What’s on at the BBC Proms 2022?

BBC Proms 2022 looks likely to be a good one for the Corporation in its centenary year – a return to form

If the running order I have for the 2022 BBC Proms is the one that went to the printers then by my reckoning it’s, in terms of music at least, a return to form for the summer-long classical music festival.

Importantly too, the BBC’s flagship brand is making a big play of mounting concerts from a variety of locations across the UK too.

A mix of core repertoire thoughtfully programmed at key moments in the schedule hints at some artistic direction that seeks to respond to the challenging two years the world has faced.

The headline messages from the BBC Proms team are something like this (if that’s the kind of thing you’re after). Big scale performances, a unique contribution from the newly formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra (31 July), a slew of concerts from the BBC’s orchestras and ensembles, and concerts from up and down the country (not just from the Royal Albert Hall). There are concerts for kids and ‘relaxed’ concerts for the neuro-diverse.

Composers celebrated this year including Raph Vaughan Williams, Ethel Smyth, Doreen Carwithen, George Walker, Iannia Xenakis, and Cesar Franck.

Fourteen world premieres, three European premieres, three UK premieres and four London premieres. Twenty two broadcasts on TV, and every concert broadcast on BBC Radio 3. There are 9 international orchestras appearing at the 72 concert strong season. Video game music fans are also granted their first Prom too including music by Guonadottir and Slater from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Selected Highlights

I’m pleased to see horn player (and former Thoroughly Good Classical Music Podcastee) Ben Goldscheider debut at the Proms this year (look what a podcast appearance does for your reputation people), also the incredible Yuja Wang playing Lizst with the electrifying Klaus Mäkelä conducting on 12 August.

Verdi’s Requiem opens the season on 15 July – something of a memorial perhaps for what has gone before now, featuring the Crouch End Festival Chorus and BBC Symphony Chorus. Fitting.

I’m especially pleased to see Beethoven’s epic Missa Solemnis with Gardiner and Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique and Monteverdi Choir on the 7th September. My 50th. Fabulous.

Overall, in comparison to previous Proms seasons (notwithstanding the relative weirdness of the past two years), there’s more on offer that piques my interest.

There’s little that feels overtly crowbarred in (if anything I’m amazed it’s taken as long as it has to get video game music in the running order), there are just a handful of mixed genre promotions (and precious few of the often nauseating BBC-branded/themed concerts that had been appearing in the schedule in the past like the Desert Island Discs Prom).

There’s repertoire there that I haven’t previously made a beeline for (Xenakis) too, so for someone like me (long in the tooth, cynical and prone to moments of intense bitterness), there’s the opportunity for discovery. For anyone new to classical music there’s range. In that way then there’s a sense then that this is a back to what works in terms of programming. Put another way, there’s nothing on the list that immediately gets my back up.

I’m also especially impressed by the commitment to taking the Proms out of the Royal Albert Hall, to UK locations like Belfast and in particular Truro which must often feel a world away from London for classical music lovers in what is an underserved part of the country. Similarly, staging the Handel/Glass Prom at Printworks will provide entirely different visuals from the interior of the Royal Albert Hall. Seeing this event as part of the Proms family is interesting given its a co-production between a variety of organisations and the Printworks venue – will we see more of this approach in years to come?

When does the BBC Proms start and finish?

The BBC Proms runs from 15 July and finishes on Saturday 10 September. Booking opens for tickets on 21 May. Promming tickets are £6.50. Cheapest seated tickets are £8.50. Be sure to ring on the day for returns – you’ll always get something, especially if you’re happy to sit apart from your pals.

How can I listen to the BBC Proms?

Every Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Some are on TV – BBC Four, BBC One and BBC Two. They’ll all be available on BBC Sounds for 30 days after broadcast. Some will be repeated at Christmas too. Radio 3 also repeats broadcasts of each Prom in the afternoon during the summer too. Check bbc.co.uk/proms, bbc.co.uk/sounds, or bbc.co.uk/iplayer for more information.

What are the best BBC Proms to attend?

Here are Thoroughly Good you’ll find recommendations based on my personal experience. Technically speaking there’s no such thing as ‘best’ because there are no guarantees. Classical music depends on you the listener, the mood you’re in the night you’re there.

But there are some concerts in the 72 concert line-up I’m particularly drawn to, which is what the criteria is for listing them here.

Note, as this post has been written without the brochure in my hands there’s a chance some of the details are (ever so slightly) incorrect. But, keep checking back as they will be updated.

Prom 1 / Verdi Requiem – It’s the first night, the first night is special

Prom 2 / Huw Watkins Flute Concerto – Watkins is very popular amongst musicians, writes fabulous music, and I sometimes see him at my local train station when he and I are heading into or back from London.

Belfast Prom / Xenakis

Prom 7 / Dido and Aeneas / La Nuova – they were the only group who sent me an embargoed press release (shame on the rest of you)

Truro Prom / Alim Beisembayev – Lizst’s Transcendental Etudes are epic and terrifying and utterly utterly brilliant

Prom 14 / CBSO, Ben Goldscheider and Elena Urioste – both of these musicians form part of the Kaleidoscope Collective (who are brilliant), plus the gig has Rachmaninov 2 in it.

Proms 17 / Brahms German Requiem

Prom 20 / Xenakis’ Jonchaies

Prom 21 / Monday 1 August / Video Game Music featuring music by Gudnadottir, Kondo, Shumomura, Otani, and Jessica Curry – Kondo’s music makes me want to play video games and I hate video games.

Prom 26 / Friday 5 August / Julian Anderson Premiere

Prom 27 / Saturday 6 August / Danny Elfman’s Wunderkammer with the National Youth Orchestra (London Premiere)

Prom 28 / Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Prom 29 / Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Prom 30 / Tredegar Band and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Prom 31 / Ulster Orchestra with Daniele Rustioni – a grand return for Northern Ireland’s hard-working band

Prom 32 / Brass Band Prom – finally a brass band prom featuring the Tredegar Band and Yu-Hang Yang as euphonium soloist

Prom 35 / Yuja Wang playing Lizst Piano Concerto No. 1 with Klaus Makela and the Oslo Philharmonic

Prom 37 / Benjamin Grosvenor

Prom 46 / Augustin Hadelich / WDR Symphony

Prom 52 / Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Nicholas Collon and violinist Pekka Kuusisto

Prom 57 / Bach B Minor Mass with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Prom 62 / Berlin Philharmonic / Mahler 7

Prom 64 / Sir Andras Schiff / Beethoven Sonatas 30, 31 and 32

Prom 67 / Wynton Marsalis Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti – its BRILLIANT

Prom 69 / Missa Solemnis / Orchestra Revolutionnaire et Romantique

What’s on at Ryedale Festival 2022

The 40th Ryedale Festival gets underway from 15th July 2022 and concludes with a gala performance given by Royal Northern Sinfonia and trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary on 31st July 2022.

Full listings for the entire programme are available via the festival brochure and website.

Happy memories from last year’s Thoroughly Good Trip to the Ryedale Festival abound flicking through the 40th festival brochure this morning. Thanks to the work of Artistic Director and pianist Chris Glynn, Ryedale builds on its growing artistic reputation.

This year sees residencies with Roderick Williams, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Philharmonia Baroque of San Francisco, the Maxwell Quartet and Gesualdo Six, the latter’s rise during and post-pandemic across the UK and international arts scene is a delight to see.

Highlights across the 52 concerts mix appearances from Dame Janet Baker and Stephen Kovacevich, Leeds Piano Competition winner from 2021 Alim Beisembayev, Royal Overseas League Gold Medal Winner accordionist Ryan Corbett, London Mozart Players with pianist Martin James Bartlett.

There are also six world premieres from Julian Philips, Errollyn Wallen and Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Joseph Howard, Roberts Balanas and Callum Au.

Ryedale Festival Programme 2022

Full listings for the entire programme are available via the festival brochure and website. General booking opens 20th April 2022.

UK orchestras join Premier League football to build audience of the future

An innovative new scheme set up by one of the UK’s leading arts consultancies looks set to introduce live classical music performances to a whole new audience across the UK.

Pitch Invasion sees numerous UK orchestras partner with Premier League football clubs, combining live classical music performances with the beautiful game.

The project is the culmination of a year-long consultancy programme headed up by Thoroughly Good.

Thoroughly Good spent much of the pandemic thinking strategically about what would need to be done once COVID mitigations in concert venues and theatres were lifted.

During that time a rigorous feasibility study was embarked upon with cultural leaders who fine-tuned the radical new scheme that will build a new cultural audience for the future, bringing UK football clubs and orchestras together to share venues, budgets and audiences.

In an exciting series of collaborations to come, Pitch Invasion will introduce football fans to classical music in a series of stadium based concerts performed by a UK orchestra on special stages erected in stadium seating. Classical music fans will in return get reduced rate access to football matches as part of a season-wide subscription to their favourite orchestra’s concert programmes.

At an invitation-only event, earlier this week journalists were introduced to Pitch Invasion and the thinking behind the scheme.

“It seemed like a no-brainer to me,” explained Thoroughly Good’s Jon Jacob at the press event, “football has a massive following not just in the UK but across the world. Why isn’t classical music working more closely with football teams to raise the profile of the sometimes overlook musical genre?”

Jon continued: “People attending a match will now get more value from their ticket. They’ll come for football but they’ll get so much more – they’ll get all the ‘great’ classical music tunes before, during and after the match, played by an actual orchestra there in the stadium with the crowd.”

Pitch Invasion has seen multiple UK orchestras and football teams sign up before the scheme starts, currently scheduled for the beginning of the 2022/2023 season.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is said to be behind the project which will play a significant part in making up for the anticipated shortfall in Arts Council England funding brought about by the Government’s much-trumpeted ‘levelling up’ agenda.

“Many arts organisations fear a significant drop in ACE funding when money shifts to the North East,” explained Jon during the press conference, “Thoroughly Good believes that by joining orchestras and football clubs together in a sponsorship deal of this kind, a great many orchestras will be able to effectively plug the financial gap. It’s not like football clubs can’t afford it after all.”

Who’s signed up to ‘Pitch Invasion’?

The response from the UK classical scene is described as ‘really encouraging’.

Nearly all of the UK’s orchestras and ensembles have accepted the invitation, some already having signed agreements with their local clubs.

“Inevitably, the BBC were a little sniffy about it all,” explains Jon, “but the Halle are with us, so too the Philharmonia, and Bournemouth Symphony. The London Mozart Players are always keen of course. At the moment waiting on the Royal Scottish and a few others. Aurora Orchestra were supposed to be getting in touch about playing some symphony or something from memory, but we suspect they forgot to come back to us.”

The implementation of the scheme follows an extensive series of trials bringing string quartets and wind quintets to Sunday morning five-a-side football matches. “What really surprised us during the trial was the music played actually helped the young players on the pitch – it made them less aggressive, perhaps even more collaborative,” explained Jon.

Pitch Invasion isn’t so much introducing new audiences to classical music as forcing it on an unsuspecting one – in a similar way as Bruckner is often programmed at more ‘conventional’ concerts.”

jon jacob, thoroughly good

When Pitch Invasion goes live later in the year, orchestras and ensembles will make use of a variety of outdoor tents, marquees and gazebos protecting musicians and audiences from the outdoor elements during the live performances.

One football club will make use of the same outdoor concert venue Edinburgh Festival introduced at the height of the pandemic. Outline plans make it clear that audience members will – unlike many concert venues – be allowed to take drinks to the performance.

Academy of Ancient Music and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will join forces to demonstrate the manufacture of catgut strings with real-life cats in a yurt

“It’s all about partnerships now in the arts world,” explained Jon Jacob during the launch event earlier this week. “With Arts Council England insisting on demonstrating relevance in NPO applications going forward, we see Pitch Invasion as an effective way of not only illustrating relevance but also introducing the art form to a much wider audience. We’re keen to prove to as wider an audience as possible that classical isn’t stuffy and not film music.”

When the scheme gets underway in the summer it’s hoped Pitch Invasion will quickly expand its scope, adding to the live performance element with pitchside stalls selling arts, crafts, and street food. In an exciting development, it’s believed the Academy of Ancient Music and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment both famed for their historically informed performance will join forces to demonstrate the manufacture of catgut strings with real-life cats in a yurt that tours the country.

What are the future plans for Pitch Invasion?

 “We’re looking at the entertainment option beyond the length of the football match to include different themed programmes and activities. We want to challenge the assumptions made about classical music, and those held about football fans.” continues Jon.

“We’re particularly pleased that Manchester Collective have already committed to running late night programmes at Manchester City on Saturday nights with that predictable electic sets hosted by the 6Music presenter Elizabeth Alker. If we can introduce things like a Meet and Greet with Premier League players too, then the influencers will have loads to Instagram the fuck out of it all too.”

“Going forward I’m especially looking forward to seeing the cross-fertilisation of talent – classical musicians getting the opportunity to improve their fitness in close collaboration with footballers and footballers getting the chance at a second career as musicians when their playing days are over.”

Regents Opera Ring Cycle Fundraiser March 2022

Regents Opera launches its Ring Cycle with a £500K fundraiser event

Regents Opera in London launched their epic three-year production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with a Gala Evening Fundraiser in Islington Assembly Hall last night.

Selected cast members joined Regents Opera Artistic Director Ben Woodward and a small orchestra on the stage for excerpts from The Ring. Performances were received with enthusiastic applause.

Regents Opera is looking to raise in excess of £500,000 to stage starting in November 2022 with Das Rheingold. The cycle will conclude in December 2024 with a run of Götterdämmerung.

Audience members were treated to a selection from the cycle include scene one from Rheingold, Winterstürme featuring Justine Viani and Sieglinde, and Ronald Samm as Siegmund from act 1 of Die Walküre. Keel Watson’s performance of Wotan’s ‘Leb’ wohl’ from Die Walküre was especially touching.

Regents Opera’s vision (according to its Twitter bio) to stage ‘big opera on a small scale’ was evident in the orchestral accompaniment for the evening – the first peak at a cut-down arrangement for nine string players, reduced wind and brass. In places the technical demands of Wagner’s writing were evident – there is absolutely nowhere to hide when the forces are so stripped back.

But the scaled-back sound combined with the full power of a stunning ensemble going full pelt on the top notes made me, at least, raise a hand to my chest and gasp. The immediacy of the score combined with the proximity of the singers made this a surprisingly engaging listen and made me want to hear more.

£510,000 is not an insignificant amount of money to have to raise in order to break even (based on a 95% box office), £350,000 of which is for cast, chorus, and 18 piece orchestra. An auction on the night raised (by my rough optimistic estimates) around £10K, so there is some way to go yet.

What’s impressive is the ambition that drives the project, evident in the accompanying programme outlining the financial ask and profiling some of the artists taking part. This energy was matched by the enthusiasm amongst the guests too. Up close in Islington Assembly Hall last night there was great spirit on display.

Classical music in the top ten of BBC Sounds music mixes

BBC Sounds today shared their quarterly top ten podcasts, downloads and on-demand requests for Q4 2021. Seeing classical music feature prominently in the Top Ten Music Mixes surprised me (in a good way).

It will no doubt be grist for Torygraph’s Ivan Hewett’s mill who last year bemoaned the growing number of curated music mixes on BBC Sounds as evidence of the dumbing down of a treasured art form at the hands of the cultural vandals the BBC currently has on its payroll.

Bad Jon. Behave.

I argued last year that curation on BBC Sounds was a listening experience offered to users who have come to expect similar from other streaming platforms. To offer such curated lists showed how the BBC digital types understood what needed to be done in order to be competitive.

That the ‘Mindful Mix’ (a list largely made up of similarly paced core repertoire and under-represented piano music interspersed with the occasional birdsong track) is high up in the list shows that BBC Sounds is delivering what its audience wants. It’s also what the wider audience wants – that’s why the likes of Classic FM and Scala Radio offer a similar product in their linear schedule (though Scala’s ‘In The Park’ never really reached as high in the fledgling classical station’s monthly streams as compared to Mark Kermode’s weekly Film Music love-in).

Mindful Mix from BBC Sounds like Classical Focus (also in the top ten list) isn’t especially original, but it shows the BBC catering for what the audience wants right now.

True to form the BBC is cagey about just how many downloads there are of any given programme, podcast or mix, revealing only the broad top-line figure of 364 million plays across the platform in Q4, 5.2 million of which were for all of the music mixes combined.

But where BBC Sounds undoubtedly succeeds compared to its rivals is its basic user experience.

Open the BBC Sounds App and search for the music mix in question and it comes up; select ‘Classical’ as genre, and the music mix is the first to be returned.

And, a quick test on my Alexa demonstrated BBC Sounds superiority over rival broadcasters offering similar content.

Call out ‘Alexa BBC Sounds’ and you’re prompted for a show title. Request ‘Mindful Mix’ and Alexa picks up where I left off in the bath listening (whilst I drafted this post). The transition between devices is smooth. And the listening experience I get in the end meets my expectations, also comprising some music with which I’m unfamiliar. The user experience is efficient, the listening experience strong on discovery.

Scala Radio in comparison needed me to call ‘Planet Radio’ in order to offer me the chance to call a ‘show’ and even then only after a lengthy announcement and an instruction to link my Planet Radio account. It said it would send me a link to do that (as Alexa clearly picked up on my irritation) but as yet it’s not arrived. That said, I was able to play Scala Radio live. Fortunately, it was piano music.

Users or listeners not familiar with the way Bauer Radio (Scala’s owner) is set up would have to be pretty committed to listening to any bonus curated content the station had to offer. Until Bauer sorts out what it calls its products then access comparable products is going to be (to coin an Alan Partridge phrase) a long and drawn-out affair.

Classic FM has an advantage over Scala Radio – its parent company is known a little better to me because I listen to LBC quite a bit. There was no extraneous announcement once I’d called up Global Player although Alexa struggled to recognise any of Global’s classical music playlists (Global’s equivalent to BBC Sounds Music Mixes).

So, the music mixes BBC Sounds are putting out work. They’re catering well for an on-demand audience. The content combined with an efficient user experience lacking in any flummery makes these mixes winners for me.

And, I imagine that over time rather like Netflix, BBC Sounds will start recommending things based on my listening preferences too. The challenge then becomes reinforcing in the mind of the new listener that they are actually listening to classical music and linking that-up to the idea of attending a live concert experience. Quite some challenge. Worth keeping an eye on.

Line-up revealed for an extended Aldeburgh Festival running from 3-26 June 2022

With 2021 heading towards its inexorable demise, news of events scheduled for 2022 hits my inbox and brings a smile to my face. I could do with some cheering up. I don’t want to be all doom and gloom about, wearing my heart on my sleeve (again), but it really can’t be overstated just how positive an impact a well-timed festival announcement can have, especially if that festival just happens to be situated in the most gorgeous (and arguably) perfect part of the UK.

The Aldeburgh Festival returns next year for its 73rd, spotlighting 50 years of Britten and Pears’ talent development scheme – The Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, premiering 41 new works, and celebrating what would have been the 70th birthday of the late great much-loved composer and conductor Oliver Knussen.

Artists performing include Nicola Benedetti, composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson, pianist Clare Hammond, cellist Laura van der Heijden, chamber music from the Kaleidoscope Chamber Ensemble, The Hermes Experiment, and Piatti and Solem Quartets.

Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Ivor Award-winning work Catamorphosis features in a CBSO concert. There’s music too from organist Anna Lapwood with a performance of her transcription of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes. I spy too a performance on 4th June led by Mark Simpson featuring his blistering work for wind ensemble Geysir, and Mozart’s Gran Partita. There’s also a chance to hear the Echoes and Embers I heard at Lammermuir Festival earlier this year.

The press release is epic – running to 8 pages with detailed listings which are dizzying to look at. Visit the Britten Pears website and start dreaming of sunny days on the edge of a marsh looking out towards the North Sea. June 2022 looks set to be brilliant and be almost entirely based in East Suffolk.

Ivors Composer Awards 2021 nominees announced

The Ivors Academy have revealed the nominees for classical, jazz and sound art for The Ivors Composer Awards 2021. The winners will be revealed in a live ceremony on 8 December at the British Museum.

In a change with previous years and to reflect the impact the pandemic has had on the music world, The Ivors Academy has included new works on a commercial recording – as long as the recording was the first time the work had been heard by the public – in addition to concerts that were live-streamed anywhere in the world, as long as the concert could be viewed by the UK public.

This year’s nominations include composers such as Tansy Davies, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Howard Goodall and James MacMillan. 40% of the composers in the running for an Ivor Novello Award this year are first-time nominees, including Nwando Ebizie, Nikki Iles, Dave Manington, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Alex Paxton, who has three works nominated.

The Ivors Composer Awards are supported by PRS for Music.

JAZZ COMPOSITION


BYE by ALEX PAXTON
for small jazz ensemble and improviser

CORNCRACK DREAMS
by ALEX PAXTON
for trombone, keyboard and drums

DREAMS by BRIGITTE BERAHA and DAVE MANINGTON
for jazz sextet

THE CAGED BIRD by NIKKI ILES
for jazz band

THE RISE OF THE LIZARD PEOPLE by IVO NEAME
for jazz orchestra

LARGE SCALE COMPOSITION


CATAMORPHOSIS by ANNA THORVALDSDOTTIR
for orchestra

DEMOCRACY DANCES by CONOR MITCHELL
for symphony orchestra

KAAMOS by LARA POE
for orchestra

PHARMAKEIA by JAMES DILLON
for 16 players

THIS DEPARTING LANDSCAPE by MARTIN SUCKLING
for orchestra



SMALL CHAMBER COMPOSITION


A FIELD GUIDE TO PEBBLES by LYNNE PLOWMAN
for percussion duo

NIGHTINGALES: ULTRA-DEEP FIELD by TANSY DAVIES
for string quartet

SOMETIMES VOICES by ALEX PAXTON
for keyboard and drums

STILL LIFE by STEPHEN GOSS
for cello and guitar

WICKED PROBLEMS by LAURA BOWLER
for voice, bass flute and fixed tape part

SOLO COMPOSITION
‘ECHO THE ANGELUS’ by JAMES DILLON
for piano

FADING SPELLSPHERE by BEN GAUNT
for piano

LAMPADES by MARTIN IDDON
for tuba and fixed media

LINEAR CONSTRUCTION (NO. 5) by ALEX GROVES
for cello

NO ONE by ROBIN HAIGH
for harp



SOUND ART


FIRE PREVENTION OR HOW TO SING A LABYRINTH OR THE REBEING AND THE BURNING OF THE LABYRINTH by NWANDO EBIZIE
for piano, voice and electronics with field recordings

LONDON 26 AND 28 MARCH 2020: IMITATION: INVERSION by CAROLINE KRAABEL
for baritone, alto and sopranino saxophones and double bass

NOCTURNAL INSIGHTS by NIKKI SHETH
for field recordings of crepuscular and nocturnal wildlife in the UK

THE CUCKMERE SOUNDWALK by ED HUGHES
for chamber orchestra

WAVES OF RESISTANCE (RADIO ART WITHOUT BORDERS) TONNTA FRIOTAÍOCHTA (EALAÍNE RAIDIÓ GAN TEORAINNEACHA) by MAGZ HALL
radiophonic poem, WASP synth and location recordings from the Irish Sea and Canterbury Garden



VOCAL OR CHORAL COMPOSITION


BARUCH – TEN PROPOSITIONS OF BARUCH SPINOZA FOR TENOR AND PIANO by MICHAEL ZEV GORDON
for tenor and piano

GYÖKÉR (ROOT) by THOMAS ADÈS
for mezzo-soprano and four percussionists

NEVER TO FORGET by HOWARDGOODALL
for SATB choir and small orchestra

THINKING I HEAR THEE CALL by CHERYL FRANCES-HOAD
for soprano, speaker and electronics

VIDI AQUAM by JAMESMACMILLAN
for 40 a cappella voices, split into 8 SSATB choirs

London’s newest museum to open to public at Royal College of Music

The Royal College of Music’s new museum in its refurbished Prince Consort Road building houses 60 of the institutions 1500-strong collection of instruments plus a myriad of tantalising musical artefacts from past students too. A treasure trove for those of us who love to peer at detail and let our imagination take flight.

The museum is open to the public for free – part of the Royal College of Music’s aim to make itself more open beyond its students.

The extent to which the museum itself will prove a draw for UK (or international when the rules allow) cultural tourists was difficult to grasp when I visited the museum in a press preview last week. In fairness I was, true to form, running low on energy the day I visited. This may well account for my initial perspective on the space.

That said, I found the exhibition thought-provoking.

On display are moments from history, potent examples of instruments denoting status. A bygone age when music and the technology required to create it were celebrated. When did we lose sight of that? When did music start being taken for granted? When did it assume the same status as the likes of gas, electricity or running water?

The exhibition will support RCM students in their own studies. And for those visitors to London who are up for venturing north of the Victoria and Albert or Science museums (or who in the summer might have tickets for the Proms) the Royal College will come with a valuable offer over and above learning: another public-access cafe with toilet facilities.

This observation isn’t a back-handed compliment. If memory serves me correctly, one of Harry Selfridge’s priorities when establishing his epic department store was laying on the facilities he knew his core audience needed back when the store that takes his name to this day was set up in 1908. Make yourself useful in the first instance and tempt them with the treats once they’re inside.

In that way, the Royal College has stolen a march on its nearby rivals the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. I like the approach.

Many a time I’ve sauntered past Trinity Laban in Greenwich listening to multiple musicians practising orchestral excerpts wanting to be ‘closer to the action’.

If the Royal College succeed in scheduling daytime and museum-bound performances then they’ll create a daytime destination for the likes of me. Free access to their considerable collection of musical instruments and artefacts plus a cracking a cafe will do just fine.

Access is free but visitors need to book a ticket to guarantee access. More information on the Royal College of Music Museum website.

New record label October House Records to pay 85% of subscriptions to its artists launches October 1

A new subscription based record label launches on October 1, promising its artists 85% of the monies raised. October House Records begins its commercial life as an online streaming platform and publishing house spotlighting new music from some of this country’s leading artists. 

One of the albums which features as part of the launch package is a live recording of a concert in this year’s Spitalfields Festival featuring RPS nominated artist Heloise Werner. Also included in the roster of artists is Kit Downes & Shiva Feshareki. 

I also spy Zoe Martlew making an appearance with her piece Salamander which I believe I’m right in saying formed part of a PRS for Music online composition project produced by the brilliant Harriet Wybor back in the early days of lockdown 2020. 

October House Records launches with 9 new albums and projects and is run as both a record label and a paid-for subscription streaming/download platform for the material they release (audio, audio-visual and sheet music/scores). New releases will be issued in batches of around 10 albums or projects every 3 months.

Sign-up for UK Conservatoire 16 December conference ‘Strengthening Music in Society’

‘Strengthening Music in Society’ is a conference taking place on 16 December 2021, hosted and convened by the Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts at Guildhall School of Music & Drama in association with Conservatoires UK (CUK), the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC) and SEMPRE.

This will be the first opportunity for people working in higher education to respond to a major AEC report focussing on “Strengthening Music in Society” (2017-21).

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Professor Helena Gaunt, Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama who will give a keynote presentation highlighting key issues and questions that are raised in the AEC report.
  • Ankna Arockiam, PhD candidate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and founder of Shared Narratives – the student perspective
  • Diana Salazar, Director of Programmes at the Royal College of Music – the pedagogic perspective
  • Professor Graham Welch, UCL Institute of Education Established Chair of Music Education – the research perspective
  • Linda Begbie (Development Director) Manchester Collective – the employer perspective
  • Gillian Moore, CBE, Director of Music, Southbank Centre, London – the Industry perspective
  • James Njoku-Goodwin, CEO, UK Music – the Government & Policy perspective

Read Musicians as “Makers in Society”: A Conceptual Foundation for Contemporary Professional Higher Music Education

Sign-up for live-stream access here.