Keep Music Playing Live

We launched our Keep Music Playing blog over a year ago, to stay in touch with our wonderful RNCM community whilst our doors were sadly forced to close.

This blog has been a way to share musical treasures and inspiration from our community of gifted musicians, with contributions from our staff, students and alumni, to help combat social and cultural isolation and ensure we #KeepMusicPlaying.

We have been overwhelmed by the incredibly generous support from our community during this time, and I’d like to offer a heartfelt thank you to all our readers who have supported, and continue to support, our campaign.

As a thank you and celebration of this ongoing support, we’re extremely excited to present Keep Music Playing Live on Saturday 15 May at 7.30pm. Hosted by broadcaster, and Classic FM presenter, John Suchet, this extra special online event brings together exclusive performances from some of the blog’s featured artists, alongside a host of talented new faces from the RNCM.

All the musicians joining us on the night have deep rooted connections with the College, including RNCM Associate Members Alexandra Dariescu, A4 Brass Quartet, and Soraya Mafi. They’ll be joined by RNCM Popular Music Ambassador Ollie West, and one of our blog favourites, alumna Joanna Harries. Rounding off the line up are students from our Junior and Senior Colleges, plus renowned classical guitarist and Principal RNCM Tutor Craig Ogden. More from Craig, and A4 Brass Quartet, below.

We would love to welcome you to Keep Music Playing Live and to join our musicians for this exclusive online event. Tickets are free, but availability is extremely limited now. Click here to book yours today.

William Purcell
Supporter Engagement and Events Officer


New Album
Craig Ogden in Concert

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RNCM Director of Guitar and alumnus Craig Ogden recently released his new album, Craig Ogden in Concert. Following the success of his extensive and chart-topping discography, his latest album is a compilation of pieces Craig loves to play in concert, and includes a wide variety of music spanning three centuries, reflecting the wonderful diversity within modern classical guitar repertoire.

Craig will be sharing an exclusive performance of one of the tracks from the album, Isaac Albéniz’s Torre bermeja, at Keep Music Playing Live.

Here Craig talks about his latest release, alongside some extracts from the album:

Live from the ROSL Princess Alexandra Hall
A4 Brass Quartet

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Formed at the College in 2013, multiple award winning A4 Brass Quartet comprises players from some of the UK’s top brass bands. With ‘technical virtuosity in abundance’ (Brass Band World), the quartet are the first ensemble to have been awarded the title of RNCM Honorary Associate Artists, and were also bestowed Associate Membership of the College.

Ahead of their performance at Keep Music Playing Live, the quartet will appear on Monday 10 May at a special performance live from Princess Alexandra Hall at Royal Over-Seas League House in London. The programme features original works by Andy Wareham, Tom Harrold & Jonathan Bates, alongside music by Evelyn Glennie & Doreen Carwithen.

For more information, including tickets, click here.

Here the quartet performs Jonathan Bates’ arrangement of Richard Strauss’ Festmusik der Stadt Wien in the RNCM Concert Hall:

BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge Introducing
Bonnie Kemplay Performs in the Live Lounge

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A huge congratulations to RNCM Popular Music student Bonnie Kemplay, who has been announced as the first ever winner of BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge Introducing. Bonnie claimed the top spot ahead of 10,000 other entries, landing a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform in the iconic Radio 1 Live Lounge.

The search was conceived as a means of nurturing and developing new talent, helping to propel some of the UK’s best new acts onto a national stage as the music industry begins to emerge from the challenges of the past 12 months.

To watch Bonnie’s journey to the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, including her full set, on BBC iPlayer click here.

Watch Bonnie perform her original track Blushing in the Live Lounge:

Julia Mariko Smith
Waterperry Opera Festival

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Soprano and RNCM alumna Julia Mariko Smith sings the role of Gretel in Waterperry Opera Festival’s interdisciplinary chamber version of Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel. This new production of the timeless fairy tale will be performed within the Waterperry woodland and is perfect for all the family.

The recipient of multiple awards and prizes, including the Eva Turner Prize, Julia has performed with companies including Opera North and Wexford Opera, and appears this season at Buxton International Festival and Charles Court Opera.

For more information on Waterperry Opera Festival’s production of Hansel and Gretel, including tickets, click here.

Here is Julia’s lyrical performance of Prendi per me sei libero from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore:

Coming Up
Insights: Additional Q&A Announced

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Completing our summer season of live online Q&As with some of the brightest lights in the music industry, we’re pleased to welcome cellist Alisa Weilerstein to our Insights series in a session postposed from the Spring.

Tue 11 May // 5pm
Live Q&A with Elizabeth Llewellyn

Known for her vivid portrayals of Puccini heroines, and her full, distinctive voice, Elizabeth Llewellyn has quickly established herself internationally as one of the UK’s most dramatic vocal artists. In this Q&A, Elizabeth will talk about her journey from graduate of the RNCM to success on the Opera stage, including her recent debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Bess in Porgy and Bess.

To watch Elizabeth’s stunning Wigmore Hall debut recital, click here.

Tue 18 May // 5.30pm
Live Q&A with Alisa Weilerstein

Internationally renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein ‘doesn’t give the impression that making music involves will at all. She and the cello seem simply to be one and the same’. In this Q&A, we discover how Alisa turned the pressure of a pandemic into fuel for creativity.

Here is Alisa’s vivacious performance of the second movement from Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No 2 with Seattle Symphony:

Keep Music Playing

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The music must keep playing at this wonderful place’ RNCM Donor

Closing our doors and concert halls to the public this past year has been a huge loss for the College.  Music needs an audience and we have missed you.

Through it all, our Keep Music Playing campaign has enabled us to continue sharing our music and been a source of vital financial support for the College and our students.

Until we are able to safely open to the public again, we are still dependent on the generosity and kindness of our community to keep our music playing. If you can help, please click here to find out how every single gift directly supports our students and work. We quite simply couldn’t do it without you.

Thank you.

7 May 2021