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Performing arts takes centre stage as Cambridge University announces new music centre




Music will be at the heart of university life when the Centre for Music Performance is unveiled at the end of the year.

Cambridge University wants the city to be associated with performing arts. Pictures: Images of CUJO copyright Hideaway Streatham. Image of Conducting and Concerto Competition winners copyright Tom Porteous
Cambridge University wants the city to be associated with performing arts. Pictures: Images of CUJO copyright Hideaway Streatham. Image of Conducting and Concerto Competition winners copyright Tom Porteous

The University of Cambridge initiative will “transform the visibility, scale, ambition and reach of musical life at Cambridge”, and contribute to the recovery of the physical university in the wake of the pandemic, and is an important signal of Cambridge’s ongoing commitment to the performing arts.

The announcement heralds a step-change in music of all genres for outreach and inclusion, and for wellbeing across collegiate Cambridge. Maintaining a tradition of excellence, it will also “seal the university’s position on a world stage for music performance”.

A university spokesperson said: “The Centre for Music Performance will be a seedbed of experimentation and innovation. A radical commitment to diversity will offer more opportunities to more students than ever before, to explore new styles of music-making and performance.”

The search is now on for a new director to take up their post in early autumn.

The vice-chancellor, Professor Stephen J Toope, said: “At a time of unprecedented stress for the performing arts, I am proud that Cambridge is creating a new Centre for Music Performance. A step-change in the visibility, breadth, reach and role of music performance, it will nurture the highest aspirations of the very best performers, besides offering a wonderful array of opportunities to those with previously limited experience.

“In the long run the centre will be a stimulus for interdisciplinarity, research excellence and all-round personal development. I am thrilled to see the Centre for Music Performance go ahead at Cambridge.”

Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, at the official launch at the Boat House near Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell
Professor Stephen J Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, at the official launch at the Boat House near Ely. Picture: Keith Heppell

The senior pro-vice chancellor (education), Professor Graham Virgo, said: “This is one of the many ways Cambridge University is expressing its commitment to outreach, inclusion and diversity. We expect this centre to build on our excellent array of musical endeavour to draw more students into the cultural life of the university, building their skills and confidence and supporting their wellbeing.”

Dr Anthony Freeling, chair, colleges’ committee, and president of Hughes Hall, said: “The Cambridge colleges are well-known as a seedbed of musical life; the Centre for Music Performance will not only support this but enhance its connectivity and visibility so that more students are attracted to, and can fully enjoy, the proven benefits of music performance.”

Chair of the Faculty Board of Music and 1684 Professor of Music Katharine Ellis said: “The Faculty of Music is delighted to see the new Centre for Music Performance come into being. This new hub will be a game-changer supporting musicians right across the University, from soon-to-be professionals to those for whom music offers precious release from the stresses of intensive study. It will be a beacon for Cambridge’s already rich musical life and will enable students to access its variety more readily than ever before. We look forward to contributing to the Centre for Music Performance’s success.”

The chair of the Cambridge University Musical Society (CUMS) trustees, Dame Fiona Reynolds, said: “CUMS has carried the flag for excellence in music performance at Cambridge for many years. During that time we have nurtured a host of young people for whom music is life-giving, from world-leading professional musicians to skilled amateurs.

“The Centre for Music Performance is the opportunity we have been looking for to take this to the next level, offering more students than ever before the opportunity to work with each other and professional artists from a wide range of genres in an atmosphere that fosters creativity and innovation.”



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