Nebula Music Festival 2020 goes online!

University of Lincoln Music Students organise an online music festival

Every year, third year music students at University of Lincoln organise Nebula Music Festival on the first bank holiday weekend of May. Usually held at LPAC, the students work all year to book music and musicians from across Lincolnshire, budget, fundraise and market the event.

This year, their contingency planning was robust: rain, fire, cancellations and no audience were all taken into account, addressed with solid risk assessments and strong marketing strategies. The plan did not, however, anticipate a global pandemic. Early March the 15-strong team took the rapidly evolving events in their stride, and was very quick to adapt. They decided to take the entire event online, streaming a full programme of music and talks on Saturday 2 May.

Jessica Tye-Leach, who will be graduating in September, says that “adapting to our new circumstances has been a challenge but as a team we have created an evolved Nebula Festival that will distract our audience from the outside world. I’m so impressed that we have stuck to our original time frame with everyone working so efficiently. We are even showcasing examples of our own degree work, which brings our university experience to a nice close”.

Jess Tye-Leech performs at Nebula Music Festival in 2018 – Photo by S L Hillman Photography and Video

Maintaining their focus on Lincolnshire talent as well as working on the themes of the environment and sustainability, the festival will include five different strands, all streamed simultaneously to increase the festival atmosphere. This includes the following:

  • Live performances by solo artists across the county,
  • Band music videos headlined by Happy Hunting who will participate in a live Q&A focusing on their recent music video releases,
  • Talk series by lecturers and local businesses as well as trivia talks selected through a competition by members of the public (2-5pm)
  • Digital arts and music showcase of UoL student work
  • Online radio soundtrack on mixcloud to get in the Nebula Music Festival Mood

Events will kick off at 2pm and will all be accessible for free through the main website page: Events will go on all afternoon until a 7:30pm close.

The headline act for Nebula Festival 2020 is Happy Hunting.

Josh Holder-Browne, part of the Nebula Festival team and in charge of social media marketing, underlined that “supporting local talent was of particular importance to us all. We agreed as a team that we should show our support through the crisis whether that be through showcasing their work or through asking them to still be involved within the festival”. The students made sure that all live acts would be paid, as they fundraised for artist fees before the lockdown.

Headline act Happy Hunting is “thrilled to have this opportunity to be involved in this online festival in such uncertain times”.

Any remaining fundraised money will be donated to three charities: Comic Relief, Rethink Mental Illness and Nottinghamshire’s Woman Aid.

The general public has the opportunity to participate in Nebula Festival by giving a 5-minute talk on the subject of their choice. These will be organised as a competition, with a £50 prize for the best talk. Full details are available on the

Senior lecturer Dr Cassandre Balosso-Bardin, who has been leading the module since 2017, says: “it is impressive how the students adapted to the new situation so quickly and came up with a new and exciting line-up to present to the world. It really shows their resilience and flexibility as well as how ready they are to enter the professional world. I couldn’t be prouder of them!”

Univerity of Lincoln Year 3 music students welcome you all to join Nebula Festival on 2 May for what is promising to be an afternoon full of creativity.

Nebula Music Festival in 2018 – Photo by Phil Crowe

Happy Hunting music video:

Twitter: @UniLincolnMusic
Twitter: @nebula_festival


Composition Workshop with the Ligeti Quartet

On Thursday 21 February 2019, University of Lincoln’s composition students had the opportunity to workshop their string quartet compositions with the widely acclaimed Ligeti Quartet. Second year music student Reece Mowlem writes about his experience.

As a second-year student taking the composition module, last Thursday I was lucky enough to have one of my pieces workshopped by the Ligeti Quartet, one of the UK’s leading string ensembles.  Beforehand I felt rather nervous, but the players were all incredibly friendly and quickly put my mind at ease.  For each student, they first played the piece through fully before offering some constructive feedback on how the work could be improved, as well as highlighting the aspects they particularly enjoyed.  The quartet also allowed us to ask them questions, giving us a chance to receive musical advice, often accompanied by demonstration, from some of the top industry professionals in their field.  At the end of the allotted fifteen minutes per student, the group then played the piece in full again, but applying the techniques and changes that had been recommended during the discussion.

I personally found the workshop incredibly helpful.  In just a short period of time I learnt copious amounts on how to write idiomatically for string instruments, as well as discovering some new extended techniques that I could use to improve my work.  The players were able to demonstrate these techniques for me and show how they could be incorporated into my composition.  They also gave me a list of composers and pieces similar to mine for me to go away and listen to, which would help me further understand the genre I was writing in. The highlight of the workshop however, was hearing my work being played by a group of such exceptional musicians. They were able to bring it to life in a way my Sibelius playback never could (hardly a surprise!).  After the workshop, the viola player, Richard Jones, came over to me and just talked to me about music and composing which I really didn’t expect, it was a very kind gesture.

In the evening we were treated to a wonderful concert by the Ligeti Qaurtet in LPAC, rounding off a truly special day for all of us.

Hidden Gems 2019

Hidden Gems 2019
An afternoon celebrating Lincoln’s Arabic and Anatolian Cultures
by Daniel Barnes (3rd year BA music student)
Illustrated with photos by Sophie Hillman

On the 12th of January at Lincoln’s Performing Arts Centre, the second edition of Hidden Gems took place. Hidden Gems is an event focusing on the vast array of culture available in Lincoln, bringing it into the spotlight at University of Lincoln for all to experience. This year the Arabic and Anatolian community went all out, creating a truly memorable event.

Hidden Gems 2019 – Performance in LPAC auditorium. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

The afternoon started off with an arts and crafts workshop where attendees sat down and created colorful paper items and produced beautiful calligraphy. After the workshop had concluded, everyone moved to the cafe, where food and drink was made available.

Hidden Gems 2019 – Tasty baklava sold by the Arabic School for All. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

Curry Jack’s provided amazing tajine, which many were claiming to be the best they ever had. The various Arabic teas available were a perfect accompaniment to the melt in the mouth baklavas provided by the Arabic School For All (ASFA). And for 50p a slice, who could resist just a single try?

Hidden Gems 2019 – White and Gold Arabic tea set. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

To access to the main performance space, the audience was required to walkthough an interactive experience. Varying screens displayed traditional dances, food and weddings, accompanied by cookbooks, wedding garments and headscarves, all of which one could admire in detail. Displayed on various tables were decorated tea sets, jewelry and date plates, arranged in a home style environment, giving an insight into some of the home furnishings of an Arabic household.

Hidden Gems 2019 – Home decorations. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

Once people had made their way through the walkthrough display and into the auditorium, the main evening event began, opened by ASFA’s Children’s Choir who performed a lively song in Arabic and followed up by Liam and Jordan, poets from the University of lincoln.

Hidden Gems 2019 – Woman’s headscarf. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

We were lucky to have the amazing Çiğdem Aslan Trio performing for us, with a range of music from Turkey and its surrounding countries. The dress that Çiğdem wore, was made by the Universities own fashion department especially for the night!

Hidden Gems 2019 – Cigdem Aslan Trio at LPAC. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

Manal Rawaeh and Amjad Batous graced us with some songs from Syria, playing a brilliant set which was thoroughly enjoyed.

Hidden Gems 2019 – Manal Rawaeh and Amjad Batous at LPAC. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

Charlie Gualitieri and Jane Simmons from the Outspoken Poets performed some of their original poems.

Dr. Taghread Hudaib performed beautiful poetry in its original language of Arabic, accompanied by the translation so that we could understand as well as appreciate the music of the language.

Hidden Gems 2019 – The Moroccan guembri. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman


Fouad B. performed a short set on the guembri, a Moroccan bass instrument. He announced “I will show you how to play it”, before launching into amazing bass riffs which captivated the audience.

The evening closed with a second set by Çiğdem Aslan, who were applauded into playing an encore.

We would like to give a special thank you to the Arabic School For All for making the event possible, without their input it would not have been half the event it was.

We would also like to thank the University of Lincoln staff and students who made the event possible including the LPAC technicians, the LPAC front of house staff, the fashion department, the music department, the drama department and Rowan Gatfield from the design department who created this year’s magical graphics.

Hidden Gems 2019 – Graphics by Rowan Gatfield. Photo credit: Sophie Hillman

And finally, a huge thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a special evening, it was a joy to be a part of.

All photos by Sophie Hillman.
For more photos of the event please visit her flickr page.






Labyrinth of a Life – a level 2 production

Labyrinth of a Life was an interactive exhibit held for 2 nights on 26th-27th of April. The free event that took place at University of Lincoln’s Project Space Plus, was imagined and created by Level 2 students from the theme ‘Maze’. Continue reading

End of Year Performances

As we approach the end of this academic year, students are preparing for a multitude of performances, including first year recitals, second year performances, and the Joint Show project, ‘Labyrinth of a life‘. But this week we’re excited to have the first joint performance of the University Chamber Orchestra and University Choir, alongside other Music Department groups, at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. Continue reading