We are looking back on the best research projects in 2020

Outside, spring is in the air, while inside, our master students are fast approaching the end of their studies at the Royal Conservatoire. Spring season for us is also master research season. This weekend, all second-year master students will submit their videos for their master research presentations, which will be held online again this year. In addition to the video, each student already submitted a master thesis. Also in 2021, the topics for their research projects were incredibly diverse ranging from the medieval times to social media in times of lockdown.

Good luck everyone. We wish you all the best for the upcoming presentations. And this is also a good moment to look back to last year’s master research symposium’s highlights and the winners for the best research projects in 2020: Anna, Blanca, Nicolas and Seamus!

Master Research at the Royal Conservatoire
Master programmes at the Royal Conservatoire are directed towards the realisation of the musical vision and ambition of the students. To this aim, we provide students with a curriculum and environment conducive to developing their artistic, entrepreneurial and artistic research capabilities. Students will be part of a research area, in order to facilitate the development and completion of their Master Project, and will follow various introductory courses and an elective in order to develop the necessary research and entrepreneurial tools to make this project a success. Research supervision and entrepreneurship coaching in addition to a peer network in the form of a Master Circle, ensure a supportive and creative environment to help students achieve their goals.

For more information on research at the Royal Conservatoire, please also click here.

Playing with Words
Western art, literature, and music have told many parallel stories throughout the centuries. Living through similar politics, philosophies, and technological advancements, it is no surprise that such links between the arts exist. Now, more than ever, a time when anything can be considered art and anyone an artist, I feel a necessity to understand these connections of the past in order to proceed forward as a musician. Being more and more involved in creating my own music, I thought it an opportune occasion to combine these interests and explore how a research into artistic and literary movements can help me develop my musical language and creativity as an improviser. In this exposition, I have created a narrative that brings together the art, music, and poetry of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Based on my understanding and experience of these artistic and literary movements, I have created improvisations and semi-composed/semi-improvised pieces (some of which I collaboratively worked on with my trio Kalea), attempting to demonstrate how looking to the past can bring inspiration to our contemporary practice.
For more information on Anna's work, pleas also check annalitvinenko.com

(Re)sounding Alexander J. Ellis: A speculative biography through tuning, song writing and composition.
Combining research, correspondence, composition and instrument tuning, a (re)sounding of key ideas of Ellis are presented, in a manner he may have experienced or imagined himself. Aside from tuning two instruments common to Ellis, a London made concertina, and a set of 74 tuning forks, the project attempts a musical representation of parts of his archive and nineteenth century scientific research. You can find Seamus' work in our Research Catalogue.

For more information on Seamus' work, please also check: seacater.com

Simplicity of strong emotion: Study on the performance style of Frederic Mompou based on his recording of Cants Màgics (2020)
Frederic Mompou i Dencausse (1893 - 1987) was one of the most intriguing Spanish composers of the 20th century. His music, often described as pure for its beauty and apparent simplicity, has captivated the attention of numerous critics and musicians around the world.
The majority of the production of Mompou is dedicated to the piano, instrument that he mastered despite his reluctance to perform for large audiences - similarly to F. Chopin. The aim of this research is precisely to investigate the way Mompou performed his pieces, in other words, his performance style.
My investigation is divided into two clear sections: on the one hand, chapters one and two provide the reader with a theoretical framework (biography, style, and influences; on the other hand, chapters three and four constitute the practical and most important part of my research. Concerning this last one, I analyze Cants Magics (1919), the first piece that presents a defined unique style, and its corresponding recording performed by Mompou himself in 1974. The result of this proces is the creation of a new annotated score to visually demonstrate the different expressive resources he uses to enhance the expression of his composition. Examples of these are dislocations, tempo fluctuations, voicings, rubati and pedalling. Lastly, in chapter four I apply partof the above-mentioned Mompou's pianistic techniques into other compositions from Musica Callada. These serve me to formulate an experienced-based reflection on the matter.

For more information on Blanca's research project, please click here.

The Horn of Leutgeb and Mozart: Investigation and Experimentation
The purpose of my research was to investigate how an actual historical horn from the late XVIIIth century would influence the interpretation of a Mozart concerto. A lot of works and researches have been conducted on Mozart's music and how to play it, including by myself. Eventhough those works helped our comprehension of Mozart, I had never encountered a practical experimentation yet. Indeed, XVIIIth century horns are rare and never used for such an experiment : every recorded performance of Mozart’s music on hand-horn is played on a copy or a XIXth century horn, which is historically inaccurate. Thus I decided to find, play and record a historical horn from Mozart’s time, and see what impact it has on the playing and the music. After a long investigation I was able to shed light on new historical clues and elements which considerably enlightens our comprehension of the horn at the time of Mozart, especially important connections between Leutgeb and horn manufacturers of his time. But the most important and innovative result of my research is that I managed to play and record in Czech Republic an original horn made by Kerner in 1760, very close to the one Leutgeb may have played. Altough it is experimental, the recording is the first recording ever of a complete piece on a XVIIIth century horn.

For more information on Nicolas‘ work, please also check: nicolas-roudier.com