29 Apr 2013
Categories: RNCM Events Blog
World-leading concert pianist and RNCM International Chair of Keyboard Studies, Stephen Hough, talks about his memories of studying at the RNCM and how it helped prepare him for his career in the music world, ahead of his 'In Conversation With' slot here at the RNCM this Saturday 4th May...
Why did you choose to study at the RNCM?
Mainly because my teacher, Gordon Green, taught there. Also I was only 15 when I began the degree course and I (or my parents) probably didn't feel I was ready to live alone in another big city. I had been studying at Chetham's School and the RNCM was only a few more stops on the bus.
What are your happiest memories of your time at the College?
I think of many happy lessons, learning so much from my teachers. Apart from Gordon Green and Derrick Wyndham for piano lessons there were many other wonderful academic staff. I was young (and shy) so I didn't attend many parties or have a crazy social life, but it was a perfect place to study --- and the facilities were, and still are, superb.
How do you feel your time at the RNCM helped prepare you for your career?
Gordon Green was very insistent on thinking long-term: "It's not how you're playing now that interests me but how you will play in 10 years time". So the fact that there was not unhealthy pressure to show 'results' was a big advantage for me. It may all be different now in tertiary education, but I don't think we should ever underestimate the seemingly inactive time when a plant appears to be doing nothing. Flourishing needs space, muscles need to be loose to perform well. Those who will end up thinking big thoughts will need to daydream sometimes.
How important do you think places like the RNCM are for aspiring artists?
I think most people do best when studying alongside others. Despite what I wrote in the previous question we do need to learn personal discipline as well as how to play our instruments. And friendships formed in college years are precious personally and often professionally.
What advice would you give to young people thinking of studying at the RNCM?
Go for it!
Stephen Hough returns to his alma mater to talk about his long and successful career, in conversation with Les Pratt from BBC Radio 3 this Saturday. Find out more here.
19 Apr 2013
Categories: RNCM Events Blog
In the mid 1990s, Supertramp sax legend John Helliwell made the decision to take a sabbatical from the group to return to study for a music degree here at the RNCM. We’re delighted that John is returning to the College for an evening dedicated to Supertramp’s glittering output, featuring a set of special arrangements of Supertramp’s biggest and best songs.
Take Five: Europe is an exclusive professional development programme put together for innovative musicians embarking on international careers. This mjf date showcases the ensemble’s brilliant, contemporary sonic palette.
A rare UK appearance from one of the most distinctive saxophone sounds in jazz, who made his name with John Coltrane’s expressionistic ensembles of the mid-60s.
A new UK-France collaboration uniting four musicians at the forefront of contemporary improvisation, composition and performance: Christophe de Bezenac and Chris Sharkey and Donkey Monkey’s Yuko Oshima and Eve Risser.
16 Apr 2013
Categories: RNCM Events Blog
Graham Gouldman and 10cc bandmates Rick Fenn, Mick Wilson and Mike Stevens join us this Thursday at RNCM for a show with a difference - a 90-minute acoustic set that spans over 4 decades of hits as you’ve never heard them before.
We caught up with Graham to find out more about the show…
- So how did the Heart Full of Songs tour come about?
For the past two to three years the line-up for this new tour has been the opening act for our 10cc gigs, with four of us performing acoustic versions of classic 10cc songs - as well as some newer material, particularly from my recent Love and Work album.
The act became so popular that a promoter suggested we tour it – and it’s working really well so far. We're travelling differently, with a smaller setup and it’s good fun.
I’m excited about reaching a new generation with the music. We’re expecting a mixed crowd – including some long time fans but also a lot of young people who didn’t hear the songs the first time around, so that’s really gratifying.
- What material can we expect to hear on the night?
We’ll be performing some of the songs I wrote with Andrew Gold, some material from the 60s – a little of everything really, covering four and a half decades of work. 10cc classics like I'm Not In Love and Dreadlock Holiday will feature, some hits I wrote for The Hollies, The Yardbirds and Herman’s Hermits, songs from my recent solo album – and definitely a few surprises …
- How did you find the process of reworking the songs for an acoustic setting?
The really interesting thing has been adapting some of the songs to an acoustic situation after being used to hearing them with a full band. Once they’re transformed, you find that some things work and some things don't.
One particular song we worked on didn’t quite translate, so we changed the rhythm and it took on a different form – almost in the way that Layla became like a different song when Eric Clapton played it acoustically.
- It must be good to be back in Manchester. How does the local music scene today compare with when 10cc started out?
It’s always good to come back. It has changed a lot but I think Manchester is still producing great music; it’s something that’s inherent in the city that still applies today. There are always plenty of clubs and places for bands to play and being a University city as well, there are a lot of opportunities for new acts to get noticed. I still consider myself really lucky to have been born at the time that I was, though, and to have the chance to see the bands we could back then.
- You’ve worked with a diverse mix of artists - including McFly more recently – what do you look for in a collaboration?
I’ll collaborate with anybody if they’re good! Working with McFly was a case where I was old enough to be their Dad – but once you sit down with your guitars, age doesn't come into it. It’s more about your influences and the music you want to make.
- What advice would you give to young musicians trying to make it in the industry?
The number one piece of advice is simple, be original. It’s important to stand out. Talent shows are an easy route into the business these days but they’re not always the best idea. The experience you gain on the road really makes for the best foundation.
For me it’s all about the joy of performing with each other - if you can make a success of it, then great, if you can't, that's still great because it's worth it for the love of what you're doing.
Graham joins us at the RNCM on Thursday 18 April 2013 at 7pm - find out more and book here.