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Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies (CMPS)

The Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies was launched in April 2015, following on from the £2.1m AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice, which was hosted by the University of Cambridge from 2009 to 2015. The CMPS is an important feature of Cambridge’s rich and unrivalled musical scene. Its fundamental aim is to contribute to and encourage the development of musical performance studies close to home and across the globe, and to that end it is developing close links both nationally and internationally with individuals and institutions in music and the other arts. The CMPS promotes and supports an ambitious programme of teaching, research, performance events and collaborative pursuits across a broad spectrum. It also provides resources for the benefit of scholars and practitioners interested in the study of performance.

The CMPS regularly hosts practice-based research events as well as select performances, both individually and in collaboration with internal and external partners. These activities include a series of ‘Practising Performance’ events and the Performance Studies Forum, which includes performance/research seminars (run in collaboration with the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Institute of Musical Research in London), a postgraduate/postdoctoral reading group, and ‘talk and play’ events. In the Practising Performance series, the Faculty of Music has hosted classes with Michael Chance, Nicholas Cleobury, Ross Duffin, Richard Egarr, Sir Mark Elder, Ketil Haugsand, Steven Isserlis, Andrew Kennedy, Joanna MacGregor, Nicholas Mulroy, Sir Roger Norrington, Verity Sharp, Jeremy West and many other significant performers; in 2017-18 alone, the series featured sessions led by Sir Mark Elder, Sian Edwards, Tom Poster and Michael Chance. Students have also worked with players from the Academy of Ancient Music in Side-by-Side Events.

The CMPS supports the performance studies pathways offered by the Faculty of Music for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Performance options are available at all levels of the undergraduate Tripos, as are opportunities for practice-based research. The M.Phil. in Music Studies features two performance studies options – one including a recital (with accompanying extended essay), the other leading to a dissertation. A practice-based option is also available at doctoral level. These opportunities to fuse academic enquiry into performance with actual music-making are especially well developed at Cambridge.

The Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies embraces a range of research initiatives, some of which are practice-based. One recent example of performance-based research in the Faculty is a project on choral music from ‘cross-cultural perspectives’; this featured a collaboration between Cambridge specialists and a number of choirs and choral experts in Brazil. Another project under the auspices of CMPCP looked at how the ‘creative voice’ of individual musicians developed at two collaborating conservatoires in London, where observations took place both in teaching studios and practice rooms. The CMPS is forging additional links with ensembles and individual scholars and practitioners interested in performance studies and practice-based research.

The CMPS also hosts PERF-STUD-NET, an e-list established in 2009 by CMPS’s predecessor, and it has oversight of the biennial Performance Studies Network conferences, the first three of which took place in Cambridge (2011, 2013 and 2014), while more recent PSN conferences have been held in Bath Spa (2016) and Oslo (2018).

The Centre is led by Professor John Rink, working in collaboration with Dr Martin Ennis and Professor Margaret Faultless (Associate Directors) and other members of the Cambridge musical community.