Medal hits the right note for aca­demic

Central Leader - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

Hear­ing he’d won a pres­ti­gious medal for shed­ding light on 18th cen­tury tunes was mu­sic to Dean Sut­cliffe’s ears.

The Auck­land Uni­ver­sity as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor is the first New Zealan­der and one of only two peo­ple in the south­ern hemi­sphere to re­ceive a Dent Medal from the Royal Mu­si­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

The medal is named af­ter Ed­ward J Dent, the first pro­fes­sor of mu­sic at Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity.

An in­ter­est in mu­sic, its dif­fer­ent styles and why those styles change earned Mr Sut­cliffe the ac­co­lade, which has been recog­nis­ing out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to mu­sic study since 1961.

“It’s a nice hon­our in recog­ni­tion of work done,” he says.

“You re­ally get a sense of what your peers think of you.”

Un­til 2006 the Hills­bor­ough res­i­dent had spent 22 years in Cam­bridge, Eng­land, study­ing and lec­tur­ing in mu­sic at the uni­ver­sity.

Dur­ing that time he pro­duced re- search that analy­ses the work of clas­si­cal com­posers such as Aus­trian Joseph Haydn.

“His cer­tain style of key­board writ­ing ap­pealed to me. It is a comic style of mu­sic, op­ti­mistic, bright, chirpy, funny and quick chang­ing,” he says.

He says aris­to­crats and royalty warmed to the light-hearted so­cial mu­sic that cre­ated con­tro­versy at the time be­cause it was writ­ten for the “up­per ech­e­lons of so­ci­ety” rather than main­tain­ing a re­li­gious el­e­ment.

The Royal Mu­si­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of­fers high praise to Mr Sut­cliffe, who will be pre­sented with his medal in Lon­don next year.

“He has shed new light on works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven with which we thought we were fa­mil­iar,” says the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Auck­land Uni­ver­sity’s head of mu­sic Pro­fes­sor Robert Con­sta­ble says this type of in­ter­na­tional ac­knowl­edge­ment is ex­tremely ex­cit­ing.

“This is a great hon­our. Dean’s work in 18th cen­tury mu­sic stud­ies is at the cut­ting edge of in­ter­na­tional schol­ar­ship.”

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Mu­si­cal medal: As­so­ciate pro­fes­sor Dean Sut­cliffe will be the first New Zealan­der to be pre­sented with a Dent Medal in Lon­don next year.

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