Geoff Baker is a Reader (= Associate Professor) in the music department at Royal Holloway, University of London. He joined the department as a Lecturer in 2005, having previously served there as a Leverhulme Research Fellow. He studied modern languages at Oxford University and early music performance at the Utrecht Conservatorium and the Royal Academy of Music. Having gained experience as a performer of Renaissance and Baroque music, he went on to complete a PhD at Royal Holloway under the supervision of Dr Tess Knighton.
He specialises in music in Latin America, and he has published extensively on colonial Peru. His book Imposing Harmony: Music and Society in Colonial Cuzco (Duke University Press, 2008) won the American Musicological Society’s Robert Stevenson Award in 2010. He co-edited Music and Urban Society in Colonial Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2010) with Tess Knighton, and he has contributed essays to several journals and collected volumes.
Geoff also works on Latin American popular music, and he has a particular interest in contemporary urban music, above all in Cuba. He has published several essays on rap and reggaetón in Havana, and his book Buena Vista in the Club: Rap, Reggaetón, and Revolution in Havana (Duke University Press, 2011) was published in the series Refiguring American Music.
Recently, he has been focusing on childhood musical learning and music education in Cuba and Venezuela. He was co-investigator on the three-year project “Growing into music,” funded through the AHRC’s Beyond Text scheme, and made a series of documentaries and short films about young musicians in Cuba and Venezuela (available for free streaming in HD at www.growingintomusic.co.uk). This project culminated in festivals in Bamako and Havana in early 2012. He also held a British Academy Research Development Award in 2010-11 and undertook a year of fieldwork in Venezuela on the country’s famous orchestral training program, El Sistema. His book on the topic, El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth, is published by OUP.
Geoff spent a number of months in 2011-12 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working on a project entitled “Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies.” This research programme, based at the Faculty of Music at Oxford University, funded by the European Research Council, and led by Professor Georgina Born, is examining the changes to music and musical practices afforded by digitization and digital media. He is focusing on digital cumbia and folklore in Buenos Aires. Having spent the year 2012-13 based at Oxford University, he is now back at Royal Holloway, teaching and writing up his research on Venezuela and Argentina.