Professor of Music & Head of Department
Tel: (+353 1) 708 3733
Fiona M. Palmer was appointed Professor and Head of NUI Maynooth's Music Department in 2007. Stemming from her dual background as a musicologist and professional performer Fiona’s publications primarily focus on music and musicians in the marketplace in the long nineteenth century (see below for more information).
Since October 2007 the Music Department has continued to expand, developing and refining its programmes and resources across the full range of provision. The Department's significant role in hosting conferences, concerts and other events is notable. Particular highlights have included: the conferring of an honorary DMus on the eminent Polish composer Prof. Krzysztof Penderecki (September 2010); collaborations with Camerata Ireland and Castletown House; and the 25th-anniversary celebration of the Department's Chamber Choir in the presence of President Mary McAleese (May 2011). In 2013 the Department was delighted to host the Tenth Anniversary Plenary Conference of the Society for Musicology in Ireland - a particularly meaningful gathering for NUI Maynooth since we were home to the first of the SMI's conferences in 2003.
Current Research Projects
Fiona's current research projects draw directly on her interests as music historian and orchestral player. Work in progress includes a study of the emergence of orchestral conducting and its networks in 19th-century Britain. Within this larger project she is engaged in researching the first one hundred years of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society’s history (1840-1940). Articles currently in the press include a contextualization of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society's conductors in the second half of the nineteenth century. Her chapter examining the inauguration of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society's Hall (1849): 'A Home for the 'Phil': Liverpool's First Philharmonic Hall (1849)' has recently appeared in P. Rodmell ed., Music and Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Ashgate, 2012). Other focal research topics include a consideration of the wider issues of status, training and image-making among such figures as Sir Julius Benedict and Sir Frederic Hymen Cowen. In 2011 she participated in a EU-funded workshop on choral movements and nationalism (Antwerp) under the auspices of the National Movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe project. Recent invited lectures include events at the Royal College of Music (London) Grove Forum and ongoing involvement in the AHRC-funded CMPCP Orchestra as Global Phenomenon project. Conferences during 2012 included the Annual SMI Plenary in Dundalk and the Seventeenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music in Edinburgh. In 2013 contributed to a keynote panel at the CMPCP's Second International Performance Studies Network Conference (University of Cambridge, April) and gave a paper connected to the 200th anniversary of the Royal Philharmonic Society at the Ninth Biennial Conference on Music in Nineteenth Century Britain (University of Cardiff, June). Fiona featured as a guest reviewer for RTE's book programme Off The Shelf in April 2013 in which Leonard Slatkin's Conducting Business: Unveiling the Mystery behind the Maestro was discussed (a podcast of that episode is currently available here).
Fiona’s most recent monograph is Vincent Novello (1781–1861): Music for the Masses (Ashgate Publishing, December 2006). This is the first large-scale reappraisal of the career of the pioneering London-based editor and publisher. It follows on neatly from her book Dragonetti in England (1794-1846): the Career of a Double Bass Virtuoso (Oxford University Press, 1997). The life and work of each of these distinguished musicians illuminates our understanding of the cultural marketplace in London during the nineteenth century. Both were successful entrepreneurs whose impact on musical life and the development of performance practice was considerable.
Fiona is also the author of a history of concerts at Birmingham’s Barber Institute of Fine Arts, and has written and revised entries for New Grove 2, the New Dictionary of National Biography, Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, the Dictionary of Hymnology and the forthcoming Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland. Published articles can be found in Music and Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Britain, the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 19th-Century British Music Studies 3, The Strad, and Muzio Clementi: Studies & Prospects. Reviews and review-articles can be found in the Musical Times, Handel Association Newsletter, Early Music, and the Journal of the Society for Musicology Ireland. Recent conference papers and invited lectures have been delivered in Liverpool, the USA, Italy, London, Bristol, Birmingham, Dublin, Cardiff and Cambridge.
Performing Background & Overview CV
Fiona is a double bassist, mezzo soprano and flautist. From an early age she was lucky enough to be trained via the Northamptonshire Music Service and participated in multiple ensembles, recitals, international tours and residential courses. As a first-class graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire with double bass as her first study, she freelanced with many ensembles, especially the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra from 1989 until 1997. During these years the CBSO enjoyed the stewardship of Sir Simon Rattle and Fiona was involved with recordings under the direction of such maestri as Walter Weller and Paarvo Jaervi; she also spent some time as a member of New Zealand’s Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Fiona undertook her doctoral work, on Dragonetti, at Birmingham University (1990-1993) and was fortunate to enjoy the mentorship of Professor Cyril Ehrlich alongside supervision from Professors Basil Deane and Colin Timms. From 1997 to 1999 she was Manager of the Examinations Department at the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in London. During this time she project-managed the groundbreaking Diploma 2000 Syllabus and liaised with educational agencies (such as QCA) over matters of comparability. She moved to Northern Ireland in July 1999 to work at Queen's University Belfast becoming Senior Lecturer in 2002. During her eight years at QUB she reformed the Performance Programme, convened the BMus degree, taught modules across the curriculum (at undergraduate and postgraduate levels) and served on committees at School, University and national level. She also regularly played the double bass on a freelance basis with the Ulster Orchestra, travelling with them to New York and to perform at the BBC London Promenade Concerts.
Formerly a Councillor of the Royal Musical Association, Fiona is currently an elected Councillor of the Society for Musicology Ireland (3rd consecutive term). She also serves on the Boards of the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland and the Humanities Research Institute An Foras Feasa.
She has recently acted as External Examiner for Dundalk Institute of Technology, has served as a Chair for HETAC and been involved in inter-institutional curricular discussions. She is also a member of the International Advisory Board for the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle.