Composition

The creation and performance of new works is central to the RIAM student experience.

You 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.

Our BMus Composition degree is the only 4-year undergraduate programme of its kind in Ireland. The BMusPerf and MMusPerf programmes also offer strands in composition.

Faculty

RIAM’s faculty includes leading Irish composers Kevin O’Connell (Head of Composition), Jonathan Nangle and Amanda Feery

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 research includes work by Jennifer McCay on Kevin O’Connell exploring music and national identity and Annette Cleary’s examination of 20th century Irish cello music. Amanda Feery recently completed her PhD which provides a composer’s perspective on the work of Kate Bush.

Premiere performances

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 2020, 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 2019, students from RIAM and Paris Conservatoire joined forces to perform works by Amanda Feery, Pierre Boulez, Kaija Saariaho and Louis Andriessen. 

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. For the past three years, RIAM Opera has performed fully staged operas written by women composers such as Judith WeirSiobhan Cleary and Francesa Caccini, the first female composer of operatic music. Our 2019/2020 orchestra season with RIAM Philharmonia will also include Jane O'Leary's Into the Blue and Ina Boyle's Wildgeese. 

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.