology subjects at the school of Humanities and Communications Arts at Western Sydney University.

As a composer, John has had works performed at conferences and festivals in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australasia. John has also received recognition for his involvement in the design of interactive systems for large audiovisual installations that have featured in International Arts and Lights festivals.

John’s PhD research in computer music, examined the imperfections in music performance that lead to micro-timbral and micro-temporal performance variation. His latest compositional software application, the PD-103, is an interactive percussive performance modeller designed using the physics of musical instruments, and uses biomechanical performance data from live performance.