Olivia is a pianist who, in addition to her performances on modern piano, also plays historical keyboard instruments, with a focus on nineteenth-century pianos and repertoire.

Born in Australia, Olivia completed a BMus at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (The University of Sydney) on a scholarship of Outstanding Academic Achievement and Merit, where she studied with Elizabeth Powell, and graduated with First Class Honours and the University Medal. She was then awarded a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she completed a MMus with Professor Christopher Elton, graduating with Distinction. She has just finished her PhD at the Academy, researching Liszt performance practice with the support of an Overseas Research Award, where she performed a six-recital series of Liszt’s piano music as part of her portfolio.

Olivia has won numerous prizes and awards, and has performed recitals and concertos internationally. She has also presented papers and recitals at various research conferences in the UK and Europe. Olivia is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Academy, and also teaches piano performance students of King’s College, London. Her debut solo album, Liszt and the Art of Remembering, was recorded on both modern and historical pianos, and will be released by Avie Records in November 2016.

Research profile

My doctorate focused on finding ways of performing Liszt to challenge the ways in which he is commonly perceived and presented today. It involved an investigation of notions of nineteenth-century virtuosity and historical pianos. This fed into my portfolio of performances, using both the modern grand piano and the Museum’s 1840 Erard grand piano, in which I carefully programmed and considered aspects of interpretation to present my own performance practice of Liszt’s music.

Alongside this, I have been developing my research into performance on nineteenth-century pianos. I have travelled to and performed at various collections of instruments in the UK and Europe, something that I am still pursuing. Last year, I presented two public seminars on the historical pianos at the Academy: ‘Original Keyboards: Artefacts or Instruments?’, and ‘Recording and Programming Historical Instruments’.

I have also been exploring the way these historical pianos can operate in chamber music scenarios, and have collaborated with Academy staff and student researchers on this in the Museum in past projects including Chopin’s First Piano Concerto with string quintet on the 1842 Pleyel square piano, Hummel and Moscheles on the 1815 Heichele grand piano, and Liszt and Lafont’s ‘collaborative virtuosity’ on the 1840 Erard.

Website

www.oliviasham.com

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