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A student using a computer and keyboard to produce his composition

Composition

The Composition Faculty at the Royal College of Music focuses on both the creative and commercial aspects of being a composer. We aim to build and sustain your craft, be it composition for the concert hall, the opera house or for film, television and media. Composers are offered a wholly exceptional performance environment in which they have the opportunity to hear their compositions played by resident and visiting musicians, RCM orchestras, ensembles and fellow students of the highest technical and musical ability.

One-to-one lessons

One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. Our professors are some of the biggest names in their fields, including Mark-Anthony Turnage, Deirdre Gribbin, Catherine Kontz, and Gilbert Nouno as well as Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize winners Jonathan Cole and Dai Fujikura.

Meet the professors

Individual lessons and visits from established composers provide an unrivalled opportunity for students to nurture and develop creative and technical skills as well as a distinctive compositional voice.

RCM composers have enjoyed positions on young composers’ schemes at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composers Programme. Graduates have also achieved prestigious composer-in-residence positions at Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Glyndebourne Opera, the Handel House Museum and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. 

Composition for Screen

At masters level we offer Composition for Screen as a principal study option. This allows students to concentrate on developing the skills necessary for a demanding but rewarding profession. London is one of the busiest production centres in the world for the film, television and advertising industries. Studying Composition for Screen at the RCM will put you at the heart of a creative environment full of exciting potential.

Find out more

Performance opportunities

At the Royal College of Music you will have access to a wholly exceptional performance environment, with the opportunity to hear your compositions played by resident and visiting musicians, RCM orchestras, ensembles and fellow students of the highest musical ability. You are also able to make use of the RCM Studios with its facilities for electro-acoustic and screen composition, and we use platforms including Panopto for video conferencing and virtual performance.

The Composition Faculty regularly collaborates with a range of artistic organisations in London and beyond. RCM composers have worked with the Tête à Tête opera company and Bill Bankes-Jones, the Royal Academy of Arts and in collaborations with the Explore Ensemble, Fidelio Trio, Head On Photo Festival in Australia, London Film School, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins, and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, as well as a digital collaboration with English National Ballet School.

Our alumni work across the world, including Hollywood, Europe and Asia, winning BAFTAs, Grammys, Golden Globes, Academy Awards and other accolades for their work in film, television and gaming.

Recent visiting artists

Our students enjoy regular visits from world-leading professionals, including composers, arrangers and sound designers working in a number of fields. Recent visitors, who have given talks, performances and masterclasses, have included:

  • Chaya Czernowin
  • Tansy Davies
  • Brett Dean
  • George Fenton
  • Michael Giacchino
  • Harry Gregson-Williams
  • Hanspeter Kyburz
  • Helmut Lachenmann
  • David Lang
  • Colin Matthews
  • Anna Meredith
  • Nico Mulhy
  • Rachel Portman
  • Steve Reich
  • Heather Roche
  • Howard Shore
  • Mel Wesson
  • Kate Whitley
  • Debbie Wiseman
  • Gary Yershon
  • Hans Zimmer

Recent successes

RCM composers have regularly won prizes at major international competitions, including:

  • Primetime Emmy Awards
  • Grammy Awards
  • Oticons Faculty International Film Music Competition
  • BMI Student Composer Awards
  • Ivors Composers Academy awards
  • ASCAP Foundation Michelle and Dean Kay Award 
  • Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Christopher Brooks Composition Prize
  • Royal Philharmonic Large-Scale Composition Award
  • Royal Philharmonic Composition Prize

RCM composers have also enjoyed prestigious composer in residence positions with institutions such as:

  • Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
  • Glyndebourne Opera
  • Handel House Museum
  • Australian Festival of Chamber Music

Recent commissions from students, current faculty and alumni include works for:

  • Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Dame Evelyn Glennie at the BBC Proms
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
  • Ensemble Intercontemporain
  • Ensemble Modern
  • London Sinfonietta
  • Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Celebrated alumni

  • Malcolm Arnold
  • Luke Bedford
  • Frank Bridge
  • Benjamin Britten
  • Samuel Coleridge Taylor
  • Steven Daverson
  • Anne Dudley
  • Michael Finnissy
  • Raquel Garcia Tomas
  • Arne Gieshoff
  • Gustav Holst
  • Joseph Horovitz
  • Dani Howard
  • Lisa Illean
  • Constant Lambert
  • Nicola Le Fanu
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Elisabeth Lutyens
  • Dame Elizabeth Maconchy
  • Anna Meredith
  • Ernest Moeran
  • Nicholas Morrish
  • Alex Paxton
  • Barrington Pheloung
  • Edmund Rubbra
  • Roberto Sierra
  • Sir Michael Tippett
  • Mark-Anthony Turnage
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

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 about the Creative Careers Centre

Facilities

The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.

Explore our facilities with a video tour of the RCM

Key facilities at the RCM include:

  • The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall - our primary performance venue for orchestras and large ensembles.
  • Our 400-seat Britten Theatre, home to the RCM’s thriving International Opera School.
  • A new Performance Hall, offering an alternative space for ensembles, with a retractable stage, Fazioli grand piano and variable acoustics.
  • Intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance in our Performance Studio and Parry Rooms.
  • Sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods for private practice.
  • A purpose-built percussion suite – you can watch a video tour on YouTube.
  • Over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, as well as organ rooms.
  • A Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner Model A upright pianos.
  • Instrument surgeries including luthier services.
  • RCM Studios: a commercial-grade facility, enabling live broadcasts around the world.
  • Digital Innovation Lab: a state of the art recording and mixing suite.
  • RCM Library with more than 200,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, as well as access to more than 400 music journals.
  • Recently refurbished RCM Museum, holding more than 14,000 instruments, portraits and images, as well as a climate-controlled performance space and dedicated research facility.

Find out more about RCM facilities

Contact the Composition Faculty

If you have any general queries about composition at the RCM please contact our Composition Faculty Administration team. If you have any queries about interviews or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.

Composition Faculty Administration

General enquiries about the operation of the faculty and consultation lessons

composition@rcm.ac.uk

Admissions

Admissions and general audition enquiries

+44 (0)20 7591 4362

admissions@rcm.ac.uk