Student reading in library

Research Projects


The latest doctoral dissertations have been added to the TARA Research Repository and are available at the links below.

Judge, Madeline, 'Alan Louis Smith's Vignettes: Covered Wagon Woman : a historical and musical analysis from a performer's perspective' (DMusPerf dissertation, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2023)

Ann, Soo-Jung, 'Interpretation and performance: a comparative study of artistic interpretations of performances of Beethoven's Eroica Piano Variations and Fugue in E flat major, op 35' (DMusPerf dissertation, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2022)

Keegan, Patrice, 'From ancient to avant-garde: The evolution of the organ in Ireland and a performer's analysis of five contemporary pieces for solo organ' (DMusPerf dissertation, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2022)

Ó Conchubhair, Fearghal, 'The influence of the Cork International Choral Festival on choral singing, choral conducting and choral composition in Ireland (1954-2021)' (DMusPerf dissertation, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2022)

O'Brien, Sylvia, 'Implications of collaboration: the recreative artist and autoethnographic research in Seóirse Bodley's Never to have lived is best (1965)' (DMusPerf dissertation, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2022) 

Mazanek, Matthew, 'Implicit curriculum: improvisation pedagogy in guitar methods 1760-1860' (DMusPerf dissertation, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2021)

Edge, Kenneth, 'Reimagining the saxophone: preparing works by six Irish composers for performance - a first history' (DMusPerf dissertation, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2021)


NEWS in MAP: Women in Leadership in Music

As part of the Erasmus+ NEWS in MAP project, RIAM asked women in leadership in music to complete an anonymous questionnaire. It concerned the presence of women in formal leadership positions in music organisations, programmes or other structures (as artistic directors, conductors, music school directors, CEOs, etc.), the competences (abilities, skills, knowledge and/or values) and training of those in formal leadership positions, their opinions of the skills and training that is necessary to assume a formal leadership position, and perceptions surrounding barriers to leadership for women.

Full results and analysis of the survey can be read in the report Comparative Country Analysis on Leadership in Music Employability, available at the link below. 

Comparative Country Analysis on Leadership in Music Employability

News in Map (2019-2022)

New Employability within Self-Leadership Academic Programs

Training for the Music Profession 

NEWS in MAP is a 3-year strategic partnership project funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme. The context for this project lies in the discrepancy between the skill set required by the music profession and the traditional education available at music college. For example, most institutions do not develop basic skill sets in team building, business establishment, marketing and event design, which are amongst the most important facets of establishing a new career in music.

The path from music student to successful professional is an extraordinary, but often difficult journey. In recent years the landscape for musicians has changed drastically, and the route to becoming a professional musician is in no way a straightforward journey into a single job. Instead, music students must develop a broad range of abilities, knowledge and skills in order to successfully work as a successful music professional, with self-leadership playing a significant role.

Leadership and Gender

“72% of today’s leaders are not equipped with the critical core skills needed to lead tomorrow’s workforce” (DDI 2015 Global Leadership Forecast) and research has shown that women are underrepresented in leadership positions. Particularly striking is data from within the orchestral profession. A 2019 UCL survey showed that in the symphony orchestras of continental Europe, 36.6% of members were women. In terms of leadership, however, that same study showed that across 40 orchestras in the UK, the USA and Europe, 83.2% of persons occupying Principal Chairs were male, and 16.8% were women.

NEWS in MAP seeks to raise the consciousness of women in relation to their suitability for positions of leadership, to increase both the participation of women at all levels of decision making and the opportunities for women to assume leadership roles. Accordingly, RIAM's current research approaches the question from two different perspectives: the student perspective and the perspective of women in leadership in music. The results of this research will help to inform the development of the module that is at the heart of NEWS in MAP to provide the necessary data and information to incorporate an explicit gender dimension.

Research Methodology 

The RIAM has surveyed music college students throughout Europe to better understand student perspectives on leadership and the traits and competencies that music college students possess. This survey also measured whether leadership aspirations, competencies, confidence and conceptions vary by gender. In addition to the student survey, the RIAM also surveyed female leaders to gather their opinions of the skills and training necessary to assume formal leadership positions, and their perceptions of barriers to leadership. Full results and analysis of the surveys can be read in the final report Comparative Country Analysis on Leadership in Music Employability.

Research Impact

The NEWS in MAP project seeks to promote student self-leadership to increase employability for graduate musicians.

Mosso con brio (Moved with Vigour) was a blended mobility hosted by the RIAM in Spring 2021. It consisted of a range of activities focusing on internationalisation, inter-university exchange, apprenticeships, and cross-border collaboration. 24 students from 4 HEIs worked together over a 3-week period to cooperatively prepare, present and produce a range of outputs. Students were divided into 3 mixed-institution groups and worked on their project briefs with an assigned mentor.

During the virtual activity week (15-19 March), sessions were delivered by guest speakers/artists and students. Guests included concertmasters from ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Vice President of the AEC. Sessions were varied in content: from practical masterclasses and vlog creation to discussions on gender in student leadership and internationalisation. A presentation on collaborative and creative exchange from the CEO of Irish Baroque Orchestra also connected the virtual mobility activities to a physical “apprenticeship” mobility which took place in Dublin from 8-12 March with RIAM students, captured through a vlog which was presented during the week.

The running and content of virtual activities was largely led by students. Masterclasses were run and presented by students, round table discussions and presentations were moderated by students, guest artists were interviewed by student panels. Mosso con brio’s “small, mentored group” structure enabled students to truly lead in the design and public presentation of their project briefs with the support of mentors as facilitators, and not as leaders. The mentors aimed to give the students the knowledge, skills and abilities to run these projects in future without external assistance. The final meeting on 19 March was a structured reflection session. This was a space for participants to reflect on the project and consider their personal achievement of Mosso con brio’s learning outcomes and objectives. 

A detailed report on Mosso con brio which includes project schedule, recordings, slides, feedback is available at this link.

Every journey needs a map and NEWS in MAP will also create and implement a 14-week course, a “map” that enables students to gain the self-leadership competencies needed for employability in the modern world. The course will blend theoretical knowledge with small apprenticeships in a variety of subjects. The synthesis of these two facets, the theoretical and the applied, will result in an internship that offers a real-world experience.

Partner Organisations

Conservatorio di Musica Santa Cecilia Roma

European University Cyprus

Yaşar Üniversitesi Association

Européennes des Conservatoires, Academies musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC)

RIAM Research Team

Deborah Kelleher, Sarah Sew, Vourneen Ryan, Lynsey Callaghan, David Collins


'Kevin O’Connell’s North: Modernism, Sibelius, and Identity'

Dr Jennifer McCay (RIAM Musicianhip Faculty)

This article by Dr Jennifer McCay was published in Nordlit No. 46 (2020): Conceptualizing the North.

The special issue 'Conceptualizing the North' unites theoretical and artistic understandings of and perspectives from ‘the north’. As an area that emerges as forbidding, fragile, and fluid, with stark contrasts, the northern regions of the planet have long fascinated artists and scientists. The issue offers a combination of disciplines and approaches, and is deliberately broad in scope. Through its three sections, entitled ‘travelling’, ‘dwelling’, and ‘composing’, the reader is invited to conceptualize the north through visual art, music, poetry, comics, film, history, museums, sagas, and stories.

Jennifer's article explores the influence of Jean Sibelius and Scandinavian modernism on the work of composer, Kevin O’Connell. Read the full article here.