The London Ear

When Michele Nunnelly made the trek from UNH to Regent’s University in London, England, there were a few things she knew for sure.

She knew she would eventually get homesick.

She knew she’d travel to other countries.

She knew she’d have to push herself academically.

She knew she’d have a blast.

Michele Nunnelly is currently studying abroad in London, England as part of the UNH-Managed program.

Michele Nunnelly is currently studying abroad in London, England as part of the UNH-Managed program.

What she didn’t know, however, was that studying in London would offer her the chance to hear music in a way she’s never heard it before.

“There are so many opportunities to hear things,” Nunnelly said. “There are so many free concerts and shows. I’ve heard some things here that I never would have heard at home.”

You’re probably thinking, big whoop! Everyone knows there’s more culture in Europe! But for this music education major and flutist, experiencing music is an integral part of her education, her happiness, and her future.

Not to mention: That homesickness she knew she’d get? Yeah—the comfort of getting lost in a Brandenburg concerto certainly helps.

So, it’s no surprise that Nunnelly’s ears have heard their fair share of London melodies this semester.

“It’s all very inspiring,” Nunnelly said. “London is a city that attracts a lot of people and it’s created a very unique environment for music.”

Nunnelly recalled a music festival she heard about in her very first week abroad.

“It was a Jewish Klezmer festival,” Nunnelly laughed. “I mean, that’s some really interesting stuff.”

(According to Wikipedia, Klezmer: a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim, the genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations.)

The first concert Nunnelly attended was the London Symphony Orchestra, where they performed 20th century Russian music.

“That was a really cool experience because they are one of the number one orchestras in the entire world,” Nunnelly said. “They had a guest pianist there and he ended up getting four standing ovations and came on stage for an encore.”

She’s also attended a few concerts at a church near Trafalgar Square. Once she watched a Spanish flutist and Indian Pianist play an arrangement of solo pieces from around the world.

Nunnelly's view of the London Symphony Orchestra--her first concert experience in London, located at the Barbican Theatre.

Nunnelly’s view of the London Symphony Orchestra–her first concert experience in London, located at the Barbican Theatre.

Another time she had the “great opportunity” to see world-renowned flutist James Galway and his wife, Lady Galway, perform together.

“That was really great,” Nunnelly said.

Soon she’ll be going to see a baroque flute concert. Baroque, Nunnelly explained, is “differently constructed music with a different sound quality, and different ornamentation aspects of the period—just different in general.”

James and Lady Galway performing Brandenburg concertos.

James and Lady Galway performing Brandenburg concertos.

And this past Tuesday she took a master class at the Royal Academy of Music, after which there was a recital with flute and African music.

When interviewed for this blog, Nunnelly was very excited for the master class.

“I am just growing so much as a musician here,” Nunnelly said. “I have a much broader array of things I’ll choose to listen to in the future, and a better understanding of all the different things people are doing with music.”

Through the many concerts and recitals she’s attended, Nunnelly has gotten so much music education outside the classroom, that as far as actual classes go, she has been able to use her semester in London as a chance to take Discovery courses and some extra topics she’s “simply interested in.”

“The music schedule—especially music education—is so hard to manipulate to even get abroad,” Nunnelly said, adding that she feels lucky to have been able to manage it. “But if you can somehow make it possible, I think its incredibly valuable to your growth as a musician.”

And with more than half of Nunnelly’s semester come and gone, some of her classmates will undoubtedly start to make their final souvenir purchases; maybe a Big Ben coffee mug, or a British flag to hang in their dorm room back in Durham.

But Nunnelly will fill her last weeks with as many last-minute music experiences as she possibly can, taking in all the music she never knew she’d hear.

Because the musical and cultural experience is, after all, the souvenir Nunnelly will keep with her forever.

Michele Nunnelly

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