Please find below a list of our research projects from previous years.

Redefining Instruments

Adriana Festeu – Performance (Voice)

The term Zwischenfach (German for ‘inbetween categories’) is currently used to describe voices that are inbetween the vocal categories of soprano and mezzo-soprano. Since clear voice categorisation is crucial for young singers entering the audition circuit, I set out to investigate the challenges of singers who fall between the main recognised categories. Research methods include score analysis, auto-ethnography, and interviews with reputable opera singers, conductors and casting agents. This process is informing the development of a disc of arias which will aim to capture my ‘optimum repertoire’.

Carter Callison – Composition and Performance (Double Bass)

My research explores scordatura as a physical and theoretical phenomenon. As a bassist these insights have led to the development of Scordatura Pedals, which allow bassists to change the pitch of their strings while playing, and thus greatly expand the capabilities of the instrument. Stemming from physical scordatura, theoretical scordatura is a process I apply to existing works. This process draws equivalencies between the notes of a passage and a theoretical model, resulting in the transformation of various musical parameters.

The Concert Experience

Brian Mark – Composition

My PhD thesis explores the process of taking documents from the past and placing them in a new contemporary musical framework. My interest lies in preserving the essence of these historical components, and emphasizing their ancient character from a modern perspective. With the technological aspects of digital-delay processing, the exploitation of technology in an acoustic and electronic environment has informed my research. I will attempt to juxtapose current and old materials naturally as if there was no chronological gap.

Richard Bullen – Composition

My compositions often make creative use of performance spaces in order to heighten perception of sound, structure, and the drama inherent in my musical material. My recent work The House of Asteria was written for soprano, four vertically separated quartets of clarinet and strings, video and the entire building of LSO St Luke’s. The piece explores the dramatic interaction between 'on' and 'offstage' and seeks to establish an intense series of interrelationships between music, text, video, lighting, spatial choreography, and architecture.

An-Ting Chang – Performance (Piano)

In the process of interweaving music with a dramatic piece, music in Concert Theatre becomes another language expressed by the musicians spoken alongside the actors on the same stage. The work is produced through a collaboration among musicians, directors, actors and designers. My own role involves altering the experience of how these elements interact, thus creating an original performing style.

Performance Practices and Traditions

Jack Lambert – Performance (Piano)

Like many influential pedagogues, very little is documented concerning the content of Maria Curcio’s teaching. Credited as the teacher of such pianists as Martha Argerich, Radu Lupu, Mitsuko Uchida and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, I became intrigued to discover more about her as a pianist and teacher. Through interviewing and working with her former pupils, I hope to build an enduring picture of her approach. This process is proving highly influential in the development of my own playing and teaching.

Sadie Fields – Performance (Violin)

Since the age of eight or nine I have been obsessed by early recording of violinists like Heifetz, Szigeti, and Ferras. I was lucky enough to study with musicians including György Pauk, Ivry Gitlis, and Ferenc Rados, who fuelled my interest in the great traditions of the past, and I’m now continuing this exploration. By learning all of Bartók’s violin works, and using this learning process as a model, I’m exploring my relationship to tradition, pedagogy, learning and to changes in music making during the last hundred years.

Otis Beasley – Performance (Piano)

My research project centres on the interpretative aesthetic of the pianist Moriz Rosenthal, whose formative influences included Karol Mikuli, Franz Liszt and Anton Rubinstein. Through a study of his recordings and those of other pianists who studied with the same figures, this project explores Rosenthal’s art and its relation to leading nineteenth century interpretative traditions.

Maggie Dziekonski – Performance (Violin)

I’m investigating the performance aesthetic of the conductor Leopold Stokowski, examining the ways in which his practices and principles can be practically implemented so as to enrich today’s performers and general musical culture.

Changing Perspectives

Simon Cox – Performance (Trumpet)

I am attempting to address this issue by producing a series of transcriptions for brass septet. During this process I aim to explore and incorporate methods of notating performance practices relevant to the works being transcribed in a manner suitable for brass instruments, for example the natural shape and phrasing which is inherent to choral music due to the text. Further work will be undertaken on the ‘intrinsic’ nature of the brass septet, and whether/how this can be activated in my arrangements.

Laurie Bamon – Composition

My work explores definitions and functions of musical texture with a particular focus on notions of “surface” and “aural perspective”. This has involved considering the qualities of what would normally be deemed foreground- or background-type materials, and then presenting these materials in ways that undermine traditional aural hierarchies. In my piece for large symphony orchestra, Silent Roads, it led to the fundamental structural idea for the piece: a gradual surface-change from isolated pitches to layered chords.

Ivor Bonnici – Composition

My project is based around four works, including one for violin solo, electro-acoustics and ensemble where sound is mixed from all sides of the concert hall. Combinations of timbral identities from different instrumental forces are combined with complex electronic sounds which are spatially distributed. The aim is to alter the perspective of sound, where the listener is immersed in sound and where the auditory journey can be approached from a multitude of angles.

Olivia Sham – Performance (Piano)

My interest led me to explore new ways of presenting virtuoso pianist-composer Franz Liszt’s solo piano music, using nineteenth-century instruments (eg, the Museum’s 1840 Érard grand piano) and an innovative approach to programme design in both my six-recital series and in my studio recording.

Rebecca Herman – Performance (Cello)

Holocaust music can be broadly defined as music written by Jewish composers interned in Nazi camps during the Second World War. But as a body of repertoire, what is its place, and significance, within a larger context of 20th century Modernism and the complex issues of national and cultural identity? As a cellist, my research aims to explore the way string players of Central and Eastern Europe would have performed music written in the 1920s to 1940s. My project focuses on interpretation and programming of this music from a performer’s perspective to enable a three dimensional picture of this wonderful repertoire

Material Interactions

Philip Cashian

I’ve just started work on a commission for the Esprit Orchestra in Toronto. This project is a collaboration with British artist Stephen Vince who is making a series of paintings and sculptures that will be a response to my new piece. His work will form an exhibition at Waddington’s Toronto Gallery that will coincide with the premiere of my piece.

Laura Bowler – Composition

I’m exploring Antonin Artaud’s manifesto for a 'Theatre of Cruelty', and how it can serve as a catalyst for my own work. I’ve been exploring his methods through several case studies, including work for Size Zero Opera (an Opera company I founded in 2007). Currently I’m working on a music theatre adaption of The Spurt of Blood to be directed by Sue Dunderdale (RADA, Head of Directing). In addition to Artaud, I’m looking at other approaches to theatre including those of Grotowski and Stanislawksi.

David Sawer

My last three pieces incorporate theatrical elements and build on my experience of working in opera: Skin Deep, a satirical operetta set in a plastic surgery clinic in Switzerland, consists of a variety of solo, choral and orchestral numbers; Rumpelstiltskin is conceived as a sequence of dance movements based upon events in the fairy tale, with gesture and action - part dance, part dramatic movement - closely related to the rhythm and structure of the composition; Flesh and Blood, a dramatic scene for the concert hall, scored for mezzo soprano, baritone and large orchestra, sets a specially commissioned text by Howard Barker.

David Coonan – Composition

Through a sort of ‘recycling’ my work tries to render afresh ideas from the past, in such a way as they may resonate in contemporary contexts – their clear articulation in sound being a definite research aim. In my recent orchestral Sarcasms, connections to Prokofiev’s identically named pieces suggest music seemingly innocuous on the surface, yet with perhaps darker implications underneath. The expressive duality of this Soviet-era model served as precedent for how a composer might deal with current societal pressures.

Elo Masing – Composition

My Academy research is centred on the physicality of instrumental performance in chamber music – a relatively new direction in contemporary composition that is being investigated in different ways by a number of younger generation composers, such as Simon Steen-Andersen, Aaron Cassidy and Neil Luck. I focus specifically on relating instrumental performance to choreography, often deriving musical material from choreographic movements