Uniarts Helsinki to start the preparation of a master’s programme in musical theatre

Uniarts Helsinki has started a project with the support of the Pacius Fund, which explores the possibility of starting a joint master’s degree in musical theatre between the Sibelius Academy and the Theatre Academy in the fall of 2024.

Roosa Oksaharju

The two-year master’s programme in musical theatre (120 credits) would offer the highest education in the field in Finland. Musical theatre is one of the few art fields that currently does not have an educational continuum from a lower university degree to a master’s degree.

“Musical theatre is in a great way at the intersection of the art fields represented by Uniarts Helsinki. The first master’s degree jointly offered by two academies will create desired student mobility in our multidisciplinary community,” says Tuuli Talvitie, Sibelius Academy Vice dean in charge of preparing the master’s programme.

Currently as the only Nordic organiser of master’s education in musical theatre, Uniarts Helsinki would be a trend setter internationally as well.

A master’s programme that meets the needs of the field

The master’s programme in musical theatre is long-awaited nationally, as it responds to the needs of a rapidly developing field. The number of musical theatre works in the Finnish theatre repertoire is considerable and continues to grow. According to theatre programme statistics (Tinfo), six of the ten best-selling works represented purely musical theatre or musicals in the 2020-2021 performance season.

Since 2017, the Uniarts Helsinki Open Campus has offered a musical theatre performer study module (10-30 credits) for master’s level students and musical theatre professionals. About ten students have participated in the study module each academic year.

“Musical theatre is a very demanding art form, as it requires professional-level mastery of several different skillsets. The core of the planned master’s programme would be built on three top skills, i.e. singing and voice control, acting, as well as dance and movement,” says Talvitie.

The plan is to enhance these core competences with other contents that support students’ growth as artists. From eight to ten degree students would be selected to the programme annually.

A programme that renews and diversifies the Finnish musical theatre field

The international level master’s programme is intended to act as a renewing, diversifying and level-raising force in the Finnish theatre field, which is based on an active dialogue with working life.

“Collaboration with professional theatres and international partner schools enables us to keep a finger on the pulse and reflect on our activities,” says Talvitie.

The goal is to also search for and study new forms of making musical theatre as well as promote domestic and international research in the field.

Parts of the degree, such as acting, singing and voice control, and dance, also serve as continuing education of various professional groups and also meet the need for pedagogical continuing education in the field.

Preparation group to start planning of the programme

To support the planning of the new master’s programme, a preparatory group has been established, whose task is to ensure the high-quality implementation of the preparatory project and utilisation of the expertise of the academies and Open Campus in the different phases of the work. The group has representation from Sibelius Academy, Theatre Academy and Open Campus, and it reports to the chair of the group, Tuuli Talvitie, Sibelius Academy Vice dean.

The composition of the preparatory group for the master’s programme in musical theater from 1 January to 31 December 2023:

  • Tuuli Talvitie, Vice dean, Sibelius Academy, chair
  • Project manager to be recruited, Sibelius Academy, secretary of the preparatory group
  • Hanna Hurskainen, lecturer, Open Campus
  • Markku Luuppala, lecturer, Theatre Academy
  • Jenni Lättilä, head of Vocal Arts department, Sibelius Academy
  • Aija Puurtinen, lecturer, Sibelius Academy
  • Ville Sandqvist, Vice dean, Theatre Academy
  • Sanna Takala, Education manager, Open Campus

If necessary, the rector decides on supplementing the working group and inviting new members due to possible personnel changes.

More information: Sibelius Academy Vice Dean Tuuli Talvitie, tuuli.talvitie@uniarts.fi and 050 911 8897