Keep Music Playing / 11

Like all the best laid plans at the moment, the RNCM is now in the process of refocussing, adapting and reconsidering what we do and how we do it during lockdown and beyond.

My own work as College Archivist is no different. As much as I miss being with the collections and basking in that second-hand-book-smell, working purely digitally has offered opportunities that time just didn’t afford before.

The thousands of online catalogue entries, which are the main portal into our collections, needed some love and attention. Over the past few weeks, index terms for our performers’ names have been added so that the collections and narratives within them can be connected better and found more easily. Most importantly, when the work is completed, I will finally be the only person to blame for any spelling mistakes.

As we all look for new inspiration during isolation, why not take a look at our portal here for a nostalgic trip through our collections?

You may be aware this year is the Centenary of the Northern School of Music (NSM). The NSM was founded and run by women, specialising in training music teachers, until it merged with the Royal Manchester College of Music to form the RNCM in 1973. We are incredibly proud to have it as one of our founding institutions and to celebrate its incredible legacy. We have been running the project, A 20/20 Legacy: the centenary of the Northern School of Music, collecting oral histories, archive material and inviting alumni to share their stories. We’ve been overwhelmed by the responses and, thanks to support from a fabulous team of volunteers, who are still regularly updating and adding to the collection, you can now view and enjoy an online exhibition hosted by our friends at the Manchester Digital Music Archive here.

Throughout these extraordinary times, archivists are working to ensure that the history we are living today is kept securely and respectfully. How we have responded and adapted to changes due to COVID-19 will be a monumental part of our combined heritage and identity going forward. Please do keep a record of what you’re doing, even if only briefly, and get in touch for any advice. You never know, perhaps in the future your own archive could share the stage with all the other amazing collections here at RNCM Archives.

Heather Roberts,
College Archivist

RNCM Great Big Charity Music Quiz Tuesday 2 June // 6:30pm

Tickets are selling fast for the RNCM Great Big Charity Music Quiz on Tuesday 2 June at 6.30pm. We’ll be casting the net wide, covering a huge range of musical styles, where you may find the answers as interesting as the questions! For the star performers, they’ll be some fabulous prizes donated by our wonderful friends at Beaverbrooks the Jewellers and Brodsky restaurant. There’ll also be the chance to win a very special, bespoke print drawn by alumna and classical superstar, mezzo soprano Kathryn Rudge!

All proceeds from ticket sales will support two great causes and every single pound raised will be matched by one of our generous supporters, so your £20 will now raise £40 for the RNCM Student Hardship Fund and Manchester Foundation Trust Charity.

Tickets are available to buy here, we look forward to quizzing with you!

LamentatioAbel Selaocoe

Here’s a taste of Abel’s mesmerising performance with his own, African inspired, arrangement of Lamentatio by Giovanni Sollima, recorded in one single take on a cold day in Hull!

Since completing the RNCM’s prestigious International Artist Diploma in 2018, South African cellist Abel Selaocoe has been giving virtuosic performances across a huge range of genre defying styles. His work celebrates links between Western and non-Western musical traditions, helping classical music connect with a more diverse audience. We are delighted that he has become one of the RNCM’s most recent and exciting Honorary Associate Artists. You can catch his mesmerising mix of classical and jazz with South African roots, live tonight at 7pm on Facebook and YouTube.

Last year Abel, and his trio Chesaba, joined with fellow alumni in Manchester Collective, including our recent guest editor Simmy Singh, to tour the joyous Sirocco, which saw RNCM audiences on their feet, dancing in the Concert Hall.

Wigmore Hall – Lunchtime Recitals BBC Concerts

We’re absolutely delighted to hear that Radio 3 is to resume concerts from London’s Wigmore Hall, broadcasting live each lunchtime at 1pm from Monday 1 June. Made up exclusively of solo recitals and duos, they will feature some of the world’s leading musicians performing to an empty hall, in compliance with social distancing guidelines. The concerts will be broadcast on Radio 3 and BBC Sounds, and streamed on Wigmore Hall’s website. The Season opens with our very own alumnus, Companion of the RNCM and International Chair in Piano Studies, Stephen Hough. Click here to find out more.

Bessie Smith TributeKlezmer-ish

On his days off playing Principal Clarinet in the Welsh National Opera Orchestra, alumnus Thomas Verity performs with the band Klezmer-ish. Sadly, due to the current situation, their summer tour and CD launch has fallen through, but they’re making the best of the situation by spreading their music digitally and hopefully finding some new musical friends. Here they are performing this wonderful Bessie Smith tribute while in lockdown.

Public Masterclasses: Roderick Williams OBE – 3 June
Chris Illingworth – 4 June

Join now – 3 June // Join now – 4 June

We are absolutely delighted to share news of two forthcoming public masterclasses. Acclaimed baritone Roderick Williams OBE, one of our outstanding International Visiting Tutors, will be delivering a masterclass open to students and friends on 3rd June at 5pm. Here he sings Der Vogelfanger bin Ich ja from The Magic Flute, from last year’s wonderful Royal Opera House production.

The following day, alumnus Chris Illingworth, pianist in experimental jazz trio GoGo Penguin, will join us for a live Q&A at 5pm. Find out more about their work here. You can submit questions in advance, by emailing them to digital@rncm.ac.uk by 2pm on the day of the masterclass. We hope you can join us, for what are sure to be fascinating events.

RNCM Lunchtime Concerts
In partnership with the British Heart Foundation

Watch now

Last week we launched our new Monday lunchtime concerts, streaming live in partnership with the British Heart Foundation. It’s been lovely to be able to share our music even more widely and support a charity doing such vital work during this crisis. We hope you can join us next Monday at 1.15pm to start your week with Susanna Braun performing the third (Largo) and fourth (Finale) movements of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58.

#TogetherAtHome Livestream – Duo Giovivo

For those of you who would like to settle in for a longer concert, we’re delighted to share this charming recital by Duo Giovivo. Featuring alumnus Fabian Bloch playing euphonium and Muriel Zeiter on piano, recorded in their living room to be enjoyed in yours!

Something From the Archive: NSM Centenary Project – Dorothy Arden Interview

It’s an absolute privilege to be able to source such wonderful stories from our archive and share them with you. The NSM Centenary project has unearthed some glorious snippets, including this reminiscence from pianist Dorothy Ardern about the atmosphere of the school in the 1950s.

‘There wasn’t anybody on the fringes, we all stuck together.’

If you’d like to find out more about the origins of the RNCM, including the love story of Ida Carroll and the school’s support of Barnardo’s children then click here, for a brief history brought to you from my conservatory!

A Gift For Future Generations – Legacies and Bequests

An archive is made up of many small yet meaningful legacies with each letter, document, photograph or interview left in our care, leaving a unique gift for future generations to learn from and enjoy. Each year we are honoured to receive gifts from our community, both items for our archive and financial gifts given as bequests to the College, to support our work training the next generation of music students. If you are thinking about how you might like to make a bequest to the RNCM in your will, or in memory of someone who loved music, then please do click here for more information.

Thank You
RNCM Hardship Fund
Donate Here

Thank you, once again, for all the warm messages you have been sending us. It makes such a difference to us to hear about everything you’re doing and to receive your words of encouragement and support for our students.

‘Thank you for including us on the list that shows how life at the College continues. We must say that the College is responding extremely well to these highly unusual circumstances.’ – RNCM Donor

So many have already generously given to our Hardship Fund. For those of you considering making a gift, please take a look here, to see how your donation really can make a huge difference to our students most in need. To everyone in our community who are giving, creating, sharing and helping us all stay supported and connected – thank you.

29 May 2020



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COVID-19 Update: Our venues have reopened to the public and we’re looking forward to welcoming you back this Autumn. Before attending an event at the RNCM, please read our Audience Protocol…