London Met academic awarded prestigious grant for architecture and music project in Coventry

The Arts and Humanities Research Council have granted Professor Christian Frost to research aural histories of Coventry between 1451 and 1642.

Date: 30 March 2023

Professor Christian Frost, Head of Architecture at London Met, is a part of a team that has been awarded a prestigious research grant worth £910,000 over 3 years to investigate the relationship between architecture and music in Coventry between the Reformation and the outbreak of the English Civil War.

The interdisciplinary, collaborative project will research the civic and ecclesiastical music and ritual that permeated everyday life in the City of Coventry between the 1450s and 1640s, evidenced by a rich seam of documentary sources associated with Coventry’s unique architectural and cultural heritage.  

Royal visits, civic celebrations, elaborate pageants, liturgical and ecclesiastical cycles and the hiring and firing of musical personnel all generated records that provide a glimpse of the role music played in both the occasional and the everyday goings-on. 

Using emerging digital technologies and interactive VR models of Coventry’s lost architectural performance spaces, along with research into historic performances, the project aims to recreate the experiences of musicians and audiences in this period.  

The reconstruction of architectural and acoustic environments and musical practices will be carried out by a diverse interdisciplinary team. The team includes musicologists Professor Jamie Savan (Birmingham City University), Professor Andrew Kirkman (University of Birmingham) and Professor Magnus Williamson (Newcastle University); architectural historian Professor Christian Frost (London Metropolitan University); acoustics and music technology specialists Dr Islah Ali-MacLachlan and Dr Simon Hall (Birmingham City University); and performance practitioner and researcher Dr Helen Roberts. 

The research project will also engage with local communities and audiences, both as active participants in the practice-led research process and through a series of live performances towards the end of the project. This timely work operates at the forefront of current international research in the field. It builds upon a renewed interest in cultural heritage developed locally by Coventry’s status as UK City of Culture 2021, allowing the team to maximise the impact of combining practice-led and digital research practices embedded in the community.

Culminating in an immersive augmented and virtual-reality user experience, the impact of this research will reside in making manifest the intangible cultural heritage of civic and ecclesiastical music-making within its rich architectural and material context. 

Musicians play at St Mary's Guildhall in Coventry