DMA Student Risa Tonita named a UBC Public Scholar for 2023/24!

Now entering its ninth year, The Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) has announced 43 new doctoral students for the 2023/24 academic year, including DMA Student in Piano Performance Risa Tonita.

Risa Tonita is a pianist and singer. Her performance features extended techniques such as playing on the strings and pins inside the instrument, using her physical voice to tell a story while playing the piano, and adding items to the strings to create a prepared piano.

Risa spoke with UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) about her research inspired by the work of political philosopher Hannah Arendt and feminist philosopher Adriana Cavarero, that focuses on works for piano by women and how pianists can take political action.

“My goal is to offer pianists relatable ways in which they can approach these pieces and by extension relate more deeply to their audiences by creating a reciprocal concert space.”
DMA Student


Tonita in New Hampshire to study the archival material of American Composer Amy Beach.

“I imagine a scholar who is not only interacting with other scholars through academic endeavours but who is actively engaging with people in their community in meaningful ways.”
DMA Student

Risa Tonita graduated with a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music in piano performance from the University of Ottawa under the guidance of Frédéric Lacroix and holds a “Diplôme d’études musicales” from a conservatory in France, where Tonita has just returned from after visiting the Bibliothèque nationale de France to study Ravel’s archives.

Tonita is currently in the Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano (DMA) program. Her supervisors are Associate Professor of Musicology Hedy Law and Professor, Piano and Chamber Music Corey Hamm.