Rhiannon Symonds, BMus Trombone

Why did you choose to study at the RNCM?

I had friends who had gone to the RNCM and they told me about how much you can tailor your degree to what you want to do, so that was really attractive to me. I came to the RNCM on Open Day and loved it. I went to a couple of open days to the London music colleges as well but didn’t really get on with London. So coming to the RNCM was the only option really for me. I’m really glad I came here because the atmosphere is very open and makes you want to succeed. There’s also a very good social side to College; it’s not just noses in books and practise rooms.

Do you like Manchester?

I’m from the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire just next to the Welsh border. I’ve fallen in love with Manchester since moving here. It’s a great city, there’s just so much going on. There’s loads of live music, loads of venues but it’s also very accessible. That was definitely a major selling point before I even moved here, but since moving here I’ve definitely just loved the city.

What are some highlights from your time at the RNCM?

Last December I was chosen to go to Amsterdam for a week to play with The Netherlands Wind Ensemble. I had an amazing time. The musicians were fantastic, I made loads of friends and we all now stay in touch. The fact the experience was facilitated and subsidised by the RNCM was amazing because I probably wouldn’t have been able to take part otherwise… Netherlands itself and the culture of music in Amsterdam I loved; I definitely want to spend a lot more time there in the future.

I also recently got to play with The Hallé. We all auditioned as a year group and then it was a case of who performed well at audition was chosen, so much like a professional job. That was a really good experience as well.

Outside of College I played for the touring production of Wonderland last year. I also work a lot with the Kaleidoscope Orchestra which do a lot of really fun gigs like the Gatecrasher Classical events in Sheffield and Cream Classical events in Liverpool. These opportunities have come about from just being in Manchester and getting to know people; there’s so much going on up here that it’s a really great working environment. Absolutely no lack of things going on.

How long have you played trombone?

I started when I was nine, so 12 years now. A long time. I didn’t know I wanted to study music for a long time. I nearly studied German and English. I didn’t know I wanted to do a practical degree until I moved to Manchester, visited the RNCM and the rest kind of fell into place.

What’s your favourite type of music?

To play orchestrally I do love a bit of Brahms and Mahler. My academic obsession is Russian music and what makes Russian music sound Russian. I’m doing an independent research project on that topic next year. I also really like funk, jazz, musical theatre and I’m obsessed with playing in pit bands.

Any future plans?

I’ve worked a lot since I’ve come up to Manchester on shows, so that’s realistically where my career will go. I plan on staying in Manchester after graduation. I’m hoping to start a little company running musical theatre summer holidays but for adults. I also want to keep doing the things that I’m doing already which is a lot of shows, plus the Cream Classical events and Kaleidoscope Orchestra. One thing I’ve learnt from my time at the RNCM is I love the diversity that comes with being a freelancer. I don’t think I’d suit just a plain orchestra job. I feel lucky that I’ve had the chance as a student to discover what makes me happy. Because I had no idea when I moved to Manchester what I wanted to do, even if I wanted to study music. Being at the RNCM in such a supportive environment while I’ve been able to figure everything out has been amazing; I’ve been really lucky.