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Pioneering heads to Aberystwyth University



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.


New lease of life for rescue dog



Duke the dog: Complete with 3D printed leg

A DOG that could hardly walk has been given a new lease of life after a 3D printed leg was made for him by CBM, a research company established by UWTSD.

Rescue dog Duke, an Irish retriever, was born with a birth defect in his front right leg and faced having it amputated.

But he is now running around after Swansea printing firm CBM made him a leg similar to blades used by Paralympians.

New owner Phil Brown, from Bristol, said it had been ​’​life changing​’​.

When Duke was found abandoned by the Irish Retriever Rescue (IRR) charity in Ireland in 2016, his paw was deformed and he could not walk on all fours.

He was taken to the pound and rehomed with foster owners the Browns, who have since adopted him as their own as they could not bear to part with the loveable pooch.

After a massive fundraising campaign by the charity Duke has been fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthetic by CBM, after narrowly avoiding having his foot amputated.

His new owner said Duke, who is now three, was delighted by his new ​’​super leg​’​ which meant he was walking on four paws for the first time.

Mr Brown, who owns other dogs which Duke is enjoying playing with, said: “He had a very tough start in life.

“This is an absolute life changer for him, it really is. He can now walk on it, he can now run at a slow speed.”

Mr Brown said the three-dimensional leg was about a year in a making, and a few months down the line Duke is getting so much use out of it he has already had to have it refurbished.

The leg was entirely printed out of a machine apart from a rubber foot, some Velcro and foam at the top to make it more comfortable for Duke.

CBM product designer Benjamin Alport said creating Duke’s leg was a real challenge for the team, who worked with his new owner and a consultant orthopaedic surgeon on the design.

“We had to go down and assess Duke. We had to consider right down to the thickness of the hairs because you have to take into account the smallest things,” he said.

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Kellogg’s backs breakfast clubs



Improving attendance and attainment: Breakfast clubs

KELLOGG’S is celebrating 20 years of championing breakfast clubs by offering schools across the country the chance to get their hands on £1,000.

To mark the anniversary, the cereal giant will be giving a £1,000 grant away every school day of 2018.

Schools can apply for a Kellogg’s grant by visiting

The scheme marks the 20th anniversary of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club programme, which has provided £3 million of investment to schools and 70 million bowls of cereal since 1998.

Research shows that breakfast clubs help with everything from attendance and attainment to alleviating hunger and providing pre-school care.

They are a lifeline for many teachers as 68 per cent of teachers believe pupils would struggle to concentrate in class without their breakfast club, according to a report by Kellogg’s.

Kate Prince, from Kellogg’s, said: “We believe all children should have the opportunity to start the day with breakfast so we’re proud to have spent 20 years supporting so many schools across the UK.

“The £1,000 we’re offering in 2018 underpins our pride and continuing commitment to our breakfast club programme.”

Kellogg’s currently has 3000 schools signed up to its network, offering them a range of resources and provisions to help them operate sustainable and effective breakfast clubs.

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Former minister lectures on Facebook and democracy



Leighton Andrews: Raising questions about regulation

THE EVER increasing influence of social media on democracy will be the focus for a public lecture at Aberystwyth University on Thursday, March 22.

Facebook, The Media and Democracy will be delivered by Former Welsh Government Minister Professor Leighton Andrews of the Cardiff Business School.

Hosted by​ ​The Global Communications Research Centre and the Aberystwyth Law School, the lecture takes place at 4:10pm in the Main Hall of the Department of International Politics.

Facebook now has over two billion users across the globe and owns other key communication applications including Instagram and WhatsApp, giving it unprecedented market power.

It is a major player in shaping whole societies through its role in media dissemination, civic organization and as an electoral platform.

Professor Gary Rawnsley, Director of the Global Communications Research Centre and Professor of Public Diplomacy​,​ said: “We are looking forward to co-hosting the lecture with Aberystwyth Law School on such a hot topic. Facebook is constantly changing the face of politics, engagement and democracy at an unprecedented speed and arguments for and against regulation are evolving on a daily basis.

“The role of social media is changing the future of society and democracy, but following the recent controversy regarding ‘Fake News’ in the USA and UK, its dominance is under challenge from regulators and law-makers. The lecture will raise regulatory questions around big data and the internet platforms.”

Professor Leighton Andrews will be introduced by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University.

Professor Andrews is now Professor of Practice in Public Service Leadership and Innovation at Cardiff Business School.

He served as Minister for Education and Skills and Minister for Public Services in Carwyn Jones’s Welsh Labour Governments between 2009 and 2016, and Deputy Minister in Rhodri Morgan’s One Wales Government from 2007 until 2009, and was the Assembly Member for the Rhondda from 2003 until 2016.

Prior to his election to the National Assembly in 2003, Professor Andrews had a successful career in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and was the BBC’s Head of Public Affairs in London from 1993-1996, during its Charter Renewal campaign.

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