Keep Music Playing / 8

One of the greatest pleasures of working at the RNCM is to watch our students grow and develop together; to see them create and perform and to watch how it inspires and motivates them to be the best they can be.

As part of our ethos, we actively encourage students to embrace different genres of music, to compose and arrange, and to work across all departments to share knowledge, technique and influences.

We are fortunate that our students need little encouragement. Together they excite, challenge, innovate and collectively create beautiful, often inspirational musical experiences. As Head of Chamber Music, I am delighted to be able to guest edit this week’s collection of music, which brings together a selection of groups and demonstrates our vibrant chamber music and small ensemble work.

Much of the skill of ensemble playing is based on the ability to listen critically, understand fellow musicians and react instinctively and sensitively. As we face new challenges working and communicating across such great physical boundaries these skills are as valuable now as ever.

In this spirit of collective support, I’d like to thank my colleagues in the Chamber Music department and across the College for sharing both their own and their students’ music, enabling us to showcase the breadth of ensemble playing still thriving, innovating and inspiring us every day.

We hope you enjoy reading about, and watching the musicians featured, as much as we have enjoyed sourcing it for you.

– Jeremy Young
Head of Chamber Music

Live Recording – Li Wei Qin

RNCM alumnus and international cellist Li Wei Qin was due to be joining us for a first visit this term as new Visiting Professor in Chamber Music. We look forward to being able to welcome him in person soon. Until then, it’s a pleasure to share a live recording of the final Fugue from Beethoven’s Sonata Op 102 No 2 that we performed together in Singapore in 2013.

RNCM Alumni CD Release – Benyounes Quartet

The Benyounes Quartet appeared at the recent RNCM Chamber Festival, one of our very last concerts before we had to close. Graduates of the College, their recent CD has received some fantastic reviews.

From the rapturous way Zara Benyounes’s violin crests the first climax of the Bartók to the almost improvisatory ebb and flow of the first movement of the Beethoven, these are readings which – however fresh – are born of deep familiarity with the score and a corresponding trust between the four players.’ Gramophone

Short Film – A4 Brass Quartet

Formed at the RNCM, and now part of our group of exceptional Honorary Associate Artists, A4 Brass comprises principal players from some of the UK’s top brass bands, who come together to perform their own distinctive take on chamber music. We are delighted to share this beautiful short film of the Quartet playing one of the most popular pieces in their repertoire, Tsunangari, by Japanese composer Kentaro Sato. ‘Tsunangari’ means connection, which feels like a particularly fitting and meaningful choice for the times we are living in now.

Performance at the Wigmore Hall – Elias Quartet

Our Deputy Head of Chamber Music (Strings) Donald Grant, is a founding member of the Elias Quartet, one of the world’s leading string quartets. As well as coaching string chamber music right across the College, Donald runs the RNCM’s String Quartet Studio which has recently helped develop exceptional emerging groups such as the Karski Quartet. We are proud to have a formal partnership with the Elias, and in this video you can hear them perform Schubert’s Rosamunde at the Wigmore Hall.

RNCM Saxophone Day – Apollo Saxophone Quartet

Our Deputy Head of Chamber Music (Winds) Rob Buckland, enjoys a professional chamber music career with the Apollo Saxophone Quartet. In its 35-year history, the ensemble has commissioned, premiered and recorded new works from some of the world’s leading composers.

One of the works they are most proud to be associated with is the Quartet written for the group in 1994 by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. The quartet is in three movements, and this recording of the finale was made at the RNCM Saxophone Day in 2015.

Popular Music Performance – Corona Collaboration

We are proud to be the UK’s first conservatoire to offer a degree in Popular Music, training students to become professional performers and independent original artists. We embrace the same ethos in popular music as we do across the College, bringing students together to inspire and learn from each other.

Our students have been developing a huge range of projects in recent weeks and we’re delighted to be able to share with you this fabulous band – playing together, while apart.

Short Film – Sally Beamish / Trio Apaches

To end this week’s selection, we are absolutely delighted to share this piece by Sally Beamish, performed by Trio Apaches and selected by our Head of Orchestras and Ensembles, Andrew Bayly. Andrew works closely with Sally, an RNCM alumna and recent winner of the British Composer Award for Inspiration, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in music.

The inspiration for the piece comes from artist Jila Peacock’s gorgeous ink prints. We hope you enjoy watching this beautiful film bringing music and art together, with the extra treat of narration from former RNCM President Sir Willard White.

Thank You – £10,000 Raised RNCM Hardship Fund

It’s been lovely to receive feedback from so many members of our community of music lovers and alumni. One of our supporters writes about his time in lockdown:

I’m missing my outings to the RNCM. They have been a constant source of pleasure for a number of years. It is so good to be able to watch the development of students to their professional careers. (Now) there is so much online and I think we’ve all become a little more adventurous during the lockdown!

We are pleased to have been able to shine a light on some of those more adventurous choices and perhaps encourage others to experience music outside of genres they usually enjoy.

Thank you for all your messages and, for those who have been able, your donations. Each donation has directly helped a student in need. As lockdown continues, finances are inevitably becoming more stretched. Weeks and weeks without part time income, coupled with a great number of our students’ families facing unemployment, is taking its toll for many.

Thanks to your support we have been able to double the amount of funding available to support students experiencing financial hardship. Your support reminds them how much we care. If you are able to help please do click here. Thank you. We are so very grateful.

7 May 2020