Discord at music college 'pop' principal

October 26, 2007

The Royal Northern College of Music has been forced to defend the appointment of its new principal - after a whispering campaign questioned whether his "pop and jazz" background is suitable for such an august institution.

Jonty Stockdale, currently head of music and associate dean for learning and teaching at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, is due to replace Edward Gregson who retires in July next year.

But disgruntled staff at the college have anonymously contacted the media to express their concern at his appointment.

A press release claiming to be from a group of staff comments that the founding principal, Sir John Manduell, and Professor Gregson "have been highly distinguished and have upheld the highest standards of conservatoire training in performance and composition".

"They have both provided superb artistic leadership in addition to their responsibilities and achievements as business managers."

In contrast, it is claimed, Professor Stockdale "simply does not have the right profile for the RNCM".

The press release goes on to say: "It seems that Stockdale's career, in Salford, Leeds and Melbourne, has been focused almost entirely in the areas of pop and jazz studies. This is not what the RNCM is about.

"In Melbourne it seems that he is head of music at the performing arts college, as opposed to one of the conservatoire institutions. This appointment is so manifestly unsuitable for the RNCM that it should be annulled," the statement says.

But Michael Oglesby, chairman RNCM's board of governors, hit back at the accusations.

"The board of governors is delighted with the outcome of the search for a new principal for the RNCM and has every confidence that it has made a strong appointment in Jonty Stockdale.

"The process which was undertaken was both rigorous and thorough, involving major international search consultants, an eminent panel and detailed consultation with staff and interested parties.

"We are clearly disappointed that anonymous members of staff have reacted in this manner."

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