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Performance opportunities

Horns rehearsing in AFCH
Royal College of Music students have access to unmatched performance opportunities often in prestigious venues and with the most highly regarded guest artists.

The College's diverse events calendar includes more than 500 events per year, ranging from masterclasses and chamber concerts to orchestral concerts and fully staged operas, giving you as much performance experience as possible. A back catalogue of our previous events is available to browse on Issuu and many of our performances can be viewed on the RCM's YouTube channel.

We have several large ensembles in addition to our main orchestras, and composers can hear their work performed by fellow musicians too. Solo opportunities are numerous, with concert slots available every week, and students are actively encouraged to form chamber groups to help broaden their repertoire and develop their talent. RCM musicians benefit not just from the world-class facilities of the College but also from the chance to perform across London and further afield.

Visiting ensembles, including the Harlem Quartet and Sacconi Quartet, provide further opportunities to play alongside professional performers.

Rafael Payare conducts Still & Mahler

The RCM Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Payare, perform William Grant Still’s Darker America and Mahler's Symphony no 6.

Perform to a global audience 

RCM students perform regularly as soloists and chamber musicians at venues across London and beyond, including Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Southbank Centre, the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room, Victoria and Albert Museum and local venues including St James’s Piccadilly and St Mary Abbots, Kensington. In addition, we livestream selected events to large online audiences through our website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Our ensembles often participate in festivals at major London venues. The RCM Symphony Orchestra regularly performs at the South Bank including as part of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s City of Light festival, Stravinsky: Myths & Rituals and Voices of Revolution: Russia 1917 series.

The RCM enjoys partnerships with several overseas institutions, providing opportunities for students to work on projects abroad. Our associations with the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles (CMBV) led to performances at festivals across France and with Sir Roger Norrington at the BBC Proms. We have taken part in joint projects with the Opera de Paris, the Paris Conservatoire, UDK in Berlin, MDW in Austria, and many others.

Between them, our percussion ensemble PERC’M and the RCM Baroque Ensemble have toured the USA, Italy, Switzerland, France and Bolivia, as well as the UK. Exchange schemes also provide opportunities for RCM students to perform overseas. In the past this has included side-by-side performances with professional ensembles at locations as far away as Sydney.

A festival atmosphere

Our regular festivals combine concerts, workshops and masterclasses by RCM professors and world-class visiting artists with performance opportunities for RCM students. Many of our festivals are nationally and internationally renowned, attracting large audiences in person and online via RCM Live.

Our festivals include:

  • Keyboard Festival
  • RCM Festival of Percussion
  • Super String Sunday
  • RCM International Double Bass Festival
  • RCM International Guitar Day
  • FestivALL – a day of music by under-represented composers 
  • Historical Performance Festival

In addition we host a composer in residence of the highest renown once a year. In recent years this has included Steve Reich, Chaya Czernowin and Mark Anthony Turnage. We also dedicate series of concerts and workshops to music of particular places, times or themes.

RCM ensembles

The RCM runs a number of in-house ensembles including orchestras, choirs, jazz bands and faculty ensembles. All perform on a regular basis, giving students the chance to hone their skills in a wide variety of repertoire.

Find out more about ensembles at the RCM

Opera

The RCM Opera Studio is recognised worldwide for its high performance standards. We present three fully staged operatic productions a year, along with opera scenes and special projects. Some of the world's most acclaimed directors, designers and choreographers join us for these productions, providing a professional experience within a supportive environment. Every opera is normally double cast to maximise the number of students who can benefit from this vital experience.

Handel’s Rodelinda was produced and directed specifically for film and fully staged opera returned to College with a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in autumn 2021. We also present biennial fully staged productions of mini-operas written by RCM student composers. Operas are available to view on the RCM YouTube channel, and on operavision.eu including Mozart Le nozze di Figaro, directed by Sir Thomas Allen. 

Find out more about RCM Opera Studio

Concertos & competitions

The RCM runs several solo competitions and winners often receive showcase performances during the Autumn Term.

Our keenly contested concerto competition offers instrumentalists and singers the chance to perform alongside world-leading conductors in our prestigious orchestral concert series. Composers also enter the competition, providing a valuable opportunity to have their works rehearsed and premiered by high-calibre musicians.

Our faculties also run their own competitions for soloists and chamber ensembles.

In recent years, Victor Maslov played Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no 3 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the RCM Symphony Orchestra; while at the RCM performances have included Alim Beisembayev playing Ravel’s Piano Concerto, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, and performances of Grøndahl’s Trombone Concerto, Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto no 1, and Weber’s Bassoon Concerto.

Collaborations

We enjoy extremely productive relationships with a wide range of institutions across the UK and beyond.

For the very best orchestral students we offer formal sit-in schemes with a number of orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera Orchestra. These mentorship programmes are extremely valuable, offering the chance to gain experience of the profession itself. Singers have opportunities to perform with the London orchestras in their regular programmes, and select projects with English National Opera.

RCM recorder player at Royal Academy art and music event

RCM recorder player performing at an art and music event at the Royal Academy

Collaborations with museums and galleries provide opportunities for our students to present their work in front of large, appreciative audiences and to consider their music making in relation to other art forms. Recent performances include events with our major partners in Exhibition Road, at the National Gallery and Royal Academy of Arts, and as part of the Head On Festival in Sydney, Australia.

Collaborations between student composers and performers are firmly rooted in the curriculum and result in a range of public concerts. These collaborations give composers the chance to have their works brought to life by brilliant musicians, and give performers an insight into how music is conceived.

Our radical Great Exhibitionists series offers students the chance to devise their own ground-breaking multi-genre events. With the full support and mentorship of the RCM, composers and performers are given the opportunity to present unique projects that stretch the boundaries of what classical music means today.

Specialist performance

As well as training in core repertoire, RCM students have the opportunity to be trained as world-class exponents in early music, new music and as outreach workshop leaders.

Early music

Our Historical Performance Faculty runs frequent projects for both modern and period instruments. The RCM Baroque Orchestra performs every term with additional performances at festivals in London and beyond. Singers have the opportunity to perform in Bach Cantatas with the orchestra every year.

Historical Performance musicians on tour in Italy

Follow violist Matyas Csiba as he goes on tour to Italy with members of the Royal College of Music Historical Performance Faculty.

New music

The RCM has long been a fertile creative space for new music. Holst, Vaughan Williams, Elizabeth Maconchy, Anna Meredith, Britten, Hannah Kendall and Mark-Anthony Turnage all started their careers here. Collaborations between composers and performers are encouraged and supported, and student-led groups formed at the RCM, such as the Explorensemble have gone on to take an important role in London’s rich new music scene.

The RCM was the first education institution in the UK to have its own electroacoustic studio. For more than 50 years we have been at the heart of technical innovation in musical performance. We mount regular concerts combining live performance and electronics, and using our new concert facilities to thrilling effect.

Head On!: Works by RCM composers

Hear music from RCM composers who have engaged with the striking artworks produced in this year's Head On Photo Festival Portrait Awards.

RCM Sparks

Our learning and participation programme, RCM Sparks, offers students invaluable experience of working with families and young people. We provide comprehensive training in workshop leadership, which also equips students with the tools to take on diverse roles in their future professional lives.

Workshop leadership with RCM Sparks

Percussionist Kizzy Brooks introduces the exciting training opportunities and enjoyable learning experiences available through RCM Sparks