When Sir Frank Callaway donated his professional library and personal papers to the University upon his retirement in 1984, Professor David Tunley, then Head of the School of Music, proposed that a research centre be established based around “material related to music education from around the world, starting with Sir Frank’s extensive collection”.
In 1988 the Callaway International Resource Centre for Music Education (CIRCME – pronounced ‘search me’) began its operations with support from the Frank Callaway Foundation of Music.
The Centre’s four-fold aims were:
The first decade for CIRCME was characterised by the vitality and creativity of its Executive Committee and a band of volunteers. The Centre attracted interest and support from around the world through its network of International Corresponding Members in 42 countries, and in 1996, Lord (Yehudi) Menuhin became its Patron-in-Chief for a short time.
During this time the Centre amassed published materials relating to music education and related fields such as musicology, music psychology, ethnomusicology and contemporary music. These resources were drawn from private collectors, or acquired through funding supplied by generous benefactors.
Archival papers from significant international figures such as Eileen Joyce, Irene Kohler and John Blacking were also acquired. The Centre established an international network of music educators and key institutions, and published more than 50 titles, either under its own imprint or that of its specially created music publishing house, Matilda Music Press.
Many of these titles were published in association with peak bodies such as the International Society for Music Education and the Australian Society for Music Education.
In his foreword to the Centre's 10th anniversary newsletter in 1999, Chairperson Dr Sam Leong commented:
"While CIRCME has in the past decade focused on increasing its resource holdings, expanding its international network and publishing quality materials at non-commercial prices, research and community outreach will be its priorities in the next phase of development."
In the second decade of the Centre, the development of online union catalogues allowed the Centre to turn its focus away from the creation and collection of resources and toward research and archival activity.
In the early 2000s, the publications arm of the Centre was divested in order to focus activity on research. Sir Frank’s earlier success in convincing the University to purchase the historically significant Australian Performing Arts Archive accelerated the long-held notion of the Centre as the custodian of important archival collections.
Requiring significant funding to establish physical, technical and intellectual infrastructure, the idea of patronage was extended into Commonwealth Government funding. The Centre successfully applied to the Australian Research Council (ARC) for two grants for projects that would prove critical for the development of the technical infrastructure necessary for professional archival work.
In 2003 the University converted a room at the Park Avenue Building into a purpose-built archival facility that included a climate-controlled vault, a researchers' room and a workroom for staff. At last the Centre had a home for its valuable archival collections – Sir Frank's own papers, the Eileen Joyce, Irene Kohler and John Blacking Collections. In 2007 the Centre’s online catalogue made the archival collections available to scholars.
Research work based around ARC Discovery Projects and other externally supported projects was intensified from 2006, with the appointment of the Inaugural Callaway/Tunley Chair, Winthrop Professor Jane Davidson. She directed the Centre during her time as Chair (2006-2013) and many high-quality international research outputs were achieved.
This period also included the hosting of a large international conference entitled ‘The Power of Music’, which was co-badged between the Second International Conference on Music and Emotion and the Annual Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia.
The Callaway Centre itself established a high-profile advisory board, the membership including key international figures from the fields of music education, music psychology, ethnomusicology, musicology, archival research and digital humanities work.