Greetings to you, dear world wide wanderer. You have strayed onto the website of the Imperial College Contemporary Music Society. Unfortunately, that name is quite a mouthful to pronounce, so we have decided to abbreviate it to "ICCMS". Another reason for using this abbreviation is that it makes us feel sophisticated, because most people don't know what it means. And, of course, acronyms are just incredibly cool and sexy.

So, what is it all about?

First and foremost, ICCMS is about making music together in a group. Our society is open to musicians of all skill levels and indeed also to people who have never played an instrument before. We want to create an environment where everybody can experience that expressing yourself through music is easy. Sure, hearing a virtuoso strutting his stuff is impressive, but even the smallest, simplest musical contribution can be extremely valuable. Our society is not about showing off technique; it's about having cool ideas, listening to each other and creating music together. And that's something everyone can do.

Another important aim of ICCMS is enabling its members to expand their knowledge and understanding of music. Our society is a place where beginners can learn from and be inspired by the more experienced musicians; it's a place where you can experiment around and try out new ideas instead of playing the same old things all the time; it's a place where people from many different cultural and musical backgrounds come together, share their ideas and broaden each other's horizons. An open mind is all you need to take part in the fun!

We are not specialised in any particular style of music. Everyone is welcome to start ensembles of any genre or organise workshops of any description under the ICCMS heading. There are just three conditions:

So, if you have a suggestion for such an ensemble or workshop and there are people who are interested in participating in it, talk to our committee and we'll see what we can do about supporting you (financially, if neccessary). ICCMS is a society shaped by the ideas of its members - so don't be shy, take the initiative, become active and creative!

But what do you actually do right now?

At the moment, ICCMS is home to a loose collective of free improvisors. During term time, we usually meet one evening per week for a couple of hours in one of the Ensemble Rooms in the Blyth Music Centre. People bring along their own instruments or play the grand piano or one of the many percussion instruments we own. These sessions are very informal and the atmosphere is always relaxed and friendly.

We play around a lot with getting interesting sounds out of our instruments and with different ways of conducting improvisations. We also learn about ideas developed by the musical Avantgarde and try to apply them to our own music and possibly expand upon them. But don't worry - you don't have to be completely "out there" to be part of these sessions. As long as you're reasonable open towards new things, you should find participating in them to be a very inspiring and stimulating experience.

Another regular activity are listening sessions. That is, we meet up at someone's place, listen to music (usually relating to some predetermined theme) and discuss it together. Occasionally, we also organise various workshops. In autumn term 2005, for example, we had one with Barak Schmool, artistic director of the F-ire collective. He taught us some fundamental principles of percussion music, such as the roles of different instruments, communicating with and complementing other musicians and improvising rhythms. And from time to time, we give concerts, of course!

How did it all start?

ICCMS started in 2001 as the brainchild of James Redwood and Hannah Carter, the present and former education officers for Sinfonia21, the now defunct ensemble-in-residence of Imperial College. In these early days it was known as the Imperial College Contemporary Music Collective (or ICCMC, hence the strange naming of our mailing list) and was a subcommittee of Sinfonia21.

The original idea of the group was to bridge the gap between the Imperial College orchestras and the Jazz & Rock society, and include all standards of musicians. James was experienced in running contemporary music workshops, based around improvisation and the ideas of people like John Cage, Steve Reich. A group turned up to the first and second meetings and had a lot of fun. Then James left, leaving a group of people who had finally found a music society they belonged to with no leader or direction. We then floundered for several months having difficulty in raising attendance.

Finally, we decided to attempt to make the collective into an Imperial College Union society - the benefits being we would get union funding to put on events such as workshops led by professional musicians. We succeeded and the "ICU Contemporary Music Group" was formed. In the following two academic years, we organised several workshops, amongst others with shamanic singer Ken Hyder, body percussionist Maurico Maas, improvisors Steve Noble, John Edwards and Chris Brannick and creative music specialists Luke Annelsy and Jim Howard. We also gave several public performances, eg. at the Imperial College Arts Festival 2001, the ICU Jazz Cafe, in dBs and at the IC Summer Ball 2003. In 2003, we purchased a wonderful collection of percussion instruments.

The original members eventually left Imperial College and, unfortunately, there were not many new people to take their place. Interest in the society steadily decreased. In 2004, it was even officially shut down, only to be resurrected a few weeks later by a new, young committee as the "Imperial College Contemporary Music Society". Since then, we have had one concert (in summer 2005 in dBs), one workshop (see above) and we even released a CD!