Alumna Felicity Smith’s work published posthumously with the help of PhD student Kathleen Gerrard

A casual conversation about travel plans to Paris led to Kathleen (Kate) Gerrard working on Felicity Smith’s catalogue of René Drouard de Bousset’s music, which has recently been published as part of a database by the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles.

Felicity Smith was a model student, so much so that when Kate was doing her Master’s at the New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī in 2010, her supervisor Associate Prof Greer Garden would talk about Felicity’s Master’s thesis as the ‘gold standard’. Felicity subsequently went on to build a promising career as a mezzo-soprano after graduating from NZSM, but sadly passed away in 2013 from a pulmonary embolism while living in London.

It was during a conversation about travel in 2018 with NZSM Director Sally Jane Norman that Kate learnt that Felicity’s parents, Alan and Carol Smith, had been hoping to complete the work Felicity had been undertaking to publish her Master’s thesis, a catalogue of all of French Baroque composer René Drouard de Bousset’s (1703–1760) works. Kate had mentioned that she was heading off on a trip to Paris, both in a personal capacity and to undertake preliminary research on her intended doctoral project, and had planned to visit the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles. Sally Jane, aware that Felicity’s work had its origins at the Centre, made the connection and suggested that she make some introductions by email.

After meeting with Alan and Carol over morning tea, Kate offered to help them with the project, despite it not being part of any formal academic study. She says “I felt strongly that the work would be a tribute to both Greer and Felicity, while also involving French Baroque music, my area of research. I knew just how important this project was so didn’t hesitate in offering to help bring it to fruition.”

Kathleen Gerrard
Kathleen (Kate) Gerrard

Kate arranged to meet with the Director Barbara Nestola while at the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, in order to discuss what was required in order to complete the work, and Barbara was enthusiastic about publishing the catalogue. By the end of 2018 Kate had contributed the introduction, a summary of Felicity’s Master’s thesis including context around Bousset, which was required for the catalogue to be finished. Now in 2020 the project has come to fruition, with the Centre having published the catalogue online.

Kate is now doing her PhD at NZSM, on French Baroque music with a focus on opera, supervised by Prof Samantha Owens.

Felicity and Kate were both supervised by Greer Garden, who, together with Prof Peter Walls, created a strong legacy of Baroque studies at the school. Kate says that Greer was “the perfect supervisor—encouraging, very gentle in her approach but also very particular and didn’t let anything slip.” Greer’s own ongoing research project had been a catalogue of the music of Jean-Baptiste de Bousset, René Drouard de Bousset’s father. In undertaking this work, Greer was aware that there was another project to complete, which presumably provided Felicity with an ideal Master’s research project.

Prof Samantha Owens—who was another of Greer’s students—says that it’s “really wonderful to see Felicity’s research project completed through Kate’s generous contribution. The posthumous publication of her catalogue marks another significant milestone in NZSM’s long history of scholarly and practical engagement with Baroque music at the highest levels.“