How did you pursue further research into this history?
The idea for a joint concert occurred to me soon after my discovery last Spring. This year I proposed to the NYU London administration that we invite the Oxford and Cambridge Musical Club back for a centenary celebration. After learning that the club’s archives are held at the University of Oxford in the Bodleian Libraries’ Special Collections, I thought an accompanying exhibition would complete the event. Despite it being my first year as an NYU undergraduate, I presented a successful application to the Library, and so I spent part of Spring Break in the "city of dreaming spires," mulling over thousands of pages of archives!
What took place at this site while it housed the OCMC headquarters?
From 1914 to the onset of World War II, NYU London’s Academic Centre in Bloomsbury was the lively headquarters of the OCMC. As NYU London members do today, stellar classical musicians, composers, and leading public figures signed in at the foyer entrance. The building was home to countless musical events, and featured concert, smoking, and rehearsal rooms, six grand pianos and other instruments, a large music library, several bedrooms, and even offered refreshments throughout the day.
Where are the OCMC headquarters now?
In fact, 1940 marked the end of the OCMC’s residential period. Today, the club continues its programs in Bloomsbury and around London, performing regularly at University College London just a few blocks down from the Academic Centre.
Has your research led to any other acknowledgements of this history?
In my research at the Bodleian I located the first musical program that the Oxford and Cambridge Musical Club presented at 6 Bedford Square, an event that took place on December 3, 1914. As this December will mark exactly 100 years since the first performance in the building, a reenactment of the program has been suggested to honor the centenary.
NYU London’s Academic Centre already has a further heritage stretching back to Lord Eldon’s residence in the building. His residence is commemorated with one of London’s infamous blue plaques. The possibility of applying for a second plaque is in discussion, since the OCMC brings a very rich history.
What will you miss most about London when you leave at the end of the semester?
It’s hard to say for sure what I will miss most about London, but if I had my bet, it would be the city's architecture. One never has to look for beauty here. It’s everywhere to be found, and, since the city is 2000 years old, the age and style of the buildings vary quite a bit. I like to say that walking through London is like walking through time; you turn a corner and find yourself in another era.