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Composition professor Errollyn Wallen

UpdatesSummer 2021

Staff updates

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RCM staff have enjoyed many successes over recent months.

Works by RCM professors Jonathan Cole, Dai Fujikura, Kenneth Hesketh, Jonathan Pitkin and Mark-Anthony Turnage have been included in Oxford University Press’ Vocal Repertoire for the Twenty-First Century, a survey by the late soprano Jane Manning which was published in November.

Clarinet professor Michael Collins performed the Clarinet Sonatina by alumnus composer Joseph Horovitz on 17 May 2021 at Wigmore Hall, where it was premiered in June 1981.

While in Sydney during lockdown last year, Trumpet professor David Elton recorded Andrew Batterham’s new Trumpet Concerto, a virtuosic piece described as ‘Indie-Classical’. The recording was released in February.

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RCMJD Clarinet teacher Jessie Grimes has won an RPS Trailblazer Award for her chamber music show, Jessie's Homemade Garden Jam, which first aired in summer 2020. Described as 'Jools Holland meets Monty Don' and featured on Classic FM, the show combines Jessie's two passions – chamber music and vegetable gardening – and invites guests to play in her garden in a fun and informal setting. Season 2 of the show is underway now, featuring renowned Soprano Ailish Tynan, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra’s Callum Au, Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition prizewinners The Piatti Quartet and more. Full details can be found on www.homemadegardenjam.com.

Trevor Herbert, Professor of Music Research, has been named as the 2021 recipient of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ of the US-based International Trombone Association. As well as having played and recorded with most major London Orchestras and period instrument groups, Trevor’s book The Trombone for Yale University Press is regarded as the seminal work on the instrument.

Dr Maiko Kawabata has been awarded a grant by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council in in recognition of her work on Japanese composer Kikuko Kanai.

Assistant professor of Piano Dinara Klinton released Prokofiev: Complete Piano Sonatas in March, her debut album on the Piano Classics label.

Opera School movement professor Desiree Kongerød has received Arts Council funding to redevelop her magic and variety show Norvil and Josephine, created with Magic Circle magician Christopher Howell. The Edwardian-style act aims to challenge gender stereotypes in an entertaining way. They will be working with writer Susan Earl, director Abigail Dooley and composer Micah Young – follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @norviljosephine for updates.

Simon Lepper, RCM Coordinator of Collaborative Piano, and Professor Natasha Loges, Head of Postgraduate Programmes, received a RPS Enterprise Award in spring 2021 which enabled them to broadcast an online song concert in support of the charity Musicians Without Borders. They brought together an international group of singers and pianists and celebrated the musicians’ national heritages in songs from Mexico to South Korea, in styles ranging from Egyptian folk, to Brazilian fado, to the German Lied. The musicians included emerging artists like Fleur Barron and Fatma Said, and long-established figures like RCM alumna Dame Sarah Connolly and Simon Lepper himself. The film was edited by another RCM alumnus, counter-tenor Jamie Hall, who taught himself editing skills in lockdown in 2020. They hope to develop the project later in 2021, hopefully bringing more beautiful, unknown songs to new listeners.

Simon Lepper was also the official pianist for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in June. He has recently released two albums: The Path of Life, featuring songs by Schubert with Ilker Arcayürek, a Sunday Times recommended release; and Heart and Hereafter: Songs of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, recorded during lockdown with Elizabeth Llewllyn.

Dr Jonathan Pitkin, Academic Professor, presented a project at the international conference for New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), taking place at NYU Shanghai and online in June. He has developed a software emulation of the Magnetic Resonator Piano, an augmented instrument for which he wrote a piece which he presented at an RCM 'Music and Ideas' event in 2017.

On 18 June, RCMJD piano teacher Clara Rodriguez released a new album of the works of Chopin on the Ulysses Arts label. The recording includes the Third Sonata, Barcarolle op 60 and Polonaise-Fantaisie op 61, and is her first album of European Romantic repertoire.

Vocal Studies professor Patricia Rozario has been awarded the Eastern Eye Award for outstanding contribution to the creative industries. The award was presented by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in an online ceremony in February.

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Professor Ashley Solomon, Chair and Head of Historical Performance, together with his ensemble Florilegium, performed a weekend of concerts for a live audience on 22 and 23 May (at 50% capacity) at Wigmore Hall, to celebrate the ensemble’s 30th and the Hall’s 120th anniversaries. This marked their 85th performance at the Hall since their debut. These two programmes featured other RCM Historical Performance profs including Bojan Cicic (violin), Reiko Ichise (viola da gamba), Jane Rogers (viola), Sarah McMahon (cello) and alumni Agata Daraskaite (violin) and Marta Goncalves (flute).

The Art Deco Trio – featuring clarinet professor Peter Sparks and saxophone professor Kyle Horch – released a new album, Gershwinicity, on the SOMM label in April. The recording features new arrangements of Gershwin songs by pianist and arranger Iain Farrington, and has been hailed as a 'winning combination' by BBC Music Magazine.

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The RCM Sparks team has continued to provide online training sessions for students, including presentation and storytelling skills, introductions to music therapy, Makaton sign language and working with people with dementia and special education needs. Students have also taken part in new digital projects, including an online Zoom version of our flagship the Turtle Song project – a weekly singing and song-writing project for people with dementia, in partnership with Turtle Key Arts and English Touring Opera. In another new project, students have worked with presenter Rachel Leach, creating a series of video introductions aimed at young people which explore repertoire from the RCM Stream archive. As the return to face-to-face activity begins, Sparks was also able to give student chamber groups an opportunity to reconnect with audiences in a series of pop-up performances in local primary schools.

New research by Dr Neta Spiro and Michael Schober of The New School demonstrates that classical duo performers can characterise a performance quite differently than their partner does, and that they can disagree with many of their partner’s characterisations of what just happened. Designer Emily Chu developed an accompanying visualisation that explores shared understanding in a performance of Schumann’s Fantasiestücke op 73 no 1.

In June, Violin professor Emily Sun released her debut solo album, Nocturnes, on the ABC Classics/Universal label. The album features music by French masters including Debussy, Franck, Fauré and Lili Boulanger.

Vocal Studies professor Sarah Tynan will be making her Bolshoi Opera debut singing Ginevra in Handel’s Ariodante at the end of July.

Composition professor Errollyn Wallen was honoured by the ISM with the Distinguished Musician Award:

Send your updates for the next edition of Upbeat to news@rcm.ac.uk.