My name is José Guillermo Puello.
I grew up in the Dominican Republic where I went to a French school. When I
finished school I came to the UK to study music at university. I recently
graduated with a PhD in Composition from the University of Manchester. My
research focused on the integration of Dominican music and culture with
European contemporary concert music. My thesis consisted of seven original
pieces of music, including works for orchestra, for small chamber ensemble, duets
and trios. I decided to pursue this area because I wanted my music to reflect
my background. As the research progressed, I became interested in how the
audience perceived the music and how I could integrate extra-musical elements
into my music.
When I started my undergraduate
degree, I never thought I was going to do a Master’s degree, let alone a PhD.
It was towards the end of my second year that I started to integrate Dominican
dance music (i.e. merengue) into my compositions. I continued to develop this
throughout my third year and my Master’s. As a result, my style became clearer
and my Masters supervisor suggested that I do the doctorate. These past four
years doing the PhD provided the opportunity to better define what I want my
music to be.
My doctoral research focused on
integrating Dominican cultural elements into my music, building strong musical
structures and developing my rhythmic language. To this effect, I researched
the music of other Latin American composers, such as Astor Piazzolla, Amadeo
Roldán, Tania León, Julio Alberto Hernandez, Alberto Ginastera and Leo Brouwer,
to evaluate how they incorporated Latin American elements into their music. I
also researched the music of other composers, such as Stravinsky, Birtwistle, Debussy,
Bartók, Berio and Ligeti, to understand how other composers dealt with rhythm,
folk music and the articulation of musical structures.
The act of composing is not just
writing notes on the page but also of listening, studying and problem-solving.
I don’t think I know of any composer that just sits down to write the music in
their head. I always compare composing to an architect designing a building. It
very often starts with a concept/idea that the composer/architect tries to
realise using the techniques they have developed and borrowing/adapting the
ideas and techniques of others.
During my PhD, my research into
Dominican culture mainly influenced the concept of the piece that I was
composing. For example, I wrote an orchestral piece based on a religious ritual
and another based on a Dominican poem. As I read about the Dominican Republic
and its history I realised that the fusion I was creating in my music could be
compared to the melting pot of cultures that shaped Dominican history. The
music, whilst taking inspiration in Dominican music, is closer in style to the
music of European composers (i.e. contemporary classical music) than to
merengue or salsa songs.
One of the most gratifying
aspects of being a composer is writing for and collaborating with other
talented musicians. I have been fortunate enough to have my music performed by
a number of professional and amateur ensembles, including Manchester Camerata,
Psappha, The Fourth Wall Ensemble and Quatuor Danel, in the UK, Europe, Canada,
USA and the Dominican Republic. Furthermore, each new piece brings its own
challenges, which provides the opportunity to keep learning and to keep
imagining new musical possibilities.
If you would like to know more
about the University of Manchester Music Department and the very active
Manchester University Music Society, you can visit the following websites:
You can visit my website: www.joseguillermopuello.com or listen to my music on soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/jgpuello
Below are some links to pieces
that I have listened to and studied as part of my PhD.
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
The video has a five-minute
Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino
Ligeti’s Trio for Violin, French
Horn and Piano
Juan Luis Guerra Todo tiene su
hora (merengue song)
Berio’s Sequenza III (for
Birtwistle’s Ritual Fragment
Messiaen’s Et exspecto
Debussy’s La mer
Brouwer’s El decameron negro
My name is Nicola and I’m currently in the second year of an
AHRC-funded PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. My A-levels were in
Spanish, French, History and Mathematics and in 2006 I went on to study Modern
and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge in Scotland.
As part of my first
degree, I spent a year living and working as a translator in the city of
Valparaíso in central Chile. After continuing at Cambridge to complete a
Masters degree in Latin American Studies (specialising in Film and Visual
Arts), I then moved to Manchester in 2011 where I trained and worked as a
secondary school Spanish teacher.
In 2013, I began my PhD in the department of Spanish, Portuguese
and Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester. My research
explores how films influence and reflect the relationship between humanity and
nature in the 21st century, with a particular focus on the
representation of natural landscapes in contemporary Chilean cinema.
Just over half of the world’s population now lives in cities and
this figure is expected to increase to around two-thirds by 2050. When so many
people live in urban environments, what does this mean for how we encounter and
experience nature in the 21st century?
For many of us, the film and television screen is an important
point of contact with the natural world. We watch nature documentaries, travel
programmes, adventure films and cartoon animals, through which we encounter
places, habitats and landscapes that we never experience in real life. The
vision of nature that we see on-screen doesn’t simply reflect our relationship
to nature; it also shapes it.
research looks at films produced in Chile, a country with one of the most
diverse and fascinating natural landscapes in the world. From north to south,
Chile is the longest country in the world, stretching from the world’s driest
desert in the north, through fertile agricultural valleys, chains of volcanoes
and ancient forests, to the frozen expanses of Antarctica in the South. This
huge natural diversity and geographical variety is reflected in its
contemporary cinema, which makes it an interesting and important body of films
for those of us interested in cinema and the natural environment.
central argument of my thesis is that analyses of cinematic landscapes can no
longer be confined to the landscape’s role as a symbol of national identity or
an allegory of some aspect of national history. Instead, natural spaces can be
more usefully discussed as “postnational landscapes”, which are marked by personal,
local and global forces as much as by national cultures.
expanding and refining approaches to landscape and nature in contemporary
cinema, my research contributes to a growing academic interest in how culture
influences our attitudes towards nature and how this impacts on the future of
humanity’s relationship with the planet.
updates about my research activities, follow me on Twitter: @nicolarunciman
watch new films by Chilean directors online, visit: http://www.cinepata.com/
English language reviews and articles on South American cinema, music and art: http://www.soundsandcolours.com/
find out what we’re up to in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin
American Studies, visit our blog: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas/
My name is Nicola and
I’m in the third year of a PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies. I did
A-levels in Spanish, English Literature and History and went on to study
Spanish at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, spending my year abroad in
the north of Chile. After returning to Chile for another year to teach English,
and then doing a Masters in Latin American Cultural Studies at the University
of Manchester, I began my PhD which looks at how members of the British public
engage with Latin American culture in the city of Manchester.
The first thing to
point out about studying Spanish (or any language) at university level is that
it’s not just about the language! While your language skills are obviously
important and will be developed, you will also spend lots of time studying
foreign cultures and how other people around the world live and express
themselves. This can involve studying literature, film, music, art, history,
religion and indigenous cultures. And, in the case of Spanish, you don’t just
study Spain, but also Latin America!
After doing my
undergraduate degree and Masters, and living in Chile, I found myself
particularly interested in how Latin America is perceived in Britain. Latin
American culture, such as salsa classes, music, food and films have become
popular in this country over the past couple of decades, yet Latin Americans are
a relatively small immigrant population in the UK and not many people travel
there, although both have started to increase in recent years. My research
therefore investigates how Latin American culture is produced in the city of
Manchester and how members of the public consume it.
My research focuses in
particular on the annual ¡Viva! Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the
Cornerhouse cinema. I analyse how the film festival is produced, the reasons
why they choose some films over others, why they choose particular images to
publicise the festival. By interviewing members of the audience, I can find out
whether these choices influence the way members of the audience envisage Latin
America, or if there are other factors to be considered, such as how the media
portrays Latin America. My research also investigates what attracts British
people to Latin American culture, especially whether it stems from a
cosmopolitan concern to understand others around the world, something
particular to Latin American culture and/or disenchantment with contemporary
British culture and society.
See what you think of the ¡Viva! film festival at
their website: http://www.cornerhouse.org/viva2014?no-redir
For information on studying Spanish, Portuguese and
Latin American Studies at the University of Manchester: http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/splas
For more information on Latin Americans in the UK,
you might like to read this report on the Latin American community in London: http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/latinamerican/48637.pdf