School of Composition
As an RNCM student composer, you will be encouraged by the School of Composition’s team of highly experienced and professional tutors to unleash your full creative potential and develop your own personal style.
We feel it is critical for you to learn your craft by hearing how your compositions work in practice, and so we offer opportunities for every piece of music you write to be performed and recorded.
Programmes available in:
How You Will Learn
Throughout your degree you will receive:
- Weekly individual tuition and classes in compositional techniques
- Tuition in electro-acoustic composition
- Seminars involving the whole department
- Masterclasses and seminars with visiting tutors
- Regular Composer ‘Labs’, where you will have the opportunity to try and run through your works in progress with RNCM contemporary music ensembles.
- Regular opportunities to have your works performed
- You will regularly have your work performed in public concerts, all of which are recorded.
- There are public concerts with the RNCM Brand New Orchestra featuring new orchestral works by student composers, which takes place three times a year
- You will work closely with the specialist New Ensemble and other groups dedicated to the performance of new music
- Composition students are also involved with the range of RNCM Festivals throughout the year including Chamber Music Festival, Day of Song and New Music North West
In recent years, student composers have worked with high profile performers and ensembles including:
- BBC Singers
- Manchester Camerata
- Apollo Saxophone Quartet
- Juice Vocal Ensemble
- Christopher Fox, composer
- HK Gruber, composer
- Clare Hammond, pianist
The RNCM’s regular Composer Festivals have attracted celebrated composers including Louis Andriessen, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Magnus Lindberg, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Judith Weir, all of whom have worked with Composition students.
Our alumni have established highly successful international careers as award-winning composers; receiving commissions for festival, orchestral and solo works; composing for opera, music theatre and Hollywood films, and even celebrating as Cultural Olympiad composers. Examples of some of the School’s notable alumni include:
Sally Beamish: Celebrated British composer with works performed by leading artists, orchestras and ensembles worldwide
Sir Harrison Birtwistle: (Royal Manchester College of Music) Leading world-wide figure in contemporary music
Martin Butler: Professor of Music at the University of Sussex and pianist with the new music/ improvisatory group Notes Inegales
Alison Cox: Head of Composition at the Purcell School; founder and co-director of The Commonwealth Resounds
Larry Goves: Critically-acclaimed new music composer and RNCM Tutor
Simon Holt: Composer in Association at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Emily Howard: UBS Composer in Residence in conjunction with the London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: (Royal Manchester College of Music) Award-winning composer; Master of the Queen’s Music 2004 – 14
Peter Meechan: Musical Associate with Foden’s Band, and Composer in Residence at The Band of the Coldstream Guards
Ailís Ní Ríain: Contemporary classical composer and writer for stage
Benjamin Wallfisch: An Emmy, Ivor Novello and multiple World Soundtrack Award nominated composer and conductor
Gavin Higgins: Composer in Residence at Ballet Rambert, works widely performed including Last Night of the Proms
Recent alumni gaining considerable success in the new music world include Michael Betteridge, Laura Bowler, Steven Daverson, Daniel Kidane, Lucy Pankhurst, Matthew Sergeant and Duncan Ward.
Head of School
Professor Adam Gorb MA, MMus, ARAM, FRNCM, PhD
Tutors in Composition
Dr Laura Bowler BMus, MMus, PhD
Professor Gary Carpenter LRAM, ARCM
Professor Adam Gorb MA, MMus, ARAM, FRNCM
Dr Larry Goves BMus, MPhil, PhD
Dr David Horne BMus, PhD
Dr Emily Howard MA, MMus, PhD
Paul Patterson FRAM, FRSA, FRNCM
Visiting Tutors in Composition
Simon Bainbridge FRCM, Hon RAM
Tutor in Electro-Acoustic Composition
Dr Thomas Scott GRNCM, MusB, MusM, PhD
What Our Students Say
The School of Composition is a very friendly, open and accommodating department. You feel appreciated no matter your style of music – it’s just a matter of quality. I really enjoy collaborating with RNCM instrumentalists; those that I have worked with have been absolutely terrific. People are very open to playing new music – if you spend 10 or 20 minutes in a corridor you can probably get someone to play your piece!
BMus (Hons) Composition
Read more about our students and recent alumni on our student stories page.
Click here to read more about the audition process and audition requirements
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