Keep Music Playing / 7

A life in the arts will always have an element of uncertainty about it. We are descendants of the village storytellers, the jugglers, the singers, the entertainers, those who bring extra joy at times of celebration, and extra comfort at times of distress.

We are employed as long as we are wanted. Our professional lives are a perpetual audition, continuing when we leave college right up to retirement.

Nevertheless, none of us planned the kind of uncertainty which has been facing us with the coronavirus pandemic. The ‘village’ has been devastated. But that means that artists are needed more than ever. Our doctors and nurses (and so many others) are heroes of the hour and they cannot be praised or supported enough; but after we’re through this particular dark tunnel and bodies are healing, people will look to artists to heal souls.

There may be uncertainty in a musician’s life but nothing is more certain than the vital importance of the transcendental music we play – sounds which speak to hearts beyond the need for words. The village is ready and waiting. That challenge, that responsibility, can be our greatest incentive.

– Stephen Hough

A heartfelt thank you to Stephen Hough for crafting these beautiful words. Originally written as a message of support to our students, we wanted to share it across our community of supporters, partners and alumni, spreading the message of healing through art and music.

We know so many of you are creating, sharing and offering support to each other in so many ways. We salute you all.

We hope you enjoy this week’s selection of music, and we hope it brings joy and makes a small difference in these times of uncertainty.

Thomas Guthrie – Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Alumnus Thomas Guthrie is an award-winning theatre director and musician. Thomas brought 120 musicians together while in isolation, to create this heart-warming version of Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

See how many RNCM alumni you can spot performing, alongside some of Thomas’ neighbours and his friend’s children! Please do take a look and, if you’re able, consider making a donation to help them fundraise for Help Musicians – a wonderful charity helping so many members of our community right now.

If you’d like to be a part of Thomas’ next project, a cover version of We’ll Meet Again, then click here for details of how you too can join in.

Timgad – Alice Allen and Brodick Quartet

Alice Allen studied at the RNCM under Hannah Roberts, graduating in 2013 and has since worked with the Scottish Ensemble and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Here she shares a joyous tune, Timgad, by Phil Alexander, which Alice recorded in lockdown with her ensemble, Brodick Quartet.

It was so lovely to see the others smiling away on the laptop while I played my part! Then we just stitched it all together… I suppose playing with the quartet on a prerecord is the closest we can get to chamber music in COVID 19.

– Alice Allen

Lockdown Lunchtime Recitals – Scott Brothers Duo

Many readers will be familiar with the wonderfully talented Scott brothers, Jonathan and Tom, both alumni and current members of staff, supporting the next generation of talent in our keyboard and composition schools.

Jonathan is also Associate Artist of The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, where he performs his popular lunchtime organ recitals. Sadly, of course, the latest series has been cancelled, but this didn’t stop Jonathan pulling a few strings to film one last concert before The Bridgewater Hall closed its doors. Here’s some of the most uplifting music in the organ repertoire. We hope it makes you smile.

Inspiration in insolation – Dr Jennie Henley

Continuing our series of music bringing joy and meaning during this time of isolation, this week we asked Dr Jennie Henley, our Director of Programmes, to share a record with a very special personal resonance.

‘My inspirational album is Club Classics Vol. One – Soul II Soul. This album reminds me of a time when I was hitting the glass ceiling that then prevented anyone without the necessary social and economic capital from pursuing study in Classical music.

‘With no means of breaking the barriers to conservatoire study that existed at that time, I was looking for other ways to develop and express my musicianship. The flautist on Club Classics was mesmerising. It introduced me to a completely different realm of flute playing and took me on a rich and dynamic musical pathway that I was eventually able to reconcile with my formal musical studies.

‘When I look back at where I was when I bought this album, and where I am now, I am reminded that with hard work, perseverance and support from people who believe in you, you can always break through the barriers and get to where you want to be.’

Thank you – £10,000 raised

We continue to be uplifted by your generous donations in support of our students, which has now reached over £10,000. All donations contribute directly to our Hardship Fund, which is distributing more emergency grants than ever to help students through this crisis. For further details about how to give and how it will help, please visit here. Thank you.

Don’t forget

For your RNCM fix through the week, our students are performing every Monday and Thursday at 1.15pm on our Facebook page. Hit like on the page to get a notification when we go live.

RNCM Radio full of news, interviews and music, broadcasts every Tuesday lunchtime at 1pm. Listen live on our website or Facebook page.

1 May 2020