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Record-breaking research grants awarded to the Royal College of Music
Source: Premier

The Royal College of Music (RCM) has been awarded three grants totaling almost £1 million for new research projects launching in 2019/20. The figure represents the highest amount of funding the RCM has received ahead of a new academic year to date and reflects its position as a global leader in rigorous research that combines traditional methods with musical performance and practice.

The three newly funded projects will investigate a diverse range of global issues in the context of the history, legacy and application of music. Research areas include the effect of migration from Nazi Europe on post-war classical music in Britain; using music to support families affected by the Zika virus in Brazil; and the ways in which music interventions in hospital maternity wards can support the professional development of musicians.

‘Music, Migration and Mobility: The Legacy of Migrant Musicians from Nazi-Europe in Britain’ has been awarded £900,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This major interdisciplinary project will explore the effects of migration on post-war British musical culture. Led by RCM researcher and vocal coach Norbert Meyn, it will run for three years and study the creative output of musicians who came to Britain from Nazi-ruled Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. The project will shed new light on the experiences of post-war migrants and probe the challenges of performing and mediating a largely unknown body of work by migrant composers for today’s audiences.

The outcomes of ‘Music, Migration and Mobility’ will include a series of open rehearsal workshops, public performances and recordings, along with an ambitious programme of archival research in the UK, Germany, Austria and the Isle of Man. Online resources and public performances will tell the musicians’ newly-uncovered stories and reveal the roles they played in forming some of Britain’s most important classical music institutions, such as Glyndebourne, the BBC and the Royal Opera House.

Lead researcher Norbert Meyn will work in collaboration with two co-investigators, Peter Adey, Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London and Nils Grosch, Professor of Musicology at Salzburg University. He comments: ‘I am hugely excited about this opportunity to work with an international and multi-disciplinary team in a project that puts the music of migrants at centre stage. I hope it will enable us to understand better the significance of migration and mobility for music and contribute to wider debates about the impact of migration on British life.’

Additionally, the RCM has been awarded a £50,000 British Academy Knowledge Frontiers grant to fund collaborative research between Dr Tania Lisboa and Dr Rosie Perkins at the RCM and Dr Diana Santiago at the University of Bahia in Brazil. The project is entitled ‘Managing the psychological needs of families affected by the Zika virus: Exploring the impact of music as a social tool’ and will investigate the role music can have in supporting mothers to bond with small children affected by the Zika virus.

Building on the previous pioneering RCM project ‘Music and Motherhood’ which investigated the role of music-making in supporting mothers experiencing symptoms of post-natal depression, this 18 month project’s findings will be fed back into hospital practices and made available to practitioners and clinicians throughout South America.

Dr Tania Lisboa comments: ‘Receiving the funding for this project is particularly exciting as it marks a significant development of the RCM’s strategy to share expertise with researchers in the developing world. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to pool our collective research expertise and test the effectiveness of practical musical activities in initiating and developing bonds between parents and children affected by the Zika virus.’

Finally, Dr Rosie Perkins has been awarded €33,000 by Dutch research funder SIA as part of a larger trans-European RAAK-PRO grant for a project examining the professional development of musicians and nurses through person-centred improvisation in hospital settings. Alongside researchers from Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, The Netherlands and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, among others, Dr Perkins will work extensively with musicians on the maternity wards at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The project will include the participation of RCM alumni and students, providing them with training and support for working with live music in hospital maternity settings. Dr Perkins comments: ‘This project adds to the RCM’s impressive portfolio of work in arts and health, allowing our researchers and musicians to work together to discover new learning contexts and to connect with new audiences. We’re delighted to be part of the trans-European research team and to have the opportunity to further our research on music in maternity contexts’.


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