BBC Philharmonic

Our Professional Experience Scheme with the BBC Philharmonic gives students the chance to experience playing with a professional broadcasting symphony orchestra and to be mentored by its members.

All string, woodwind and French horn students who apply are given an audition in the Autumn term in front of a panel of BBC Philharmonic musicians. Successful applicants are then invited to sit in on rehearsals and potentially perform with the orchestra.

Working with the UK’s biggest national broadcaster is of enormous benefit for our students. The BBC Philharmonic’s scheme provides a unique opportunity to experience a fast-paced schedule, working on a very wide range of repertoire, with studio sessions and concerts that are recorded for broadcast across the UK. This brings a set of challenges that introduces students to the necessary skills required to work at the highest professional level in a recording environment.

Each successful student is allocated a BBC Philharmonic mentor who will guide them, both personally and professionally, through their orchestral experience. This will be given in the form of verbal feedback throughout the placement and a written evaluation at the end of the scheme.

Students who prove themselves particularly capable during their time with the orchestra may have the chance of being offered freelance work once they have fully completed their placement.

Conducting Opportunities

Our Professional Experience Scheme with the BBC Philharmonic also gives conducting students the chance to act as assistant conductor to the orchestra, leading to a performance as part of their final recital.

In Europe and North America it is usual for professional orchestras to have full-time assistant conductors, who will often be Masters graduates in the early years of their career. This type of position is less commonplace in the UK, and through this scheme, the RNCM’s Junior Fellow in Conducting and Masters degree students have the chance to fulfil this role on a rotational basis.

Assistantships usually last for one week of the orchestra’s schedule and the assistant attends all of the rehearsals and performances for that ‘patch’ listening from the auditorium or studio, being a second pair of ears, and advising the conductor on balance issues. Occasionally they may be called upon to conduct for a short while in a rehearsal, if the conductor wants to listen to the sound in the Hall. Each student will normally have three assistantships in each year of their programme. Many of the orchestra’s conductors, including Chief Conductor Omer Meir Wellber and regular guests such as Ludovic Morlot, Mark Wigglesworth and Simone Young, also give masterclasses throughout the year. For Masters students, the relationship culminates in their final recital which is normally half a concert with the orchestra.

This is a tremendous opportunity for the students to acquire experience with a professional orchestra. As well as the obvious musical benefits, the opportunity to network and build relationships with the Phil’s management, Music Director, guest conductors, and soloists is invaluable.

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