Portrait of Alannah Halay

Alannah Halay

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background before coming to Leeds?

I’d been adamant about getting a PhD in Music since I was thirteen. Unfortunately, my school did not teach A Level Music and so I had to study this as a “confederation student”, which entailed travelling across three different schools. I was then given a place at the University of Leeds where I could progress from BA Music, through MMus Composition, and to a PhD in Composition. Even though my PhD course took only three years, I’ve been pursuing, and subsequently studying, for this qualification for closer to thirteen years and so graduation day was incredibly poignant to me. 

I am grateful to the University of Leeds and the Access to Leeds scheme for giving me a chance when I first applied to this institution because now I have a PhD in Composition and my music has been performed internationally. In 2015, I was the  winner of the Yorkshire Young Sinfonia Composition Competition, and another one of my compositions was selected for the Gaudeamus Muziekweek Academy and performed in the Gaudeamus Muziekweek Festival the following year. I have had the opportunity to found and organise a symposium, the proceedings of which have been published by Cambridge Scholars publishing in a multi-authored book. I have also had the chance to teach Composition, Counterpoint, and Musicology at HE level, and I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Had it not been for the Access to Leeds scheme, I may not have been given a place at university to begin with. 

Describe the aspects of the course that you have enjoyed the most. 

This course has given me a platform to pursue a career as an academic researcher and develop my compositional skills. It has given me the time and facilities to study music. Studying at the University of Leeds has introduced me to like-minded people who have taken me seriously and also provided a source of inspiration for me.  

What are you planning to do once you graduate?

I am continuing to build my profile as an academic researcher and composer. One of the first things I did after handing in my PhD was write an opera, which was premiered in London earlier this year, and a solo accordion piece, which was premiered in Poland. Some of my music is going to be released on CD in Europe. I am also applying for lecturing jobs.