Maria Sappho

Maria Sappho


Accepting PhD Students

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Personal profile


Maria Sappho is a Newyorican currently working as an artist and researcher in the UK. Maria specialises in multi-species collaborative projects working often with an AI named ‘Chimere’ and with mushrooms.
She gained her PhD as part of the European Research Council project Interactive Research in Music as Sound (IRiMaS) where she assisted in the development of new musicological software through her work in investigating the global practices of contemporary experimental improvisers. Maria holds a MMus and BMus from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is the current module coordinator for Sonic Improvisation at the Conservatoire. Maria is also a current Master’s tutor for the Institute for Contemporary Music Performance.
Her academic work has been published in the Cambridge University Press Organised Sound Journal, in Frontiers Psychology and she is currently completing a new book with Raymond MacDonald, Tia DeNora, Robert Burke, and Ross Birrell contracted with Oxford University Press.
Maria’s most recent research involves her role as Postdoctoral research fellow with the Digital Playgrounds for Music (DPfM) impact project led by Michael Clarke. In this roel she is assisting with the dissemination of softwares developed for interactive aural analysis. She is also the founding member of the Chimere Communities project with Jonathan O’hear (CH) Qondiswa James (SA) and Lineo Segoete (LS) in partnership with the AiiA festival and the ImpactIA foundation. Chimere Communities is setting up international artistic hubs and creative spaces which offer direct involvement in working with and developing artificial intelligence across South Africa, Lesotho, and Switzerland. Chimere Communities is directly concerned with tackling current dominant (largely Western) perspectives in AI research, which do not reflect a global and creative culture. 
In a musical capacity Maria has worked with a number of large ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble (US), BBC Scottish symphony orchestra, Australian Art Orchestra, and the Instant Composers Pool (ND). Maria is a long time member of the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (GIO) and founding member of the Noisebringers ensemble (CH/UK).  She was also the 2024 touring replacement for the Scottish post-rock band Mogwai. Maria runs the Feminist Free Improvisation Archive (for gender minority artists), curates for Mopomoso (vortex Jazz bar London) and co-edits the political arts magazine the Mass. Maria is a winner of the BBC radiophonic Daphne Oram award (2021), Dewar awards (2018) and New Piano Stars Competition (2015). 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, The Improvisers Cookbook

Award Date: 5 Sep 2022

Master, Contemporary Piano, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Award Date: 6 Jul 2018

Bachelor, Piano Performance , Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Award Date: 6 Jul 2018

External positions

Masters Research Supervisor, Institute of Contemporary Music Performance

Improvisation Module Coordinator, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Improvisation
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Experimental Music
  • posthumanism
  • Feminist Theory
  • Instrument Design
  • piano
  • performance practice
  • practice based research


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