Ash Ahmed, Author at The Open College of the Arts
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Ash Ahmed


How many spoons do you have today?

The OCA has a diverse student body, many with a variety of challenges. As a tutor I frequently support students with difficulties with their course as a result of their condition – demotivation is probably the biggest symptom of this I see. Spoon theory is an incredibly powerful tool that can help manage this

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Diversity talk is cheap: Why perceptions of the design industry are deceptive.

As a designer from a minority and working class background, I had similar perceptions of the creative industries prior to beginning my career. I became a designer to do a job I love, and I wholeheartedly believe in many of the progressive ideals of diversity and equality that design agencies love to talk about.

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The First Operas: Part 1

When you get the chance to reacquaint yourself with works that you have not heard for many years it is sometimes a delight to reawaken that first initial flush of emotion you felt all those years ago when you first discovered the piece. Sometimes you even make new discoveries along the way.

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Neville Marriner: An Appreciation

My first memory of Sir Neville Marriner, and his ensemble, “The Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields” was as a 13 year old. A school mates uncle had sent him an LP of four works of Vaughan Williams. I had never heard of Vaughan Williams before, nor the band and conductor. It blew me away. It was an epiphany.

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Michael Tippett: “Ritual Dances” from The Midsummer Marriage

With these strong psychological ideas of masculine and feminine combined with nature, Tippett was not eschewing the modern tendency to belittle these old beliefs but to accept them and re-present them in a vibrant modern way within his own musical and dramatic language. This gives them new life, reinvigorating them for an audience in a modern world of multilayered concepts and emotions which, when combined with our cultural history, resonates with each and every one of us.

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A Giant of Beauty: Einojuhani Rautavaara

The news of the passing of one of Finland’s greatest composers was slow to filter out into the world, and even slower for people to get a grasp of the fact that this man, who has been called “A Giant of Beauty”, had actually died. He was 87 years of age and had become one of the leading lights in Scandinavian and Baltic contemporary music over the years. He was a luminary in what is slowly becoming known as the Baltic Spiritualist, or Baltic Minimalist, group.

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The Joys of Medieval Music

Recently while working on the new Foundations in Music course I realised just how unfamiliar most people are with the music and composers of the medieval period. Much of the music and many of the names are long lost but some have remained.

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Musical Ancestry

What have the above three faces got in common and who are they even? You may be able to name one or two but what links all three together? Well the answer is Musical Ancestry. The first image is that of Paul Hindemith, the second Arnold Cooke and the last is Felix Mendelssohn. What links these rather disparate composers is their musical lineage, and mine.

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Another Pin Falls! Peter Maxwell Davies: A Personal Remembrance

His legacy will last and his works will remain in the repertoire, unlike many of today’s composers when they ‘shuffle of this mortal coil’. The world is a great deal poorer today for his loss. I have lost the soundtrack to my life, and a dear friend through his music. Rest in peace Max.

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Classical music composers?

Recently I was working on the History aspect of the forthcoming Foundations in Music course and realised that more Baroque composers seem better known today than those of the following Classical period (c.1750-1827). Whenever I have received work from students it often contains the usual culprits of the Classical age and so this blog is written in a hope to shine a light on some of the other great names of this period. With some research and listening, students will realise just what an innovative period it was in the history of music.

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