The creation and performance of new works is central to the RIAM student experience.
Students who are principal study instrumental and vocal majors are encouraged to engage in creative music-making as composer and collaborator, to study and perform contemporary repertoire, to reflect on the creative process, and to bring fresh perspectives to the presentation of new music and the cultivation of new audiences.
Those who wish to study composition as a principal study, or in tandem with instrumental or vocal performance, can do so at undergraduate and postgraduate level in the Bachelor in Music and Master in Music Performance Degrees.
If you wish to focus your principal study in two areas (such as composition and violin, for instance), we will divide up your principal study hours to accommodate this dual pathway, and we will also adjust assessments to fit your best milestones.
RIAM’s faculty includes leading Irish composers Kevin O’Connell (Head of Composition) and Jonathan Nangle. . In addition, RIAM's performance faculty regularly commission and perform new music both nationally and internationally.
Living Music Research
RIAM’s Living Music research strand brings together composition, performance and research. This strand explores themes such as contemporary music in Ireland, significant influences on composition in Ireland and the collaborative process.
Recent faculty DMus research includes Sylvia O'Brien's work focusing on the recreative artist and autoethnographic research in Seóirse Bodley's music and Ken Edge's work examing the performance preparation of works for saxophone by Irish contemporary composers.
RIAM BMus students have the opportunity to collaborate with students from the National College of Art & Design, by having their musical compositions interpreted into short animations. The works from 2020 and 2021 are featured on the online exhibition space, NCAD ╳ RIAM.
RIAM collaborates with living Irish composers annually, mounting first performances which include works for stage and recital.
Siobhan Cleary’s one act opera, Vampirella, was given its world premiere in Smock Alley Theatre. In 2023, RIAM will give the premiere of Kevin O’Connell's DreamCatchr on a text by Lily Akerman. Both of these works were funded by an Arts Council Project Award.
International Performance Projects
RIAM’s international partners include the Juilliard School of New York, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Paris Conservatoire. In all shared projects, new music and music by living composers has taken centre stage with performances by conservatoire students in Dublin, London, Paris and New York. As part of New Music Dublin 2022, students from RIAM and Paris Conservatoire joined forces to perform the Irish premieres of Bastien David's L'impatiente and David Fennessy's Panopticon on the main stage of the National Concert Hall.
Later this year, RIAM embarks on a major new performance project led by internationally acclaimed artist Iain Burnside featuring once again the Paris Conservatoire and Guidlhall School of Music and Drama with new partner, the Mozarteum, Salzburg. This project will feature 12 conservatoire students performing predominantly contemporary music and poetry that reflects on the impact of climate change on our world. Performances of 'Open Your Eyes and Tell Me What You See' will take place in Dublin, London, Paris and Salzburg. Students and producers will travel overland and consider climate and sustainability factors in their choices, both operational and artistic, throughout the project.
Living Composers in RIAM Exams Syllabi
RIAM has committed to including music by Irish composers across all of its exam syllabi, with nationwide workshops offering insights into performing this repertoire.
RIAM annually commissions new works for the piano syllabi from the earliest grades up, so that young students can play the music composed in their time. Commissioned composers include Ailbhe McDonagh and John McLachlan. The RIAM syllabus also includes works by other Irish composers including Marion Ingoldsby, Bernadatte Marmion and Philip Martin.
Celebrating Female Composers
RIAM performs works by women composers in most of its concerts, with recent immersive days devoted to the output of seminal composers such as Lili Boulanger and Judith Weir. In recent years, RIAM Opera has performed fully staged operas written by women composers such as Judith Weir, Siobhan Cleary. Our recent orchestra season with RIAM Philharmonia included Jane O'Leary's Into the Blue and Ina Boyle's Wildgeese. In January 2023 RIAM Opera will be performing Elizabeth Maconchy's The Sofa, billed alongside Alcina by Francesa Caccini, the first known female composer of operatic music.
In recent years the RIAM's annual Saluting the Feminists series has offered a range of events comprising performances, talks and panel discussions highlighting the extraordinary impact women have had and continue to have on Irish musical life.