RNCM Students Prepare for Paris-Manchester 1918

Our Paris Manchester 1918 project brings together young musicians from the RNCM and Conservatoire de Paris for performances in Manchester, London + Paris. We caught up with two RNCM students to find out how the project is going so far…

Lily Whitehursr / Angharad Thomas Photography

Lily Whitehurst, 1st year Masters student studying Violin

I’m involved in all the performances in Manchester, London and Paris, playing 1st violin. I’ll be leading half of the repertoire and a student from Paris will be leading the other half. We spent the first evening doing sectionals with Jim Clarke followed by a welcome reception on the concourse for all students and staff involved in sectionals. We got a chance to meet each other musically and socially!

Day two consisted of a tutti strings sectional before an evening full tutti where we had our first chance to run through the Wagner with Markus Stenz. There are an awful lot of notes for the violins! 

The next couple of weeks are set to be a lot of fun but also a lot of hard work. The repertoire is incredibly challenging and by the end of the two weeks I’m sure we’re going to be very proud of what we have achieved. As well as having made some new friends (hopefully!)

What part of the project are you most excited about?

I’m most looking forward to going to Paris and to get a feel for the Conservatoire. It’s such a beautiful place and I’m sure it’s going to inspire some beautiful music making – although Manchester did look pretty beautiful today in the snow! The Paris concert will be great – Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique is such an incredible work. 

How have rehearsals gone so far?

Great! I was concerned there might be a language barrier and therefore difficulty in communicating musical ideas but their English is amazing. Far, far, far better than my French! 

Are you excited to work with students from the Paris Conservatoire?

Very! In the strings, each desk is made up of a RNCM student and a Paris Conservatoire student. There’s a great working environment. Everyone is very encouraging, hardworking and very fun. There’s been lots of laughs so far. Tackling such fiendish music has enabled us to instantly bond over its difficulty and Jim offered us some tricks of the trade to help us help each other in the Wagner! I can’t tell you exactly what though otherwise it would give the game away!

What are you learning from the experience?

It’s amazing to work with such incredible musicians and get an insight into the way that they work. Markus gave an amazing speech when he arrived for the first rehearsal about how important it is for us to work together now more than ever after Brexit. 

William Padfield, 4th year student studying French Horn

I’m really excited for the Paris-Manchester project and I’ll be involved in three concerts, playing First Horn in Wagner’s The Ring – An Orchestral Adventure in London and in Manchester – then going on to Paris for the week, where I’ll be playing First Horn in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.  

We started this week with a reception to welcome the Paris Conservatoire students we’ll be working with and everyone is really friendly and down to earth. We’ve also had the sectionals for brass and rehearsals were initially a little challenging because of the language barrier but everyone helped each another through – and the playing standards are really high. 

What part of the project are you most excited about?

Doing the Wagner – twice! I’ve never played it before and it’s a fantastic opportunity that rarely comes up. And of course, going to Paris. I’ve never been to that part of Paris before and to actually play that Berlioz there will be very special. I really admire Markus Stenz’s conducting too, so I’m looking froward to working with him in soloistic role. 

Which concert are you most looking forward to and why? 

I’d like to say all of them! But I think the London concert at Cadogan Hall – it’s going to be exciting getting on the road; playing such a big horn piece and it’s going to be broadcast on Radio 3, too. 

Are you excited to work with students from the Paris Conservatoire?

Definitely – it’s really nice to see young people your age from a different country and see how they play. Stylistically they’re quite different, so it’s great to have that contrast and learn from it. We’ll go through rehearsals together and we’ll definitely be catching up for drinks afterwards too, so in terms of meeting other young musicians it’s exciting.

What are you learning from the experience?

This kind of project is really valuable – I especially think it’s good communication-wise to learn with people who don’t speak your language. It’s good to hear how a different country play – in case you want to audition in France for example, or work there – I think it’s great to get an insight into a different professional sphere. 

Find out more about the Paris Manchester 1918 concerts and book here 

28 February 2018