28th Jun, 2022

MUSIC MATTERS - Festival celebrating Delia Derbyshire returns for the fourth year

Coventry Editorial 27th Jan, 2022

Coventry Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.

THE annual festival of the life and work of Coventry-born musician and composer Delia Derbyshire returns for its fourth year.

Deliaphonic forms part of Coventry UK City of Culture’s ‘Amazing Women’ programme, shining a light on the influential and often under-recognised women. Though I must say Delia is never under-recognised at The Coventry Music Museum where we have a permanent display dedicated to her including some of her personal items.

It was also here that a campaign by the museum eventually saw a road named after Delia in Coventry. Maybe next year we can be part of this wonderful festival?

Deliaphonic will once again take place in her home city of Coventry, with events scheduled at Coventry Cathedral and The Tin Music and Arts – the two organisations which have organised the festival.

Normally scheduled in May to mark the anniversary of Delia Derbyshire’s birth, this year the festival takes place from March 3 to 6, just ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.

March also sees the City of Culture celebrate the city’s ‘Amazing Women’, with Derbyshire taking her rightful place in a line-up celebrating influential, and often under-recognised, women.

Born in Coventry in 1937, Delia Derbyshire was a musician and composer.

Hailed as the ‘unsung heroine of British electronic music’, Derbyshire oversaw and carried out pioneering work at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the 1960s and was considered a visionary in her use of sound and voice.

It took decades for Derbyshire to be recognised for her work, with the BBC’s standard practice at the time of crediting Radiophonic

Workshop for compositions by its staff. This not only denied her royalties, but also ensured she remained obscure despite her huge contribution to electronic music.

Aphex Twin, The Chemical Brothers and Paul Hartnoll of Orbital, all hail Derbyshire as having influenced their music.

Derbyshire’s work is inextricably bound up with the worlds of visual art and film, and she composed music for more than 200 radio and TV shows.

She is perhaps best known for her electronic arrangement of the theme music to the BBC’s Doctor Who, but her wide range of works ranges from compositions for art films with Yoko Ono to creating sound effects for contemporary theatre.

After Derbyshire’s death, over 250 tapes and a box of 1,000 papers of her work were found in her attic.

Paying homage to the breadth of Derbyshire’s wide-ranging work, Deliaphonic will see four nights of events, including film screenings, talks, live music, DJ sets, projections, performance art and sonic installations. It will include collaborations from Cosey Fanni Tutti / LoneLady / Julian House (Ghostbox Records) / Jerry Dammers Library Records DJ Set / Richard Norris / The Oram Awards present Loula Yorke and Natalie Sharp (Lone Taxidermist) / Nik Ramage / Caroline Catz / Bill Drummond.

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