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Student conducting in the RCM's Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall

Conducting

The Royal College of Music’s two-year postgraduate course in orchestral conducting is designed to support students as they develop their own individual conducting style. From contemporary compositions to large symphony orchestra repertoire, recording sessions to rehearsals and concerts, you will be involved in all aspects of musical life at the RCM.

Conducting at the RCM

Peter Stark, one of our three professors of Postgraduate Conducting, and student conductor Richard Miller discuss the fantastic opportunities and training available at the RCM in the video above.

For undergraduate students, a conducting module is available which introduces the challenges and rewards of conducting as part of their wider study. Conducting is also available as a second study specialism to promising undergraduates and postgraduates. Second study students can enjoy a mixture of individual and class lessons focusing on the skills and knowledge necessary to develop in this field.

One-to-one lessons

One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. Each of our conducting professors brings a different but compatible approach to teaching, drawing on the wealth of experience they have in their own fields.

Meet the professors

Postgraduate conducting

A detailed programme of technical and repertoire study supported by the three conducting professors and regular guest masterclasses complements a wealth of high quality podium time, including public performances with full orchestra, orchestral and sectional preparation for visiting international conductors, individual projects, and regular collaborations with the Composition Faculty.

Conductors at the RCM have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills, gaining an all-round understanding of the artistic, psychological, practical and business issues involved in making a career as an orchestral conductor.

Professional engagement will be a key component of your experience as a conductor at the RCM. Industry professionals periodically meet with our students, providing valuable insights and career advice. One recent visitor was Paul Hughes, General Manager of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, who shared his thoughts on programme planning, from both artistic and financial points of view. In addition, visiting conductors of the highest calibre often work with RCM conducting students on preparing performances of key repertoire.

Postgraduate student Asier Puga conducting during a public performance in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall

Recent visiting artists

Students regularly enjoy the opportunity to learn from British conductor Martyn Brabbins, our Visiting Professor of Conducting. We were also regularly visited by the late Bernard Haitink. Other recent visitors have included:

  • Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Vladimir Jurowski
  • Holly Mathieson
  • Sir Roger Norrington
  • Sir Antonio Pappano
  • Rafael Payare
  • Vassily Petrenko
  • Jac van Steen
  • John Wilson
  • Thomas Zehetmair

Performance opportunities

First-study conducting students regularly rehearse and perform with our in-house ensembles, including the RCM Philharmonic, RCM Symphony Orchestra, and various new music ensembles. They often premiere new works by RCM composers working with the RCM New Perspectives ensemble or as part of our cutting-edge From the Soundhouse series.

All of these public conducting opportunities are an integral part of the RCM’s annual programme of events. In addition, our students have directed RCM orchestras in external venues, including London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Recent student-led projects have included a Conductors' Podium including music by Milhaud, Elgar and Korngold, and a French Baroque project in collaboration with our Vocal & Opera and Historical Performance faculties.

Repertoire

Conducting students engage with a lot of repertoire, covering a broad range of styles, and are strongly encouraged to explore and programme a diverse range of composers. Alongside ongoing collaborations with the composition and composition for screen students, an example of a recent term’s worth of repertoire for a typical student might be:

  • Beethoven Symphony no 6
  • Boulanger D’un matin de printemps
  • Brahms Symphony no 1
  • Coleridge-Taylor Overture to Hiawatha
  • Debussy Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
  • Mozart Cosi fan Tutte (complete)
  • Ravel Daphnis and Chloe Suite No.2
  • Schumann Symphony no 4
  • Shostakovich Symphony no 10
  • Stravinsky Rite of Spring
  • Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4
  • Wagner Overture to Der Fleigender Holländer
  • Walker Lyric for Strings

Graduate successes

RCM conducting graduates are working successfully across the music world including:

  • Andrew Gourlay as Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Castilla y Léon.
  • Rui Pinheiro as Principal Conductor of Orquestra Classica do Sui in Portugal.
  • Graham Ross as Director of Music and Fellow of Clare College Cambridge and co-founder and Principal Conductor of The Dmitri Ensemble.
  • John Wilson as Founder and Director of the John Wilson Orchestra.

Celebrated alumni

  • Sir Colin Davis
  • Sir Charles Groves
  • Simon Halsey
  • Sir Neville Marriner
  • Sir Roger Norrington
  • Leopold Stokowski
  • John Wilson

Career development

The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.

The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.

Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.

Find out more

Facilities

We continually invest in our facilities to ensure RCM students have the very best opportunities. Our impressive performance spaces are matched by top-quality academic and technical provisions, such as our historic library and professional grade studios. The Royal College of Music is proud to offer some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world.

The RCM has three major performance spaces. The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall which has an illustrious history and is the primary performance venue for RCM orchestras and large ensembles. Our 400-seat Britten Theatre boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. The Performance Hall offers an alternative space for ensemble performances and orchestral rehearsals. It boasts a retractable stage, a Fazioli grand piano, comprehensive technical infrastructure and variable acoustics, providing versatility for the range of events staged by the College.   

In addition, more intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance include the Performance Studio and The Parry Rooms, which have unparalleled views of the Royal Albert Hall, and our 100-seat Recital Hall. 

As well as practice rooms and space for one-to-one and group teaching, the RCM contains dedicated opera rehearsal spaces, a number of sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, and a recently opened Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner pianos, instrument storage with special facilities for harps and double basses, plus in-house instrument workshops.

RCM Studios is a commercial-grade facility, equipped with professional audio, video and composition technologies, supporting the RCM’s recording needs and enabling live broadcast of performances around the world.

The RCM Library contains more than 400,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, plus access to more than 400 music journals. The library also subscribes to many online resources including Oxford Music Online, Naxos Music Library, JSTOR, Met Online and the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. In addition, the RCM also boasts an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) early printed editions and archives. Our musicians also have access to thousands of scores online through our partnership with nkoda, and Henle digital sheet music.

The RCM Museum holds more than 15,000 instruments, portraits, images and engravings dating from the late 15th century to the present day, some of which are the earliest known examples of their kind. These items offer fascinating insight into the past, present and future of music and provide a coherent and comprehensive resource for the documentation, research and representation of the history of musical performance and instrument-making in London, particularly between the 18th and 20th centuries. Collection items regularly feature in academic and popular publications, television and radio programmes and as loans to major international exhibitions in Europe and beyond.

As part of a £3.6 million National Lottery Heritage Funded project, the Museum collection has been greatly enhanced and revitalised in a suite of purpose-built spaces that include accessible permanent display and temporary exhibition galleries, a ‘hands-on’ discovery area, a climate-controlled performance space and a dedicated research facility.

Contact the Conducting Faculty

If you have any general queries about conducting at the RCM please contact the Conducting Faculty Administration team. If you have any queries about auditions or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.

Conducting Administration team

General enquiries about the operation of the team and consultation lessons

conducting@rcm.ac.uk

Admissions

Admissions and general audition enquiries

admissions@rcm.ac.uk