On Tuesday evening, I shall be playing the second of Bach’s French Suites in a concert at Senate House, University of London as part of a celebration of 10 years of the Institute of Musical Research.
The IMR, of which I was Director, 2009-11, is the youngest of the 10 institutes of the School of Advanced Study at London University. SAS was a natural home for the UK’s national music research institute, and within it, IMR has made a tremendous contribution to musical scholarship during the past decade, at home and abroad. But from 1 August it will transfer out of SAS to the Music Department of Royal Holloway, under the stewardship of the excellent Dr Geoff Baker. At Royal Holloway, the IMR will, I’m sure, begin to flourish once again in an environment where musical scholarship in all its breadth is properly understood and valued.
It is remarkable, given the saddening combination of financial and management pressures that have been wielded within HE generally in recent times, that my successor as Director, Dr Paul Archbold, has been able to develop the IMR so thoughtfully since 2011, introducing significant new strands of research documentation. I pay tribute to his brilliance as Director, and likewise that of my predecessor, Prof. Katharine Ellis who delivered me with a thriving enterprise when I arrived in Senate House in 2009. For me, it was an immense privilege to lead the IMR at an important stage in its development as it sought to establish ever-greater breadth of coverage across our diverse discipline. I was especially keen to broaden its engagement with the tremendously vibrant performance research going on in conservatoires, as well as university departments. Partly, that’s what the historical performance research centre, DeNOTE was for, though its presence has since transformed into a period-instrument group performing across the UK and now with several commercial recordings released, giving broader impact to the IMR’s work outside of an HE setting.
I should also pay tribute to Sir Nicholas Kenyon (a patient and wise Chair of the Advisory Council throughout my tenure, and since); to the support and vision of Sir Graeme Davies (former Vice-Chancellor of London University) and Dame Janet Ritterman (IMR Advisory Council) who appointed me to the Directorship; to Valerie James, the IMR’s Administrator until 2014, to whose dedication and administrative flair British Musical scholarship owes a tremendous debt; and most of all to the former Acting Dean of the School of Advanced Study, Professor Mike Edwards, whose genuine and sincere understanding of and love for the Humanities – and the central place of Music within them – was everything that one could wish for as an Institute Director. Mike’s vision and support for the role of the IMR when he was Dean actively encouraged the Institute to grow, and not to be afraid to experiment with new ideas. Under his leadership (until 2010), SAS had its priorities right: financial stewardship wisely deployed as an enabling tool to foster excellence across a diverse range of the humanities and social sciences in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, rather than as a divisive weapon.
I am absolutely delighted that a new and better way forward has been found for IMR. I now look forward to its future – serving as a member of its Advisory Council – confident that, with a return to enlightened and humane values, it will once again flourish.