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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Music researcher wins national public engagement award

Published: 12 June 2014

A University of Southampton research project has won a national award for public engagement. Celestial Sirens, led by Dr Laurie Stras, won the award in the 'Individually-led Project' category in the Engage Competition 2014, run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE).

Celestial Sirens is an amateur female-voice choir, which recreates the musical world of sixteenth-century convents. With a membership drawn from across the South – from Dorchester to Eastbourne – the choir has been active since 2002 and has participated in two award-winning recordings. The choir also participated in a tour of the UK and Ireland in a dramatisation of Sarah Dunant’s novel, Sacred Hearts, which starred Niamh Cusack and Deborah Findlay.

Dr Stras says: “I am immensely proud to be one of three fantastic finalists from the University of Southampton, and also so very proud of, and grateful to, everyone involved with Celestial Sirens, especially my co-director Deborah Roberts. The award is a wonderful recognition of the investment that the choir and our collaborator have made in my research over the years. There is still a great deal of work to do, and music to be sung, so we are all eager to get started on our new recording projects.”

The judges remarked that the work was "Deeply embedded in on-going cycles of research, the project brought the research alive for all the participants whether other researchers, festival goers, performers, authors, readers, or music lovers."

Winners were announced at the national Engage Competition Awards ceremony on Wednesday 11 June at the Natural History Museum. The competition formed part of Universities Week, a week-long celebration of public engagement with research, which is taking place across the UK from 9 to 15 June.

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