Keep Music Playing 20 – Engage!

At the RNCM we believe there should be no barriers to music and that access to a high-quality music education should be available to everyone.

To achieve this, the RNCM Learning and Participation Team, through our Engage Programme, create pathways for young people from all backgrounds to develop their skills, while also offering opportunities for our students to train as music practitioners and mentors. At a time when state provision of music education in our schools is under threat, it is becoming even more vital to inspire and support young musical talent, irrespective of their financial means, to safeguard the next generation of artists and the future direction of music.

Following lockdown and the closure of the College building, we had to swiftly adapt to ensure our young participants were still engaged, inspired and supported. We’ve been delighted to be able to keep many of our programmes running online, including the award-winning, open access, RNCM Young Company musical theatre group. Each year we also deliver Take to the Stage, a major conference providing insight into careers in the performing arts. This year we delivered the conference online, and thanks to technology, were able to provide a wealth of advice from industry experts to young people from both Greater Manchester and right across the UK.

As we plan for the autumn term, we remain committed to opening up opportunities for all sections of the community. We will offer online school visit days, 1-2-1 mentoring for young people living in areas of social deprivation, deliver an online conference around careers in music and broadcast a range of interactive virtual masterclasses, to highlight opportunities in the creative sector.

We are looking forward to welcoming young people and their families back into our building as soon as it’s safe to do so. Until then, we are committed to providing outstanding opportunities for all our talented young performers.

– Fiona Stuart, Head of Learning & Participation

Music in the Community

The RNCM is committed to training talented performers with a social awareness and commitment to make a positive impact through their music. We actively promote student enterprise, making connections through our extensive professional partnership networks and providing specialist support to take ideas from concept to realisation. We are particularly proud of two recent graduates, now on our Learning and Participation Junior Fellowship scheme, who have established their own Community Interest Companies, both transforming the lives of others in society.

SoundUp Arts, set up by Lucy Temby, specialises in programmes that engage with people living with dementia. It delivered socially distanced concerts throughout lockdown and developed specialist online music resources, to enable carers and care-homes to facilitate high-quality interactive music sessions with confidence.

Bowtell Music, established by Lucy-Rose Graham, creates beautiful Musical Care Boxes, featuring recordings of concerts specially created by a wide variety of musicians. These lovely treats have become a simple, yet hugely touching gesture for those most isolated in our community.

‘When you can’t see your family and friends to have a coffee with, it’s so nice to have concert performers to watch and bring some music to my house. It’s nice not to be forgotten.’ – Richard, music care box recipient.

 Ollie West and the Wildflowers

Ollie West and the Wildflowers are a glorious 13-piece multi instrumental ensemble led by recent  alumnus and RNCM Popular Music Ambassador, Ollie West.  Their music combines lush orchestration with influences as diverse as 1970s singer songwriters, jazz, folk and impressionist composers such as Debussy and Ravel.

As with so many of our alumni, they’ve been busy through the pandemic using their musical talent to help others. In July they launched a 12-hour long Facebook live concert with friends, many of whom are also RNCM musicians, to raise funds for the Runnymede Trust, a charity tackling structural racism in the UK.

The band will be releasing a new album soon, but until then you can enjoy this lovely track, Home, with stunning animated video, released on the RNCM record label Northern Quarter Records.

Songs for Sir John

We’re delighted to share with you news of a new album in tribute to Sir John Manduell, one of Britain’s most influential figures in recent musical history and, of course, the Founding Principal of the RNCM.

Curated by Sir John’s colleague and close friend John Turner, himself a leading recorder player and holder of an Honorary Fellowship of the RNCM for his services to British music. The album features tributes by composers, who all, in some way, found their careers guided and encouraged by the enthusiasm and ever-generous support of Sir John. Many pieces were originally composed for concerts celebrating Sir John’s life and are focused around the evocative poetry of William Butler Yeats.

The album will be released on 11 September, for more information and preview of some of the pieces, click here.

Wherever you go

We always like to share music that’s simply out of this world and we couldn’t think of a more fitting piece than this fabulous collaboration between Australian electro band The Avalanches and The International Space Orchestra (ISO) the world’s first (and only!) orchestra of space scientists. Bringing together science, technology and music, Wherever You Go features Jamie xx, Neneh Cherry and CLYPSO alongside spacecraft operators in a wonderfully uplifting cosmic pop collaboration.

‘During a hard lockdown, it has renewed our faith in music, humanity and the power of connection, science and love.’ The Avalanches.

A moment with Marin

French conductor, Chloé van Soeterstède trained at the RNCM with Clark Rundell and Mark Heron. She was awarded the Kennedy scholarship and was supported by the Derek Hill Foundation.

Chloé is currently the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellow, a two-year award programme created by conductor Marin Alsop and philanthropist Tomio Taki, that mentors, supports and promotes women conductors.  Of the 537 music directors with US orchestras, just 60 are women.

‘I have never ascribed to the philosophy that, ‘It was tough for me so it will be tough for you.’ My philosophy is: ‘It was tough for me so that I could make it easier for you.’ – Marin Alsop

Chloé has recorded a series of fascinating short interviews with Marin. Here she reminisces about working with the inspirational Leonard Bernstein.

Find out more about Chloé here.

Find out more about the Fellowship here.

Thank you

We are excited to be so close to reopening our doors to students again. The process of reopening is complex and costly and we are so grateful to all the kind supporters who have been donating to our reopening fund. Every donation is ring-fenced for the vital measures needed to reopen safely and the digital technology which will enable us to keep our Engage and concert programme online for free, for everyone. To find out more about how your donation will make a difference to the College and all those we reach please click here. Thank you.

4 September 2020