This autumn, the Royal College of Music (RCM) presents a diverse range of concerts, talks and events including a series of performances inspired by nature.
- Performances of RCM alumnus and professor Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending and A Sea Symphony combine with his lesser-known works as 150th anniversary celebrations draw to a close.
- The Sounds of Scotland are brought to life by the RCM Philharmonic with Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Scottish composer James MacMillan’s Ninian.
- Sakari Oramo, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, directs the RCM Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto and Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony.
With repertoire transporting audiences over land and sea, the natural world takes centre stage throughout this season. The RCM Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ monumental A Sea Symphony (27 and 28 October) as 150th anniversary celebrations of the renowned RCM alumnus and former professor reach their conclusion. Created over six years, his vivid depiction of the ocean brought him to prominence and established his voice as a composer. The ocean’s depths are explored further through lesser-known masterpieces including Crumb’s haunting depiction of whale song, Vox Balaenae (2 November). Audiences can also travel from the rolling English countryside of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending (2 November), and the dramatic Scottish backdrop of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture (29 September), to the quintessentially American scenes of Copland’s Appalachian Spring (9 November). The English countryside provides further inspiration with performances of Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Suite (21 September) and Ten Blake Songs (26 September).
Celebrated international performers share their expertise with RCM musicians through a series of masterclasses, giving audiences an insight into the process behind the performance. RCM alumna and Fellow Dame Sarah Connolly returns to the Britten Theatre to work with talented singers from the RCM Opera Studio (14 September).World-renowned pianist Angela Hewitt returns to the College (11 October) and Maxim Vengerov gives another of his popular masterclasses (27 September).
RCM ensembles will also benefit from professional coaching from renowned international conductors. Fresh from the opening night of the BBC Proms, Sakari Oramo makes his debut visit to the RCM, leading the RCM Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no 4 in G major (13 October). Other notable events this season include an RCM Philharmonic workshop performance of Beethoven’s Symphony no 8 in F major led by Chloé van Soeterstède (23 November). Prince Consort Professor of Conducting, Martyn Brabbins, leads the RCM Symphony Orchestra in a concert of three contrasting and vivid works (17 November) including Shostakovich’s cinematic Eleventh Symphony. Elsewhere, Ben Palmer and the RCM Philharmonic bring the silver screen to South Kensington with an Orchestral Masterworks concert entitled Hollywood: Then and Now (3 November). This concert promises iconic music from blockbuster films including the main themes from Star Wars and Star Trek, the Jaws Suite and the 20th Century Fox Fanfare.
A Guitar Festival celebrates the life of Julian Bream (27 November), with a day of masterclasses and workshops. The Festival culminates in an evening concert showcasing the exceptional talent of international guitarists including John Williams OBE, Ben Johnson, Laura Snowden and Matthew Wadsworth. RCM alumna and experimental composer Shiva Feshareki curates an innovative concert of electronic music featuring her own compositions and those of current RCM composers (7 November). A two-day symposium (9 and 10 December) and organ recital (9 December) celebrate the 200-year anniversary of César Franck with talks, masterclasses and live performances.
There are several ways to explore the history of music as the Royal College of Music Museum launches new events. In addition to its Friday lunchtime Music in the Museum series (starting 23 September) and guided tours (from 14 September), the Museum introduces relaxed opening sessions with SEN packs and adjusted sound and light levels. There are workshops and concerts aimed at those between 2 and 18 years old, in association with RCM Sparks. The Museum also invites adult learners to explore its collections with object-based learning sessions in the newly opened Wolfson Centre in Music & Material Culture (14 October and 18 November) and hosts its first Museum Late (26 October).
This season, the RCM Opera Studio takes audiences on a farcical journey into the abyss with Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld (21, 23, 25 and 26 November). Director Louise Bakker and conductor Michael Rosewell present a new production of the riotous work inspired by the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. A racy translation by renowned director Jeremy Sams features mistaken identities, quick wit and the infamous Can-Can, in what promises to be a hilarious evening in the Britten Theatre.
Booking for the RCM’s Autumn Season is open now for RCM Friends and general booking opens on Wednesday 24 August 2022. Booking for Orpheus in the Underworld opens on 5 October (28 September for RCM Friends). Listings and detailed information can be found in the What’s On section of the RCM website. For all the latest updates, follow the RCM on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram