Douglas Carnes

2020 FMC Graduate Study Scholarship Recipient

DMusPef Candidate – The Royal Irish Academy of Music


Relocating to a new country is said to be among the most challenging things a person can do. Whoever said that clearly never pursued a doctorate degree in music right after relocating. My studies here at The Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) have been equally as laborious as they have been rewarding. As I write this, I am only 4 classes in and although the workload is taxing, I feel a great deal of gratification upon its completion each day. The DMusPerf program – or when in Ireland programme – is designed to be a dual degree which prepares the candidates for both a lifelong career in performance as well as in academia. It is unique in this right and is the very reason for my attraction. At the culmination of our program we will have many writing examples, including our dissertation, and will also have performed numerous recitals, lecture recitals, and concerts. Unlike many of my colleagues, who have very easily identified as a performer, or an educator, researcher, historian, etc., I have always aspired to be both a performer and musicologist (which in the United States implies almost a sole focus on music history whereas here in Europe the term refers to the scholarly study of music across many fields of study). Working closely with musicologist Dr. Denise Neary, my colleagues and I will absorb as much as we can about musicology and how that entwines with our unique interests, while simultaneously working on our applied craft over the next four years. We carefully balance our classes in three week rotations of Introduction to Musicology, Methods in Research, and Topics in Musicology, (this year’s chosen topic is Music in Dublin in the 18th Century, cue Handel’s Messiah premier) all while our private instruction with our esteemed music faculty takes place live or over some type of virtual platform. Working with choral conductor Blánaid Murphy is an amazing fit for me as she was quick to point out my strengths and areas for my improvement. Although we must be fully virtual and we cannot work with live choir (even with proper protocol the Irish government has ruled this out), we still manage to work on score study, history, vocal pedagogy and gesture. Although challenging to balance school with teaching private lessons and musicianship during the day, it is one of my favorite chapters in life thus far.

Contrary to my own prior belief, school in Europe can be just as expensive as school in The States. There is an added pressure because as an expat, loans are not an option. Without the FMC Endowment Fund supporting my education and career, this new chapter would not have been possible. Living in Minnesota and being part of the Minnesota choral community taught me many things about myself and the world around me. Foremost is the undeniable fact that Minnesotans are a different breed of people; kind, generous, hardworking, trusting and faithful. The donations to and from the FMC Endowment Fund are a preeminent example of these qualities. I am proud to represent the choral community of Minnesota while I pursue my dreams here in Ireland. I hope to return one day soon and join in song with my old friends and family.