Meet the new Head of the School of Music14 August 2023
Dr Nicholas Jones (BMus 1994, MMus 1995, PhD 1999), began his role as the Head of the School of Music in August 2023, succeeding Professor Ken Hamilton. A triple Cardiff alum, Nick has studied and worked at the University for over 30 years. Ahead of the start of the new academic year, Nick shares his hopes and priorities for the future for the School of Music.
As a Cardiff alum, could you tell us some of your favourite things about the University and Cardiff itself?
My association with Cardiff, the University and the School of Music goes back over 30 years. When I attended my undergraduate audition in the early 1990s, I was immediately struck by the warm and welcoming atmosphere, and this hasn’t changed at all in the intervening years. Indeed, the School continues to offer stimulating artistic and academic study in a friendly, inclusive and creative environment. Students feel part of a close-knit musical community and can engage with a wide range of activities, including participation in numerous School and student-led ensembles and events, an annual programme of concerts, and opportunities to undertake work placements and study abroad.
I have always felt proud to be part of the wider University and feel very passionate about living and working in Wales’ capital city. Cardiff is a culturally very lively city, with plenty of green spaces in which to relax and enjoy. It is also ideally located for studying music. The city has several world-class venues, such as the Wales Millennium Centre and St David’s Hall, and many smaller venues where students and staff can enjoy listening to a rich diversity of music, from jazz and folk to rock and pop, and to performances from musicians from around the world showcasing music from their own culture.
Can you tell us a little about your career history?
My career is intimately related to Cardiff University. I started as an undergraduate here in 1991 and was awarded a BMus three years later. I followed this up with a masters in composition (MMus, 1995), and then immediately embarked on doctoral research relating to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s Third Symphony (PhD, 1999). This started a lifelong passion for and association with this composer, and I have subsequently written and co-edited three books on his life and music.
My research interests also lie in British art music more widely, especially Welsh music since 1945. I started teaching at the School of Music in 1996, and although I have also worked for the University’s Division of Continuing and Professional Education and the Open University, I have greatly enjoyed teaching and leading numerous undergraduate and postgraduate modules at the School for over 25 years now. Given this long association, I am therefore deeply honoured to be appointed as Head of School and consider it a privilege to lead a vibrant and ambitious School with such a rich history.
What are your hopes and priorities for the future for the School of Music?
I see the future success for the School of Music to be focused on several broad areas. Student and staff wellbeing and a healthy work-life balance will be regarded as priorities. I wish to develop our international activities, including student and staff mobilities; continue to promote excellence in all areas of teaching and learning; cultivate a flourishing research and scholarship community; and ensure that the School maintains and builds on its reputation as a stimulating and supportive environment in which to study.
How do you see working with the alumni community in future?
I have served as Alumni Officer within the School of Music for the past eight years and have always enjoyed keeping in touch with previous students to see how their careers have developed. We are contacted regularly by alumni wishing to visit the School and have a tour, and recently I welcomed a group of students who were here as undergraduates when the Music Building was first opened in 1971! Naturally, this interest will continue in my new role, but it will no doubt take on even greater importance. Certainly, I am committed to working closely with our alumni community and promoting the development of home and international links.
What are you most looking forward to about your new role?
Overseeing and managing the diverse activities of the School. The variety will make for a very interesting job and will keep me on my toes! I have always considered it a privilege to work with such talented students and dedicated staff, and I look forward to strengthening this association. However, a thriving and dynamic academic school cannot survive and flourish in splendid isolation. Collaboration with colleagues within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the University and further afield, including the local community and our strategic partners, will therefore be crucial for the School’s future success. It’s an enormous responsibility, but I am hugely looking forward to the challenge!