Lucy Currid (U21) is a second year Music student at Churchill. She grew up in Bolton in Greater Manchester where she studied at local schools from primary school to sixth form. Lucy recalls always being surrounded by music and people who loved music

we had an old, second-hand piano in our house that I started to properly learn when I was eight, and I just carried on from there. I love how music touches on and brings together so many different areas, such as maths, science, philosophy, history, literature, and the fact that there are endless opportunities for creativity to be explored.

Lucy was attracted to the Cambridge music course because it offered a more essay and theory-based approach as well as providing an opportunity for increasing degrees of specialisation. Lucy applied during the pandemic so she wasn’t able to come and visit the colleges in person and chose a college that was closer to the Music Faculty, but she definitely feels that Churchill is the right place for her!

There is such a great music community at Churchill – whether that be musicians or music-lovers. We have fantastic facilities available and plenty of performing/creative opportunities, especially with the more social music events in the buttery. I feel that Churchill welcomes and encourages all manner of musical endeavours, which is really exciting.

Performing with the Samulnori Society

One of the first emails Lucy received when she started at Churchill was an invitation to join the Cambridge University Samulnori Society. Lucy was intrigued and excited by the chance to try something new and meet new people, so she went along to find out more. She discovered a fascinating musical genre. Samulnori is a Korean percussive art that is taught entirely through oral tradition. Formally established in the 1970s, Samulnori is both a development and revival of the music tradition pungmul, performed on stage. Each of the four instruments that are played (the kkwĕnggwari, janggo, buk and jing) all represent different weather elements (lightning, rain, wind and clouds, respectively).

Playing in the society has provided Lucy with a completely different performance experience which she believes is extended to the audience, as they are introduced to something they are unlikely to have encountered before. As Lucy explains: ‘when we play the instruments, it is as much about the performance as a whole as it is playing the correct rhythms; we use the hohŭp (winding motion) to breathe in time with the music we also and incorporate different body movements with the different sections. I think this is part of what makes Samulnori so different to the other music I play – you have to be very aware of both your presence on stage with your instrument, as well as other people and playing together, all joined by the hohŭp. You really feel part of a team when you’re playing. Also, the fact that we’ve all started from the same level means we have a great sense of community and support in the group, which translates into our playing. When I first came to Cambridge, I never thought I would be doing anything like this.’

Watch the video below to see Lucy and her fellow performers in action at West Road Concert Hall:

As well as performing, Lucy sits on the committee of the Samulnori Society and there are plans to perform at Churchill College early in the Lent term. The College has supported Lucy’s application for an Arts Representation Grant to help cover accommodation expenses when attending additional training outside of term-time. Arts Representation Grants are made in College by a committee consisting of the Senior Tutor, Finance Tutor, Senior Postgraduate Tutor and other Fellows. Grants up to a maximum of £350 are usually made for sports or similar expenses where the student is representing the University or playing at national level, or for specific events or travel which are related in some way to the student’s University activities. Lucy is very grateful for the opportunity to attend the out-of-term training on offer:

The skills and experience that the ensemble gains from extra training is crucial to us being able to give more and new performances in other parts of the university and beyond. There is still so much for me to learn about this genre, and Cambridge is the perfect place for me to do this, so it’s exciting to have these opportunities.

As well as the music community at the College, Lucy also loves the welcoming and relaxed atmosphere and the grounds available to everyone; ‘it’s amazing that we have fields and gardens that we can just have a relaxing stroll around’. A particularly memorable highlight of her time in College was in Michaelmas 2021, when her whole flat came together to make a surprising successful Christmas dinner!

Looking ahead to beyond her current studies the prospect of doing a Master’s degree or PhD really appeals to Lucy, especially after doing more specialised study this year. She would love the freedom of being able to explore her ideas further and hopes there may be some way she could incorporate both musicology and composition into her studies. Longer-term she has always hoped to write music for the stage and screen but the idea of being able to continue research and working in academia is also equally appealing and she is excited to see where her Music studies will take her!