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Overview

Mr Matthew McCullough

BA (Hons) MA (Dunelm)


Affiliations
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Member of the Department of Music  

Biography

At Present, I am a PhD candidate in Musicology researching British composers' responses to World War One and the ways in which their work helped shape a collective and cultural memory of the war. I am particularly interested in music's relationship with death, grief, trauma, and remembrance. Supervised by Professor Jeremy Dibble, Professor Bennett Zon, and Professor Julian Horton, my research is generously funded by a Van Mildert College Trust PhD Scholarship and The Finzi Friends have made a munificent contribution to research expenses. I currently hold a DCAD Fellowship (2021-23) and am delighted to be affiliated with The Centre for Death and Life Studies.

Originally from Ireland, I took up a place to read music at Durham University on a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship in 2016 with a Choral Scholarship at Durham Cathedral. As an undergraduate I was Director of Music at Hatfield College and Director of Music and President of The Dunelm Consort and Players, whilst also undertaking further freelance work. I graduated in July 2019 with first class Honours and a first-class dissertation. In 2020, I completed my Masters in Musicology, graduating with distinction, a faculty award, and a distinction for my dissertation research on the music of Ernest John Moeran. 

My broad research specialism lies in British and Irish music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the interdisciplinary realms of death, trauma, and memory studies. In 2019 my research on Gerald Finzi’s Dies Natalis won first prize in the British Music Society’s 40th anniversary essay competition, my reconstruction of the final verses of Mozart's Miserere were performed by Newcastle Cathedral Choir on Ash Wednesday and in Holy Week 2021, and in May of the same year I organised the conference: 'Music, Mortality, and Ritual.' I have recently also organised a second conference on 'Music, Monuments, and Memory.'

Current writing projects include a chapter on 'Musico-funerary Rhetoric' for a new edited volume Embodying the Music and Death Nexus: Consolations, Salvations and Transformations published by Emerald (forthcoming 2022) and an article on the spirituality of Sir Arthur Bliss for an special journal Issue on 'Music and Spirituality' in Religions. Alongside my current research focus, I enjoy maintaining a wider interest in the field with a particular enthusiasm for the life and music of Gerald Finzi, manuscript editing and performance, and harmony and counterpoint.

Beyond my research, I sing as a Lay Clerk and undertake work as a freelance musician throughout the North East. Recent engagements have involved being guest soloist for The English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble and The Durham Singers, and conducting 'Opera By The Lake with Sir Thomas Allen,' for which I was awarded an Associate Fellowship of Van Mildert College

I am delighted to be a part of such a lively and intellectually ambitious community of scholars here at Durham. I always welcome enquiries into research and/or performance collaborations from students, staff, those beyond the institution and, indeed, the academy, so do feel free to get in touch. I can be reached through the link above.

Conference Organisation

Music, Mortality, and Ritual, Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, 15 May 2021

Music, Monuments, and MemoryCentre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, 13 November 2021

Conference Papers

'Tone and Tonality: Performing Social Values in British Post-War Musical Commemoration', Music, Mortality, and Ritual, Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, United Kingdom, 15 May 2021

'Requiem for a Dream — Universality, Sonic Death Ritual, and Associative Symbolism in Sir Arthur Bliss' Morning Heroes', 57th Royal Musical Association Annual Conference, Newcastle University, United Kingdon, 14-16 September 2021

'Sounding the Architecture of Grief: Requiem, Rhetoric, and Embodied Ecperience', Music, Monuments, and Memory,Centre for Death and Life Studies, Durham University, United Kingdom, 13 November 2021

‘A Sodality of Dionysus: The Elizabethan Legacy of the Eynsford Cottage Period in Ernest Moeran’s Large-Scale Works’, BFE/RMA Research Students’ Conference, University of Plymouth 6-8 January 2022

Research interests

  • 19th- and 20th-Century British and Irish Music and Culture
  • Music and World War One
  • Death, Ritual, and Memory
  • Music and Trauma
  • Harmony and Counterpoint

Esteem Indicators

  • 2021: DCAD Fellowship:
  • 2021: RMA Oldman Grant:
  • 2020: Associate Fellowship of Van Mildert College:
  • 2020: Van Mildert College Trust PhD Scholarship:
  • 2019: 1st Prize - British Music Society 40th Anniversary Essay Competition:

Publications

Chapter in book

  • McCullough, Matthew (2022). Sounding the Architecture of Grief: Requiem, Rhetoric, and Embodied Experience. In Embodying the Music and Death Nexus: Consolations, Salvations and Transformations. Bennett, Marie, Levy, Gary & Shadrack, Jasmine Emerald Publishing.

Journal Article

  • McCullough, Matthew (2021). Cecil Gray: The Last Romantic. British Music: The Journal of the British Music Society 42(1): 1-16.
  • McCullough, Matthew (2019). A History and Analysis of Gerald Finzi's Dies Natalis. British Music: The Journal of the British Music Society 41(2019/1): 40-57.