Professor Sir Barry Ife (at opening of Milton Court)
Photograph: Clive Totman Professor Barry Ife has been awarded a Knighthood in the 2017 New Year honours list for services to performing arts education. Professor Ife has worked in higher education for 47 years and earlier this year announced he would be standing down as Principal of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, a position he has held since September 2004.

Professor Sir Barry Ife said: “I am surprised and delighted by this award. It’s a welcome recognition of the contribution the performing arts make to British society and culture, and the strength of our conservatoires, dance and drama schools. Above all it’s a resounding endorsement of the Guildhall School’s world-leading training and the global impact of our outstanding young musicians, actors and theatre technicians. Guildhall staff and students should take most of the credit.”

Professor Ife is the first Principal of the Guildhall School to be knighted in office. Over his twelve years at the helm of the School, he has repositioned the institution within the higher education sector and made a number of important changes, including:

  • Gaining Taught Degree-Awarding Powers for the School, granted by the Privy Council in April 2014
  • Securing recognition of its teaching as ‘world-leading’ by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in May 2016
  • Reviving and strengthening strategic partnerships with a range of performing arts organisations including the Barbican Centre, LSO and The Royal Opera
  • Leading the Guildhall School to become the UK’s single largest provider of specialist music education to under 18s by incorporating the Centre for Young Musicians (CYM) and creating new CYM music centres in Norfolk, Somerset, Peterborough, Bristol and Saffron Walden
  • Winning two Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Guildhall’s music outreach and opera programmes
  • Realising 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, Professor Sir Barry Ife 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 has represented specialist institutions on the Board of Universities UK and has chaired the UUK Specialist Institutions Forum. He was President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) in 2014-15, and is currently chairman of The Culture Capital Exchange.

The Guildhall School is a vibrant, international community of young musicians, actors and theatre technicians in the heart of the City of London. Twice-rated No.1 specialist institution in the UK by the Guardian University Guide, and recently selected as one of the top ten institutions for performing arts in the world (QS World University Rankings 2016), the School is a global leader of creative and professional practice which promotes innovation, experiment and research, with over 900 students in higher education, drawn from nearly 60 countries around the world. It is also the UK’s largest provider of specialist music training at the under-18 level with nearly 2,500 students in Junior Guildhall and Centre for Young Musicians. The School is widely recognised for the quality of its teaching and its graduates, and its new building, Milton Court which opened in September 2013, offers state-of-the-art facilities to match the talent within its walls, ensuring that students enter their chosen profession at the highest level. Milton Court is part of the unique Guildhall School/Barbican partnership delivering world-class arts and learning.

The Guildhall School of Music & Drama is provided by the City of London Corporation.


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