The appointment follows the departure of Hilary Boulding to become President of Trinity College, Oxford.
Professor Helena Gaunt, currently Vice Principal and Director of Innovation at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, has been appointed as the College’s new Principal. She will take up the post from Interim Principal, Professor George Caird, on 1st September 2018.
Conservatoire professional, musician, leader, teacher and author, Professor Gaunt’s most recent role was at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama she has provided strategic leadership in academic and artistic development, research, enterprise and internationalisation. She has also led on the School’s external relations with key partners such as the Barbican Centre, and most recently the City of London’s Culture Mile, which also includes the London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London as core partners.
Helena directs the International Reflective Conservatoire Conference hosted triennially at the Guildhall School, and is the Chair of the Innovative Conservatoire (ICON) partnership, providing pioneering professional development internationally for conservatoire teachers.
She has extensive professional experience as an oboist and member of the Britten Sinfonia, and as a conservatoire teacher and researcher. Among her other roles she is a Visiting Professor at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Finland, as well as being a National Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
John Derrick, Chair of the Board of Governors at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, said, “We are delighted to welcome Professor Gaunt to Cardiff and the appointment reinforces the position of the College as a leading European conservatoire. Her depth of experience across both music and drama combined with her strong international relationships will enhance our national and international aspirations.
Helena’s reputation and leadership will ensure that we continue to nurture and grow the stature of our offering for undergraduate and postgraduate students.”
Professor Gaunt said, “I am delighted to be joining the Royal Welsh College at this exciting time in its development. Already established as a world class institution in Wales with an outstanding performance programme and educational opportunities, the stage is set to deepen and extend the College’s impact both in Wales and internationally.
There is now an opportunity to further enhance the key role the College plays in the growth of the creative industries, helping to power artistic quality and cultural innovation, and widening access to creative education. I look forward to working with the Board of Directors, staff and students, and to being part of the national Conservatoire of Wales.”
Professor Gaunt studied at the University of Cambridge, University of Essex, Guildhall School and Institute of Education, London University, and received an MBA at Ashridge Business School.
She has more recently developed research expertise, publishing on one-to-one tuition in conservatoires, orchestral musicians in the 21st century, creative music performance and collaborative learning. She was an Associate of the Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP), and a member of the research team for Creative Works London, both funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Current interests focus on the position and practices of artists in society, including creative entrepreneurship.
In 2013 she led the launch of Guildhall Creative Entrepreneurs in partnership with Cause4, an incubator dedicated to supporting sustainable business development in the performing arts.
She has served on several working groups for the European Association of Conservatoires (AEC), including chairing the Research Working Group of the Polifonia project, 2007-10. She is a member of the Peer Review College for the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and co-editor of Music Performance Research.
Professor Gaunt has been appointed following a worldwide search process overseen by Saxton Bampfylde. The selection process was led by the College’s Chair, John Derrick.