Galway's First Music Degree to Commence This September

Dr Aidan Thomson

Galway's First Music Degree to Commence This September

NUI Galway appoints Dr Aidan Thomson as Head of Music.

The National University of Ireland Galway will begin its intake of students for the college’s very first music degree this September. Dr Aidan Thomson has been appointed as Head of Music to lead the new course.

The core of the Bachelor of Arts honours degree in Music is a thorough grounding in musicianship – theory, harmony, keyboard harmony and critical listening – and training in the repertory and culture of western classical and Irish traditional music. 

Students will also take modules in performance, composition and sound technology. The degree is therefore aligned with the requirements of the Irish Teaching Council, meaning that graduates would be equipped to take postgraduate teaching qualifications in music at primary and secondary level.
Music professionals
A feature of the four-year degree is that students will have the opportunity in their third year to undertake a music-related placement. They will also be able to work with music professionals throughout the degree, notably the current Galway Music Residency Ensemble in Residence, the ConTempo String Quartet. In addition, students will have the chance to take other modules within the College of Arts, such as on the relationship between music and theatre, and music and words. In their final year, students will take a module in writing about music and performance criticism.

The university is developing strategic partnerships with the Galway Music Residency and concert promoters Music for Galway, and is building on existing expertise in music in different disciplines within the institution.

Dr Thomson has taught at the University of Oxford, the University of Leeds and, for the last fourteen years, Queen’s University Belfast, principally in music history, theory and analysis, but also in performance. He is an experienced violinist (having led the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland while at university), pianist and organist, and he has directed the choir of St Bartholomew’s Parish Church in Belfast. He has a particular interest in British and Irish music of the early twentieth century, particularly Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Arnold Bax, and co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Vaughan Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2013). In 2016, he wrote and presented Bax, Ireland and 1916 for RTÉ Lyric FM’s ‘Lyric Feature’ programme, which looked at Bax’s relationship with the leaders of the Easter Rising.
Commenting on the new degree, Dr Thomson said:

The timing of this new degree could not be better. Introducing music has the potential to make NUI Galway an important hub for musical performance, creation and thought. It builds on Galway’s reputation as a centre for artistic excellence, as recognised in its City of Culture status in 2020. The flexibility of the music degree will equip students to embark on a wide variety of careers… be it as performers, composers, teachers, journalists, arts administrators or broadcasters, among others. But even before that, our students will be at the heart of the creative life of the university, the city and beyond.

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Published on 17 May 2018

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