The London-based Royal College of Music (RCM) has announced a packed programme of events, festivals and performances, including a new production of Jonathan Dove’s opera Flight (1998), taking place throughout spring and summer.
Renowned international artists will visit RCM to share their expertise with student musicians via a series of concert performances and masterclasses. On 28 April, conductor Chloé van Soeterstède will lead the RCM Philharmonic’s performance of Brahms’s Symphony No 1 (1876), along with a 21st-century reimagining of the US’s national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, by Jessie Montgomery.
Kevin John Edusei will conduct works by Stravinsky and Samy Moussa with the RCM Symphony Orchestra on 30 June. Esteemed conductor Sir Andrew Davis will lead an innovative workshop for singers and orchestra, culminating in a performance of Berlioz’s song-cycle Les nuits d’été. Other visiting artists include Benny Greb, Francesca Dego and Stefan Dohr.
A collaboration with innovative opera company Tête à Tête will see six new mini-operas, composed and performed by students from the Royal College of Music. Taking place on 14 and 15 May, Odysseys explores the journey to self-acceptance through the eyes of diverse protagonists. In each of the six ‘odysseys’, the protagonist will embark on the journey of a lifetime, from the metamorphosis of a butterfly to a zombie on a quest to regain his humanity.
The production is directed by Tête à Tête’s founder and artistic director Bill Bankes-Jones. The orchestra comes under the baton of former Jette Parker Young Artist Timothy Burke. Set design is by Sarah Jane Booth.
Further operatic content comes in the form of acclaimed director Jeremy Sams’s new production of the airport terminal-set Flight (1998), composed by Jonathan Dove to a libretto by dramatist April De Angelis.
Taking the themes of refugeehood and citizenship, the opera will transport audiences to an airport departure lounge – where the stories of a disparate group of people are explored as they wait for a delayed flight. The story is based on the real-life experiences of Iranian refugee Mehran Nasseri.
Sams will lead students from the Royal College of Music’s Opera Studio in four performances on 28 and 30 June and 2 and 4 July. The production is conducted by RCM’s director of music Michael Rosewell, with set design by Nicky Shaw and lighting by James Whiteside.
RCM’s annual Super String Sunday returns to Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall on 1 May. A varied programme of music will be performed throughout the day starting at 11am and concluding at 4pm with a performance of Malcom Arnold’s Concerto for two violins and string orchestra.
The college’s summer season also includes four one-day festivals. The Festival of Percussion on 8 May is a varied day of events and activities, including private lessons, performances by Junior Ensembles, experienced professionals and talented RCM musicians, an all-day trade fair and interactive sessions with RCM Sparks, the college’s learning and participation programme. The event will be headlined by international rock, jazz, funk and fusion drummer Benny Greb.
RCM’s second FestivALL on 26 June shines a spotlight on diverse and under-represented voices across the classical music sector. Through performances and talks, feelings of belonging and representation will be explored, highlighting composers such as Errollyn Wallen, Hannah Kendall and Elizabeth Lutyens. There will also be family-friendly activities on offer from RCM Sparks.
This year’s Historical Performance Festival on 28 and 29 June focuses on the viol and recorder. Sessions, including talks from experts, specialist performances and masterclasses, will be led by Dutch musician Kees Boeke, an expert on early music and the recorder, and Italian virtuoso viol player Paolo Pandolfo.
The college’s inaugural Festival of Conducting will take place on 3 July. The event will highlight the RCM’s conducting students, alumni and faculty in a full day of rehearsals, masterclasses and performance.
The season will also include Royal College of Music musicians performing at venues across London. At Wigmore Hall, students from the Strings Faculty will take part in the annual RCM String Showcase on 22 May. This will feature a range of chamber works in original form alongside fascinating new arrangements. The RCM will also celebrate some of its alumni and professors at this year’s Great Exhibition Road Festival on 18 and 19 June in South Kensington.
Odysseys is a collection of six new min-operas by student composers as part of the Royal College of Music’s summer season.