JAMES TIBBLES

Teaching & Research

I am passionate about sharing my excitement about how we can make our music 'live'.

Whether it be private lessons, masterclasses, residencies, lectures, lecture-recitals or academic conference papers, I am a fervent believer in the power of the spoken word to engage with the important elements of music-making and of thinking about music.

My approach to performance is, first, one of respecting historical context. But that is quickly followed by attention to the essential task of making the music come alive. For me, this is achieved by developing musical and artistic freedom, based on a firmly grounded instrumental technique.

At the University of Auckland I teach undergraduate courses in Historic Performance Practice - core courses for all performance majors - where students develop an understanding of the fundamental concepts associated with approaching music making in an historical context. Freed from the limitations of 'habitual performance traditions' of the recent past, students are encouraged to develop an enquiring spirit, finding fresh inspirations to empower their own performances. At postgraduate level the emphasis turns towards study of specific areas of repertoire or instrument-specific topics, based on primary source evidence, supported by study of recent research.

Early Keyboard study is embedded into the syllabus of piano and organ majors, as well as being available as a major in its own right. All piano students study clavichord, harpsichord and fortepiano. Each semester an average of 17 students delve into CPE Bach, Turk, Louis Couperin, Bach, Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven, finding fresh approaches to sound generation and expressivity in the clavichord, exploring 18th century musical gestures on harpsichord, and finding 'old' / new approaches to more familiar Classical repertoire of the fortepiano. Optional subsequent study pathways include 1ater 19th century piano, historic organ, continuo playing and ensemble directing.

Through this programme we are seeing the development of a new breed of keyboard player - one who is able to express themselves on a variety of instruments, accessing a multiplicity of performing traditions and performance practices. Increasingly we are finding singers and performers of other instruments keen to work alongisde players of historic instruments from the 17th- to late 19th- centuries, creating an environment that is rich in enquiry.

 

Historic organ study at Auckland University centres around the 17th century North German /Dutch schools, French Classical repertoire, and that of 18th century central Germany.

 

The Early Music Department offers tuition in baroque strings, flute, recorder, baroque trumpet and cornetto, in addition to keyboards.

 

Students of modern instruments and voice have opportunities to explore baroque and classical repertoire through the university ensemble Collegium Musicum, Auckland.

 

As you can see, my own professional life as a performer and recording artist on early keyboards, and as an early music specialist and ensemble director is paralleled in my teaching and research. 

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