Keep Music Playing / 15

When we sadly closed our doors three months ago, we promised to stay open in other ways.

Over these past weeks we have been inspired by our wonderful community of students, staff, alumni and all the gifted artists, who have shared their music online, to enrich our lives and help bring us together during these isolated times.

As the academic year ends, at a time when we would usually be coming together to celebrate at our annual concert at The Bridgewater Hall, I would like to share some of the wonderful achievements from the last few weeks.

Just before lockdown, we were able to move a stock of upright pianos out to students so that practice schedules could continue. We swiftly invested in high quality digital technology – best suited to music as well as speech – enabling us to offer tuition and support to all our students via virtual, online platforms. It’s taken a while to get used to this new way of working, but we have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic, open-hearted uptake from our students and staff.

Our programmers and conductors are devising new concert seasons, popular music students are exploring new recording technology and composers are writing new works specifically for Zoom. Our professional partners are joining us to deliver remote classes and audition advice sessions and Principal players from our brilliant regional orchestras are providing orchestral excerpt ‘critiques’ for our students.

We know how important our lunchtime concerts are to our community of music lovers, and we are so pleased that we’ve been able to continue them each Monday and Thursday, now on Facebook Live. Next Monday’s concert, streamed in partnership with British Heart Foundation, will feature some of our wonderful percussion students, performing a variety of works that were composed, transcribed or arranged for marimba. It will be our last lunchtime concert until the new academic year, so do catch it if you can.

We’ve also been able to deliver our series of Masterclasses, bringing international artists such as Nicola Benedetti, Marin Alsop and Roderick Williams OBE, to our students and audiences, online, open to all and always free of charge.

A few months ago, we could not have predicted the effects this pandemic would have on every aspect of our lives. We are hugely grateful for, and humbled by, the support we’ve received, especially the donations to our Hardship Fund – which has been a vital lifeline to many of our students during these challenging times. Thank you for being there for us. Thank you for not forgetting us.

We look forward to welcoming you back as soon as it is safe for us to do so. In the meantime, we will Keep Music Playing.

– Professor Linda Merrick, RNCM Principal

Bridgewater Hall Concert
James Chan – To Partake of Eternity

Usually at this time of year the College is full of excitement as we prepare for our annual Bridgewater Hall concert. This year we were especially proud to be performing a new piece by one of our composition students, James Chan.

James took his creative impetus from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and its theme of human transience, and the many ways in which we try to defy it. The sea serves as a symbol for the passage of time in the novel and the sense of ebbing waves find their way into the music. Although we sadly can’t perform it for you, we are delighted to be able to share the piece and score here for you to enjoy at home.

End of Year Performance

Although we can’t perform live for you right now, our students have been working together remotely on a very special performance that we’ll be sharing soon on social media. Keep looking on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for something very special, coming soon!

Sirocco ft. Abel Selaocoe
27 June // 8pm

Regular readers will have enjoyed a taste of Abel Selaocoe’s sensational Sirocco performance a few weeks ago. We’re absolutely delighted to announce that our friends at Manchester Collective are now broadcasting the whole concert.

Filmed at the RNCM last autumn, the concert was a triumphant homecoming for our alumni and an inspiration to our current students and audiences. Premiering tomorrow at 8pm, click here for a preview and more details.

New App

Agbeko are an exciting, 11-strong band, featuring alumni and friends. Inspired by the music of 1970s West Africa, they’ve built a contemporary sound, bringing together horns, guitars, percussion and vocals, packed with riffs and groove.

Their music has a message and a heart, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been thinking of ways to support children isolated during lockdown. They’ve developed AgbekoCreate, a new app which allows children to create their own amazing rhythms and melodies with members of the group. They’ll be able to record their own musical ideas, send them to the band and at the end of August, Agbeko will release a series of digital tracks made from children’s contributions.

The app is free to download from the App and PlayStore from 6 July and we can’t wait to see all the performances from the next generation of our amazing musical community.

Here are the band in action, performing a wonderful, impromptu performance of There Is a Jungle by band leader and alumnus, Jamie Stockbridge, at Soundwave Croatia.

They’re Back!
The Scott Brothers Duo

We know how much our readers enjoyed the last film from RNCM tutors (and alumni) the wonderful Scott Brothers. This joyous online home concert celebrated Midsummer, Father’s Day and Tom’s Birthday!

Featuring pieces by Gioachino Rossini, Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-Saëns, Alexandre Guilmant, Johann Strauss II and Tom, with duets for piano, duos for piano and harmonium as well as some very special animation.

Love Will Tear Us Apart
Hot 8 Brass Band

We know that across the world, we stand as one in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. While distance may set us apart, we know that our music will bring us together.

So, we absolutely love this uplifting cover version of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, transported from 1970s Manchester to present day New Orleans by the Hot 8 Brass Band. The track has been produced in aid of the Jazz Foundation of America Emergency Fund, supporting musicians unable to work during the crisis.

Thank You
Future Emails // Short Film

It’s been a huge pleasure to be able to share so many of the exciting projects our students, alumni and partners have been working on through lockdown. From the very first week we began, we promised not to forget you and to keep music playing. As the academic year draws to an end, our students will be taking a much-deserved break, while we know that as the world slowly reopens, many of our readers will find themselves busier again, so we will be sending out a fortnightly edition of Keep Music Playing over the coming months to accommodate for these changes. We’ll be back on Friday 10 July with more musical treats for the summer.

In the meantime, to all of our friends and donors who’ve supported us through these times, we’d love to share this short film, outlining all the wonderful work that’s been made possible thanks to your help this year. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you.

26 June 2020