Petra - "Research and artistic ambition are encouraged here"

12 January 2023

Petra Cini has always been drawn to exploring new musical horizons as a composer and pianist. So, after completing her master's in classical piano in Italy, she decided to pursue a master's degree in composition at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague in the Netherlands. Petra is also the beneficiary of the Excellence Scholarship from the Fund for Excellence.

"I started playing the piano when I was five and was always writing music as a kid," Petra recalls. "I wasn't from a musical family, but I was exposed to many different genres. Then, around 14, I realised I wanted to become a concert pianist. But after finishing my studies in piano, it became clear that composing was what I wanted to do."

Although Petra initially studied composition in Florence, she felt that the traditional approach to the program needed to be a better fit for her. So, she decided to take a break and study independently for a few years. That's when she heard about the progressive and open approach of the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague.

An environment where research and artistic ambition are highly encouraged
"I heard about the projects and resources the conservatoire offered and knew it was the place for me," Petra says. "It provides an environment where research and artistic ambition are highly encouraged. If you know how you want to develop, the conservatoire offers the resources and flexibility to shape the course in a way that allows your ambitions to flourish. If you want to do something and think it would be important for your development, there's a good chance the conservatoire will listen to you and help you find a way to do it."

Interdepartmental projects
At the Conservatoire, Petra has worked with various teachers, each with a unique perspective on music. She believes this has helped her develop her own musical identity. Petra is also participating in a project that brings together students from the composition and harp departments to collaborate on a piece for the harp and string quartet, which will be performed in the Spring Festival by classical department students. In addition to these interdepartmental projects, Petra has also had the chance to work with professional ensembles. Last year, she was fortunate to write a piece for the Klang ensemble.

"Finding your way as a freelancer is very important in this field," Petra says. "You have to create your practice. I need to feel free in my intellectual and artistic work, so I balance that freedom with teaching, which I love, and working on projects that excite me."

Math and music
One of the things that set Petra's work apart is her interest in integrating math and music. She is currently focused on creating musical representations of mathematical groups.

"I've always been interested in math, and I think it's a fascinating way to approach music," Petra says. "Music and math are related in many ways, and I think exploring that connection is exciting. It's also a way to create something completely new and unique."

A supportive and dynamic community of artists
Despite the many challenges that come with being an artist, Petra values the support and resources available at the Conservatoire. "The conservatoire is aware that being an artist can be stressful, so they offer the opportunity to talk to a student counsellor and get help if things become overwhelming."

As she continues to develop her skills and grow as an artist, Petra is grateful for the opportunities and experiences the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague has provided her.

"The conservatoire is a very open, safe, and respectful environment," Petra says. "It's a place where you can use it as your playground to explore and broaden your view of music. The organisation of concerts and projects also encourages collaboration and interaction among students from different departments, which is wonderful. I'm grateful for being part of such a supportive and dynamic community of artists."

As Petra shapes her studies to fit her ambitions, she desires to create something unique and meaningful through her music. "Composing is a very personal activity, and I think that's what makes it so rewarding," Petra says. "I love expressing myself through my work and creating something that has never existed. That drives me as an artist and motivates me to continue exploring and growing my craft."

Interested? Go to our 'Apply now' pages for more information about the Royal Conservatoire.