Underrepresented – Keep Music Playing

Following the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement last year, the RNCM Students’ Union wanted to respond in a meaningful way and began an open dialogue about the student experience of equality, diversity, and inclusion at the College. This led to conversations with staff across the RNCM and, in response, a student-staff body, Underrepresented, was formed to enable open conversation about these important issues.

Underrepresented is motivated by the need to celebrate overlooked musical voices within the world history of music, working together to enact change across the College by bringing underrepresented music into the mainstream of our curriculum and programming. Our aim is to create new opportunities to identify, highlight, perform and share excluded and underrepresented music. This project is unique to the RNCM, and I’ve had students from other HE institutions reach out to us to ask about the work we’re doing and the resources we’ve put together.

Back in October, we marked Black History Month for the first time ever at the College and the recent RNCM Play festival featured a concert focussed on the theme of underrepresentation. Additionally, we’ve already developed resources to help students and staff with their own journey of discovery, including: repertoire lists and publications for often overlooked composers, musicians and artists; important reading and web resources relating to diversity and inclusion; and a list of organisations that are actively seeking to redress the imbalance underrepresented musicians face. Looking to the Summer term, we’re busy planning some exciting workshops and events at the College.

Whilst there is still a lot of work to be done, it is wonderful to have such an open and honest dialogue between students and staff, to have acknowledgment that change is necessary, and to see change happening in response to student voices and concerns.

We’d love for you to follow our journey and keep up to date with the work we’re doing. You can follow Underrepresented on our very, very recently launched social media pages over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Lavender Rodriguez
Underrepresented Ambassador
3rd Year BMus Composition Student


Junior RNCM’s Adam Spry
NCEM Young Composers Award
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Adam Spry

Congratulations to Junior RNCM student Adam Spry, whose piece Sweet Hop has been shortlisted in the final of this year’s NCEM Young Composers Award. The 15-year-old, who joined Junior RNCM in September to study trombone and composition, is one of five composers competing in the 18 and under category.

Presented in association with BBC Radio 3 and Palisander, this is the only such scheme in the UK, offering a unique opportunity for young composers to engage with the instruments and performance styles of early music, working with leading professional early musicians.

The Award will be judged at the National Centre for Early Music on Thursday 13 May, following a workshop led by composer Christopher Fox and a livestreamed concert at 7pm. The concert will be available to watch on the NCEM Young Composers Award website.

Leo Geyer
Constella OperaBallet
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Constella OperaBallet was recently described by Gramophone Magazine as ‘one of the inspiring organisations keeping music alive’, having put on a staggering 200 performances since the pandemic hit!

In memory of the grandmother of Artistic Director, and RNCM alumnus, Leo Geyer, Constella launched Connecting Stars, a live and interactive virtual performance programme for care home residents. Thanks to public donations and Arts Council funding, musicians and dancers were able to provide much needed culture and well-being support for care home residents across the UK.

Constella’s latest project, Spin a Tale, is a virtual and participatory programme celebrating the heritage of Darley Abbey, commissioned by the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. For more information, including how to watch from 8 May, click here.

Here is Leo on BBC News talking about his recent piece Water Boatman:

Elizabeth Karani
Opera Holland Park

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Soprano and RNCM alumna Elizabeth Karani returns to Opera Holland Park this summer, to sing Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

During her studies at the College, Elizabeth won the Dame Eva Turner Award, the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Award for Singers, and the Elsie Thurston Award. Since graduating, she has enjoyed a busy performance schedule, including performances with the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Opera North and internationally with Diva Opera, La Serenissima and the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tickets for Opera Holland Park’s The Marriage of Figaro are almost sold out, but there are still a few available. For more information and tickets, click here.

Here is Elizabeth’s humorous take on opera in lockdown with creative partner and composer Richard Barnard, and pianist Edmund Whitehead.

Ollie West
Wey Valley Radio Presents: Greats

Recent alumnus and RNCM Popular Music Ambassador Ollie West is working with Wey Valley Radio on Greats, a new monthly radio show exploring some of the greatest music ever, decade by decade. The show, curated and presented by Ollie, airs from 8pm on the first Friday of each month.

Check out the next episode of Greats, all about 1960s music, live on Friday 7 May, 8-10pm by listening on the Wey Valley Radio website, here, or on your smart speaker.

Ollie leads Ollie West & The Wildflowers, a glorious 14-piece ensemble with their roots at the RNCM. Here is the video for the band’s latest single Shelf Life:

Ollie will be joining a host of exciting artists performing at the forthcoming Keep Music Playing Live online event on 15 May. Tickets are free, but limited, click here to book yours today.

Coming Up
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We’re very happy to announce the return of Insights – our series of live online Q&As with some of the brightest lights in the music industry today.

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

Tue 8 Jun // 5pm
Live Q&A with Max Richter

Tue 22 Jun // 5pm
Live Q&A with Alice Sara Ott

In case you missed the first Insights of our Summer programme with Norwegian violinist and composer Henning Kraggerud, you can watch it back here:

Keep Music Playing
Did you know that over a quarter of our students would be unable to attend the RNCM without extra financial support?

Training to be a professional musician is a long and expensive journey and, for many of our students, impossible to navigate without extra support. The RNCM offers scholarships, bursaries and emergency funding to ensure none of our young musicians are prevented from following their dreams due to hardship. Here is a short film about how your support can transform the life chances of one of our students today:

Find out more about how you can support the RNCM here.

23 April 2021