Dr Amy Blier-Carruthers
BMus (Hons), MMus, PhD, LRAM
Lecturer in Postgraduate Studies
Amy is Lecturer in Postgraduate Studies at the Royal Academy of Music. She read music at King’s College London (concurrently undertaking her practical studies in violin at the Royal Academy of Music, where she also gained her LRAM teaching diploma), and received her PhD from King’s College London, working with Prof. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (supported by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award linked to the CHARM project). She then went on to lecture at the Royal College of Music from 2011 to 2014, before joining the Royal Academy of Music (University of London) in 2014.
She is a member of the steering committee of the IMR (Institute of Musical Research), involved with the CMPS working group (Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies), and was Impact Fellow at the University of Cambridge whilst researching and writing the impact report for the AHRC Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP).
Her research interests revolve around performance practice and recordings, and by definition involve a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries and the cultural contexts of music-making. Her doctoral research, which is currently being prepared for publication, is an ethnographic and analytical study of classical music-making, focused on the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras. She has investigated his recordings and live performances, exploring the issues that arise when comparing these different performance situations. In addition to detailed analysis of the performances, there is a strong contextual aspect to this research which involves interviewing Sir Charles himself, the musicians, producers, and engineers he worked with, and fieldwork observation of the rehearsal, concert, and recording processes. Amy’s interests in both the contextual and practical aspects of music extend beyond her research; she balances her academic work with her career both as a performer and violin teacher.
At the Academy she is involved with research, as well as teaching, supervision, and tutoring on the postgraduate programme. She lectures in subjects involving performance style, recording practices, ethnographic approaches to classical music-making, self-reflection, innovative performer-led concert practices, the history of performance on recordings and the aesthetic and cultural contexts of these.
As a doctoral supervisor she has run a research group, ‘Performing Cultures’, and her past and present doctoral students work on topics including: innovative studio practices, cultural contexts and practices of music-making, studies of performance style, institutional histories, educational models, and peer-learning models and cross-arts collaboration networks.
She guest lectures at King’s College London, and has been invited to give colloquia, lectures and workshops at Princeton University, King’s College London, The Institute of Musical Research (CMPCP/IMR Seminars), the Smithsonian Institution (Washington), Golsdsmith’s (University of London), the Royal College of Music, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD), the Utrecht Early Music Festival symposium, and the Royal College of Art (AcrossRCA ‘Walkative’).
She is author and course leader of the Academy’s new Professional Diploma in Collaborative Recording Production. In September 2016 the Academy is introducing this innovative new strand, the only one of its kind in the world, which is supported by leading record companies including Decca, Hyperion and Linn. The programme is designed to prepare high-calibre students to be as creatively in control in the studio as on the concert platform, to collaborate meaningfully with the other parties in the recording process, to curate and manage their own recording projects, and to contribute to the future of the record industry with artistic authority.
Current and recent research activities:
- Co-Investigator on the AHRC Digital Transformations project ‘Classical Music Hyper-Production and Practice-as-Research’.
- Core member of the AHRC Research Network ‘Performance in the Studio’, and co-editor of the book, the main output of the research project, with Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, University of West London) and Thomas Porcello (Vassar College).
- Conducting further research and experiments around classical record production practices, involving working with performers, engineers, and producers. (This includes joint presentations and publications with David Gorton, Christopher Redgate, and Neil Heyde about collaborative recording practices and the problem of fixing the fluidity of contemporary compositions which involve indeterminate elements and improvisation).
- Researching the preparation of conservatoire students for the recording studio through the studio courses taught (publications on this subject are detailed below).
- Collaborating with Aleks Kolkowski (Science Museum) on the AHRC-funded project based around a re-enactment of the Arthur Nikisch 1913 acoustic recording by the Berlin Philharmonic of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Royal College of Music (refer to article below). Project also spotlighted on Radio 3: ‘CD Review’ with Andrew MacGregor, January 9th,2015, 9am, produced and presented by Simon Heighes.
Blier-Carruthers, Amy, Kolkowski, Aleks, and Miller, Duncan, ‘The Art and Science of Acoustic Recording: Re-enacting Arthur Nikisch and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s landmark 1913 recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony’, in The Science Museum Group Journal, Issue 3: Communications, Spring 2015.
Blier-Carruthers, Amy, ‘The Studio Experience: Control and collaboration’, in Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science (Vienna, August 2013). August 2013, ISBN 978-2-9601378-0-4.
Published Conference Paper (online): ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love the studio: A professional and paradigmatic approach to preparing musicians for recording’, From Output to Impact, Orpheus Instituut, Ghent, Belgium (November 2014).
(In Press, Summer 2016): Co-editor and contributing author of forthcoming book Walking Cities: London, in collaboration with the Royal College of Art and Camberwell Press (with Jaspar Joseph-Lester, Simon King, and Roberto Bottazzi). The contributed chapter is entitled ‘The Travelling Mindset: A Method for Seeing Everything Anew’; it proposes a model for the use of ethnographic techniques for studying artistic practice.
(Forthcoming/Provisional) Co-editor and contributing author of forthcoming book ‘Performance in the Studio’: main output of the AHRC Research Network project, with Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, University of West London) and Thomas Porcello (Vassar College).
(In Preparation) Monograph based on doctoral research: Live Performance versus Studio Recording in Classical Music: Sir Charles Mackerras, Performers, and Production Teams.
Published Conference Paper (online): ‘The Performer’s Place in the Process and Product of Recording’, CMPCP Performance Studies Network Second International Conference, University of Cambridge (4–7 April 2013).
- ‘The Effects of Recording: Ways of working creatively with the recording process’, King’s College London Colloquia Series (March 2016).
- ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there: Early recordings as a source for performance’, Colloquium, Princeton University (November 2015).
- ‘Performance in the Studio: An educational workshop’, (with Simon Zagorski-Thomas), Royal Academy of Music (November 2015).
- ‘One Londoner’s perspective on early recordings as a source for performance’, A Smithsonian Symposium: ‘Historically Informed Performance in American Higher Education’, The Smithsonian Institution, (May 2015).
- ‘Cutting Through the Noise: Learning to listen to acoustic recordings via a 21st-century re-enactment’, CMPCP/IMR Seminars, Institute of Musical Research, Senate House (February 2015).
- ‘Recordings in Context: What can today’s performers learn from 100 years of recordings’, Utrecht Early Music Festival symposium, Utrecht, Netherlands (August 2014).
- ‘The Art and Science of Acoustic Recording: Nikisch, Beethoven and the wax record’, with Aleks Kolkowski and Robin O’Neil, Grove Forum, Royal College of Music (December 2014).
- ‘The Producer Says: Recording has had an insidious effect on performers...’ with Stephen Johns, Grove Forum, Royal College of Music (November 2011).
Selected recent conference presentations:
- ‘Dying on Stage: Holliger’s Cardiophonie’, (with David Gorton and Christopher Redgate), Performance, Subjectivity and Experimentation in Artistic Research, Orpheus Instituut, Ghent, Belgium (February 2016).
- Chaired panel discussion on ‘The Aesthetics of Recording Classical Music’, Classical Hyper-Production and Practice-as-Research hybrid conference, January 30-31, 2016.
- Art of Record Production, Drexel University, Philadelphia (November 2015), papers given on the topics of Hyper-Production (with Simon Zagorski-Thomas and Andrew Bourbon), and Nikisch acoustic recording re-enactment (with Aleks Kolkowski).
- ‘From Perfection to Expression? Exploring possibilities for changing the aesthetics and processes of recording classical music’. Tracking the Creative Process in Music, IRCAM, Paris (October 2015).
- ‘Creative Hyper-Production: Experiments in classical music and live digital signal processing’, (with Simon Zagorski-Thomas, Andrew Bourbon and Emilie Capulet), Royal Musical Association Conference, Birmingham (September 2015).
- ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love the studio: A professional and paradigmatic approach to preparing musicians for recording’, From Output to Impact, Orpheus Instituut, Ghent, Belgium (November 2014).
- 4th International Reflective Conservatoire Conference ‘Creativity and Changing Cultures’, Guildhall School of Music and Drama (February 2015).
- ‘Performance in the Studio: An educational workshop’, (joint paper with Simon Zagorski-Thomas), CMPCP Performance Studies Network Third International Conference, University of Cambridge (July 2014).
- ‘From Perfection to Expression: Changing the aesthetic of recording classical music?’, The Construction of Musical Performance Norms study day at King’s College London (May 2014).
- The Art of Record Production, Olso (December 2014).
- ‘Performance in the Studio’ Online Conference, Art of Record Production (April 2013).
- ‘The Performer’s Place in the Process and Product of Recording’, CMPCP Performance Studies Network Second International Conference, University of Cambridge (April 2013), and ‘The Performer’s Voice Second Symposium: Horizons Crossing Boundaries’, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore (October 2012).