On Monday 6th June, as part of the City Summer Sounds Festival, we were treated to a concert celebrating the joint City-Guildhall Doctor of Musical Arts degree, presented by 4 completed and completing DMA students, all pianists.
First established in 1992, the City University DMA was the first degree of its kind in the UK. It was re-launched in 2002 as a joint degree with the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the first such collaboration between a top-rated University Music Department and an internationally-renowned Conservatoire. The programme combines performance at a professional level with research on an aspect of performance through scholarly work.
With the final students on the programme graduating in 2016, the concert was a celebration of the past 14 years. All of the music performed related to the research undertaken by the students, starting with Annie Yim who performed the first movement of Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C major, Op. 17, which is strongly connected to her research on Brahms’ Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8a (original version). This was followed by Jennifer Lee who played pieces by Claude Debussy and Korean composer Unsuk Chin, about whose music Jennifer wrote her DMA thesis. Next, Sasha Karpeyev also performed music by Russian composer Nikolai Medtner who spent the last 15 years of his life in London and whose archive of works at the British Library Sasha studied for his DMA. The first half ended with Ben Schoeman playing works by South African composer Stefans Grové, again the focus of his doctoral research.
In the second half of the concert, the pianists came together for some duets (4 hands, 2 pianos) – Schumann’s Andante and Variations in B flat major for two pianos, Op. 46, played by Annie and Ben and the original piano duet version of Ravel’s La Valse played by Sasha and Jennifer. The grand finale of the concert saw all 4 pianists join forces for an energetic performance of Albert Lavignac’s Galop-Marche with 8 hands, 2 pianos – a rousing end to a wonderful concert.
The list of DMA students/alumni since 2002 includes several well-known musical personalities who are active in the United Kingdom and abroad (here are their names in alphabetic order alongside their thesis titles):
Andrew Brownell (USA) – The English Piano in the Classical Period: Its Music, Performers and Influences
Amy Beth Guitry (USA) – The Baroque Flute as a Modern Voice: Extended Techniques and their Practical Integration through Performance and Improvisation
Clare Hammond (UK) – To Conceal or Reveal: Left-Hand Pianism with Particular Reference to Ravel’s ‘Concerto pour la main gauche’ and Britten’s ‘Diversions’
Kostis Hassiotis (Greece) – A Critical Edition of the 48 Studies for Oboe, Op. 31 by Franz Wilhelm Ferling (1796-1874)
Ja Yeon Kang (South Korea) – Robert Schumann’s Notion of the Cycle in ‘Lieder und Gesänge aus Goethes Wilhelm Meister’, Op. 98a and ‘Waldszenen’, Op. 82
Alexander Karpeyev (Russia) – New Light on Nikolay Medtner as Pianist and Teacher: The Edna Iles Medtner Collection (EIMC) at the British Library
Jennifer Lee (New Zealand) – A Study of the Korean Woman Composer, Unsuk Chin, and her Piano Études
Chenyin Li (People’s Republic of China) – Piano Performance: Strategies for Score Memorisation
Edward Pick (UK) – Tonality in Schoenberg’s Music, with Particular Reference to the Piano Concerto
Vasileios Rakitzis (Greece) – Alfred Cortot’s Response to the Music for Solo Piano of Franz Schubert: A Study in Performance Practice
Ben Schoeman (South Africa) – The Piano Works of Stefans Grové (1922-2014): A Study of Stylistic Influences, Technical Elements and Canon Formation within the South African Art Music Tradition
Antonios Sousamoglou (Greece) – An Interpretational Approach to the Violin Concerto of Nikos Skalkottas
Christopher Suckling (UK) – The Realisation of Recitative by the Cello in Handelian Opera: Current and Historical Practices
Annie Yim (Hong Kong/Canada) – A Comparative and Contextual Study of Schumann’s Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 63 and Brahms’s Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8 (1854 version): From Musical Aesthetics to Modern Performances