Man playing a lute

Historical performance

Historically informed performance of music is alive and thriving
You can specialise in any historical instrument or study historical vocal practice at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Become part of a team of scholarly performers who regularly collaborate with industry partners.

What is historical performance?

Historical performance is a rich and fascinating way of making music that has taken the world by storm. We examine the artefacts of music performance (written evidence and sound recordings when they exist) to find evidence and insights into how music of past eras was interpreted and expected to be performed.

We then use our musical intuition to fill in gaps in knowledge and to bring repertoire to life in fresh and innovative ways.

We offer principal study tuition in historical vocal practices and historical instruments including:

  • historical string instruments: violin, viola, cello, viola da gamba, violone, bass
  • historical voice
  • historical plucked instruments: lute, theorbo, guitar, harp
  • historical wind instruments: recorder, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, cornetto
  • historical brass instruments: trumpet, horn, sackbut
  • historical keyboards: harpsichord, chamber organ, clavichord, fortepiano, 19th-century piano
  • guzheng, pipa, dizi and other Chinese instruments

The Conservatorium is a vibrant centre for the study of historical performance, with a thriving culture in this field.

  • Hone your skills in solo repertoire and get individual training with experts in the field of historical performance.
  • Attend masterclasses and workshops delivered by local and international artists.
  • Gain valuable chamber music and orchestral music training and experience through chamber music studies and participation in our period-instrument orchestra, the Early Music Ensemble, which performs several varied concert programs each year.
  • Undertake a range of academic studies in historical performance and historical musicology.
  • Participate in weekly undergraduate performance workshops offering constructive tutor and peer feedback.
  • Access our wide range of historical instruments – including an expanding collection of historical keyboards.
  • Learn from our academic staff, including internationally recognised musicians who perform regularly with leading national and international ensembles that foster historically informed performance such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Ironwood, Australian Haydn Ensemble, Muffat Collective, the Orchestra of the Antipodes, Pinchgut Opera, Salut! Baroque, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, English Baroque Soloists, Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique, and Anima Aeterna.
  • Professor Neal Peres Da Costa, Historical Performance and Early Keyboards; Associate Dean (Research)
  • Associate Professor Erin Helyard, Early Keyboards
  • Dr Alan Maddox, Senior Lecturer in Rhetorical Performance and Musicology; Program Leader Bachelor of Music (Musicology)
  • Dr Daniel Yeadon, Senior Lecturer in Cello and Viola da Gamba
  • Dr Lu Liu, Lecturer in Chinese Music Performance and Ethnomusicology
  • Dr Anthony Abouhamad, Casual Lecturer in Continuo
  • Ms Rachael Beesley, Casual Lecturer in Violin
  • Mr Andrew Doyle, Casual Lecturer in Clarinet
  • Ms Melissa Farrow, Casual Lecturer in Flute
  • Mr Rafael Font, Casual Lecturer in Violin
  • Ms Nicole Forsyth, Casual Lecturer in Viola
  • Mr Matthew Greco, Casual Lecturer in Violin
  • Mr Benjamin Hoadley, Casual Lecturer in Bassoon
  • Ms Esther Kim, Casual Lecturer in Early Keyboard (Clavichord)
  • Mr Matthew Manchester, Casual Lecturer in Cornetto and Pre-Baroque Practice
  • Mr Hans-Dieter Michatz, Casual Lecturer in Recorder and Flute
  • Ms Anna Sandstrom, Casual Lecturer in Historical Voice
  • Ms Nicole van Bruggen, Casual Lecturer in Clarinet
  • Ms Joanna Tondys, Casual Lecturer in Early Keyboard (Harpsichord)
  • Mr Owen Watkins, Casual Lecturer in Oboe

As a student specialising in Historical Performance, you will learn skills to become:

  • a professional historically informed performance vocalist or instrumental soloist
  • a member of a world-class chamber and/or orchestral ensemble specialising in historically informed performance
  • a researcher in historical performance who can produce both traditional and non-traditional research outputs
  • a historical performance educator at both pre-tertiary and tertiary levels.

What are my study options with historical performance?