20 May 2022

Limerick student presented with prestigious music award for final-year thesis

Limerick student presented with prestigious music award for her thesis

Shona Cassidy, from Raheen, being presented with her music award at MIC.

A LIMERICK graduate has been presented with a prestigious music award for her thesis on the musical The Phantom of the Opera.

Raheen native Shona Cassidy, a BA in Music and English graduate at Mary Immaculate College, was awarded First Prize in the Council of Heads of Music in Higher Education (CNMHE) Undergraduate Musicology Competition for her thesis on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical.

The competition sees Higher Education music departments from around the country nominating an undergraduate dissertation for the annual prize.

Shona’s winning thesis was, The Phantom of the Opera: High Art or “High-Pop”, investigated the much-debated categorisation of the 1986 musical within the musical theatre landscape.

On choosing her topic, she said: “I wanted to explore the gap which I saw as existing between the perception of opera today and the role it played in nineteenth-century society.”

Shona evaluated to what extent Phantom, as a ‘high-pop’ musical, both embraces and revises past musical theatre traditions as a method of reinventing a form of opera for the twentieth-century audience.

This award is not the first Shona has received during her time at MIC.

At her graduation ceremony in October 2021, Shona was awarded the Gold Medal in Liberal Arts in recognition of her academic performance during her studies.

“Having had a strong love and appreciation for education instilled in me by my parents from a very young age, I am delighted that my time in MIC allowed me to develop the skills necessary to produce a dissertation such as this,” she said.

Congratulating Shona on her research was her supervisor Dr Michael Murphy, lecturer in Music at MIC, who said his student “richly deserved” the national recognition for her project.

“Her inquisitive thinking and wide reading resulted in an impressive critical engagement with important cultural issues.”

He added that he thoroughly enjoyed their many conversations on the ‘Phantom.’

Given the exceptional quality of her work, the faculty in the Music Department were very happy to nominate Shona’s dissertation for the annual musicology prize

“I wish Shona well in her promising career,” Dr Murphy concluded.

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