Professor Richard Wistreich, Dean of Research and Enterprise at of the Royal Northern College of Music, recently delivered a seminar on the historical and sociological links between reading and music making as part of Trinity Laban's Research Seminar series. The Flash spoke to him about his experience as a performer and a researcher, and about the place of research within a conservatoire environment.
Professor Wistreich's wide ranging career has taken him from an internationally renowned professional singer and teacher to the Royal Northern College of Music, via a stint as Head of Music at Newcastle University. His experience across these different musical arenas allows him to approach music as both a researcher and a performer, from the different perspectives of university, conservatoire and professional practice.
He described his interest in research as having grown organically out of his performing career:
"I see research as the opportunity for performers to ask themselves the questions they come up against when performing, but never find the time to answer. The one informs the other, and vice versa.
"Practitioners working with researchers allow each greater understanding of where the other is coming from, thereby enriching the research and practice of both. Such collaboration allows performers to gain understanding and answer the questions that come up in their daily practice, and allows researchers to engage with the immediate, practical issues surrounding music performance today."
Professor Wistreich is a champion of the new ' Musical Impact' campaign to lead the world's largest ever study into the health and wellbeing of performing musicians. He says:
"The success of this campaign is an important sign that attitudes surrounding research and performance are changing fast, and the idea that practice is a legitimate subject of research is gaining more widespread acceptance. Performers can be researchers too: that is, I believe, the most valuable message I have for today's students at Trinity Laban."
Trinity Laban's Research Seminar series is organised by the Research Department, which regularly holds seminars, symposia and other events. Recent seminars include an interview with Random Dance's Wayne McGregor, and a discussion of aesthetics and historicity by Trinity Laban's own Dr Jonathan Clark.
A full list of upcoming seminars can be found at trinitylaban.ac.uk/research/seminars-events