CMPCP’s research projects were designed to involve UK-based institutions in formal collaborations; for example, the project directed by John Rink centred on two major London conservatoires (Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Royal College of Music), whereas Eric Clarke’s Oxford-based project embraced a number of associated universities with particular strengths in composition and performance. These links directly involved a large number of UK-based performance researchers in CMPCP’s work. CMPCP also attempted to unite research effort that has typically been fragmented across different institutions and disciplines: that is why its projects included workshops linked in turn to the Performance Studies Network, enabling interested individuals (from within higher education institutions as well as outside them) to contribute to a widely owned research agenda and ensuring dissemination of outputs through conferences. In short, CMPCP’s projects were intended as one element within a broad enhancement of research capacity in musical performance across and beyond the UK. The programme of Visiting Fellowships added to this by enabling individuals to become intensively connected with CMPCP’s research during defined periods, representing a means of engaging with others on an international basis. The Centre also benefited from the input of designated CMPCP Associates, most of whom were based in institutions outside the formal partnership but who provided high-level input to the Centre’s research programme on an ongoing basis.
Some of the most important collaborative activity undertaken by CMPCP was with performing musicians. Indeed, the participation of performers at all levels of expertise, and across a wide variety of musical traditions, was vital to CMPCP’s work. Not only did all of the research projects rely upon the direct involvement of performers (whether ensemble musicians, as in Eric Clarke’s and Tina K. Ramnarine’s research, or solo performers, as in Daniel Leech-Wilkinson’s and John Rink’s projects), but musicians also played a central, essential role in the Performance Studies Network, in project workshops, in the CMPCP conferences, and in other areas of the Centre’s research programme. CMPCP also thrived upon the advice of and close interaction with leading groups such as the three ensembles-in-residence at the University of Cambridge, i.e. the Britten Sinfonia, the Endellion String Quartet, and the Academy of Ancient Music, as well as others beyond Cambridge itself. By way of example, interaction of this sort took the form of the observation of rehearsals to determine how decision-making takes place in ensemble contexts (work undertaken by one of John Rink’s recent PhD students, in parallel to the similarly conceived study that Tina K. Ramnarine pursued). There was also the opportunity to develop teaching and workshop opportunities featuring leading players from these and other groups. CMPCP was regularly in dialogue with the Barbican Centre, London Symphony Orchestra, Centre for Orchestra, National Gallery, Institute of Musical Research and other organisations with a view to running study days, open rehearsals, lecture series and other public events, all of which focused on and involved the participation of performing musicians. The Centre had a roster of distinguished Affiliate Artists, including Alfred Brendel, Simon Channing, Margaret Faultless, Christopher Hogwood, Janis Kelly, Joanna MacGregor, Madeleine Mitchell, Helen Reid, Susan Tomes, the four members of the Endellion Quartet (Andrew Watkinson, Ralph de Souza, Garfield Jackson and David Waterman), and six members of the Britten Sinfonia – Nicholas Daniel, Caroline Dearnley, Claire Finnimore, Alexandra Reid, Jacqueline Shave and Lucy Wakeford. Thus, performance lay at the very heart not only of CMPCP’s name but, more significantly, of its research agenda and all the activity emerging from it.
In January 2012 the AHRC awarded a research grant for a project entitled ‘Measuring and enhancing expressive musical performance with digital instruments’, which was carried out collaboratively between the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) at Queen Mary, University of London and CMPCP. The project, which ended in September 2012, involved researchers in electronic engineering, computer science and musical performance studies, and examined how electronically enhanced acoustic instruments could be used to build numerical models of expression in performance and, conversely, how musicians’ perspectives on performance could guide the design of new digital instruments.
In 2013 a research grant was awarded to John Rink and other colleagues under the British Academy’s International Partnership and Mobility Scheme; the aim of this funding was to pursue a one-year collaborative research project between the University of Cambridge and the University of São Paulo on the subject ‘Cross-cultural perspectives on the creative development of choirs and choral conductors’. This project, which was directly tied to CMPCP’s research agenda, offered valuable opportunities to extend and complement the Centre’s range of activity.