‘Performer-scholars’ appointed to School of Music

THE Canberra music community has long been expecting news of appointments at the ANU School of Music with a scholarly and international bias and now the news is out. 

Voice: Paul McMahon

Voice: Paul McMahon

After a reported 130 applications, the Head of School Professor Peter Tregear has announced that violinist and musicologist David Irving, studio recordist and popular music and technology expert Samantha Bennett and a tenor and early music expert Paul McMahon, were a “prize catch” for the ANU, and indeed for Australia.

As expected, all have PhDs, and all are described by Professor Tregear as “truly outstanding emerging performer-scholars who will enhance and develop our international profile as a leading performance and research school.”

The message is clear. The previous focus on top performance practice taught to and by elite performers will give way to what Professor Tregear says will be “substantial new programs in areas of growing cultural and economic importance, such as historically informed performance practice, music in Southeast Asia, popular music and digital musical cultures.”

Irving, a period violinist who has worked with early music orchestras including the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Gabrieli Consort & Players and The Hanover Band, studied violin and musicology at the Queensland Conservatorium and the University of Queensland and, like Professor Tregear, completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge.


Violinist and researcher David Irving

Violinist and researcher David Irving

He held posts at Cambridge and King’s College London before becoming a lecturer in music at the University of Nottingham and his academic research focuses on intercultural exchange, colonialism, and globalisation from the 16th century to the early 19th century. Irving is studying the impact of Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonialism on the musical traditions of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago.

Bennett is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster in  London. A rock performer and studio recording artist, in 2007 she was awarded an ARC Doctoral Scholarship to complete her PhD in Popular Music Recording Techniques.

Rock expert Samantha Bennett

Rock expert Samantha Bennett

McMahon’s performing career includes appearances as a soloist with symphony orchestras, chamber music groups and choirs throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Career highlights include Bach’s “Johannes Passion” with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Mozart’s “Requiem” with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

He is presently based at the School of Creative Arts, University of Newcastle, where he teaches voice, as well as lecturing in music history and “historically informed” performance. His PhD thesis looked at the delivery of higher education pedagogy in baroque performance practice. McMahon’s book on Handel and Draghi was published in 2009.

All three will join ANU next year, one early in 2013, the other two mid-year.


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