Discover what are graduates are doing
Adam McCartney - BMus (Hons)
I studied for the BMus degree at UCC from 2006-2010. One of the very
many interesting things that used to happen regularly during that time
was guest lectures by various performing musicians and academics. The
guest would usually present a performance at some point during the
week and then give a seminar or lecture to a group of students. At
one of these lectures the composer/drummer Charles Hayward mentioned
an experience he had with his drum instructor when he was younger,
basically it amounted to the teacher being able to deliver a lesson of
such depth that the now fully grown Charles was still referring to the
lesson and mining it for wisdom. This is similar to how I think about
my music studies at UCC.
At the very least the music department was an inspiring place to
learn. The faculty created an environment where excitement for,
curiosity about, and love of music were demonstrated and encouraged in
practically every dimension. My main interests at the time centered
around electronic music and composition, although I also spent plenty
of time playing bodhran, reading philosophy and trying to keep up
with the amazing musicality of my peers in various ensembles like ewe
drumming and gamelan.
After graduating, I went on to complete a masters in composition with
Klaus Lang at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz in
Austria. Since then I've worked quite a bit as a freelance composer,
and have been lucky to work with some amazing ensembles like The Quiet
Music Ensemble, Longleash (a piano trio), Klangform Wien, airborne
extended, Crash Ensemble and recently even the National Symphony
Orchestra in Dublin.
All of this has proved to be interesting journey and led to many
unexpected places. One of the most challenging questions that I had to
face along the way whether or not full time music making could be a
viable career. Spoiler: it's not that easy. I've had to diversify into
other areas apart from just writing music since I graduated. These
have included music teaching, piano tuning and most recently software
engineering and I've been lucky enough to find quite a deep passion in
the latter. Even though it's not directly related, I keep returning to
my experience at UCC, finding it a rich source of reflection.
Linda Walsh - BMus (Hons)
I graduated with a BMus (Hons) from UCC in 2013, specialising in composition under John Godfrey. Moving to Dublin in pursuit of work, I quickly became immersed in the thriving theatre scene and began working as a freelance composer with various small theatre companies, writing incidental music and underscores. Engagements to date include Love, Wrong Love, The New Theatre (2013), Franken 20, Smock Alley (2014), A Storm in Swords, Players Theatre (2014), Tingo, Smock Alley (2015), Aisling’s Seven, Theatre Upstairs (2016) and, most recently, The Collector, The New Theatre (2017). I am currently working on two large- scale projects with Underdog Theatre Company and am working with two different playwrights on the production of my first musical, to enter production in early 2017.
My musical journey has also gone in some unexpected directions since graduation. I have always had a strong interest in composing for voices so I decided to continue my vocal study part- time at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama under mezzo soprano Jennifer Hamilton. Since then, my voice has taken me to places I never expected it would. In addition to concert work, I have since undertaken various operatic roles, starting with mezzo role of the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. I then experimented with a variety of different roles from Sandmannchen in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, Helen in Boito’s Mephistopheles, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust and, a personal favourite, Euridice in Gluck’s incredible Orfeo ed Euridice. I quickly discovered that my voice is best suited to dramatic coloratura repertoire- a far cry from my first role! I most recently sang the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote- arguably the most famous of all coloratura roles- for the first time to a sold- out Mill Theatre, which was a great honour. One of the highlights of my singing career so far was singing the title role in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. Admittedly this was quite an ambitious undertaking for a very young soprano and it wasn’t perfect but it sparked my deep love for Bel Canto opera: so much so, that I am moving to Cardiff to study for my postgrad at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama this Autumn with dramatic coloratura soprano Suzanne Murphy.
Of course, like many other music graduates, I also found my way into teaching and am currently teaching voice and piano at the Mezzo Music Academy, Clonee Music Tuition Centre and the Mobile Music School. I am also the choral director of the junior choir at Whitechurch and am responsible for both conducting masses and composing seasonal liturgical music. I have directed many other groups in a choral context but the one that perhaps I am most grateful to have met are the Musical Memories choir from Dun Laoighaire, made up of patients with dementia and their carers. I was so touched to discover the psychological effect that music had on them, and it was such an honour to direct the group for almost a year. In that time, we even succeeded in pulling together three public performances and seeing the bond between these elderly choristers and their adult children grow and strengthen through music is something in which I feel extremely blessed to have had a part.
I have quite enjoyed teaching- much more than I expected I would. If I have one piece of wisdom to share with current students, it’s that you absolutely should give teaching a go. I have found that I have learned so much more about myself as a singer through teaching as it really forces you to be analytical about your technique and think on your toes!
I am very grateful to be on my current career path backed by a University Music degree. I find that it gives me a different insight and some additional transferable skills to many of my Conservatory- trained peers. I think singers especially can benefit so much from University training as the voice often doesn’t begin settling until at least the age of 25. Four years of your Bachelor are well- spent working on your critical- thinking skills and it will stand to you and make you stand- out as a ‘thinking singer’ once your voice is mature enough to take your training very seriously! I am excited to be embarking on the next step of my singing career in Wales armed with the skill- set I gained while studying in UCC.
Neil Quigley - MA Composition
I finished up in the Department in 2013 after doing a Ma in composition and the BMUS program before that. I have recently worked with the London Contemporary Orchestra, Crash Ensemble during their Free State #9 concert and have had pieces premiered in Buenos Aires, Montreal and Spazioersetti in Udine, Italy. I have just been accepted into a Doctoral program in Northwestern University in Illinois which will commence in September.
Linda Buckley - BMus
Linda Buckley is an Irish composer currently based in New York, who writes for both electronic and acoustic forces. The diverse instrumentations of her work include Javanese Gamelan, choir, multi-channel tape, prepared piano and orchestra.