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13th May, 2014

Professor Barry Ife

Credit Matt Holiday

Professor Barry Ife became Principal of the Guildhall School in September 2004. Since then he has made a number of important changes, including repositioning the School within the higher education sector, reviving and strengthening strategic partnerships with a range of performing arts organisations such as Barbican Centre, LSO and Royal Opera House. He has made the Guildhall School the UK’s single largest provider of music education to under 18s by incorporating the Centre for Young Musicians (CYM) and creating new music ‘hubs’ in Norfolk and Somerset; he has achieved recognition for Guildhall’s music outreach and opera programmes through two Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (2005 and 2007); and he has realised the School’s long-held ambition to build additional facilities at Milton Court (opened September 2013), including state-of-the-art performance venues, rehearsal and teaching spaces.

As a professional academic, Barry specialises in the cultural history of Spain and Spanish America from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. After holding lectureships at Nottingham University and Birkbeck College, he was appointed to the Cervantes Chair of Spanish at King’s College London in 1988. During his tenure of the chair, whose emeritus title he still holds, he became Head of the School of Humanities (1989-1996), Vice-Principal (1996-2003) and Acting Principal (2003-2004). It was during this period that he gained wide experience in higher education management. He initiated and oversaw major capital projects such as the conversion of the former Public Records Office into the Maughan Library and information services centre, and the redevelopment of the Strand campus. As a governor of the Royal Academy of Music (1996-2004) and manager of the validation relationship between King’s and RADA, he gained considerable insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the performing arts sector.

Professor Ife was appointed CBE in the 2000 birthday honours for services to Hispanic studies. He is chairman of The Culture Capital Exchange and the Mendelssohn Boise Foundation, and from April 2014 will be President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM).


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