H

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, these give you as much performance experience as possible. A back catalogue of our previous events is available to browse on  and many of our performances can be viewed on the .

We have several large ensembles in addition to our main orchestras, and composers can hear their work performed by fellow musicians. Solo opportunities are numerous, with concert slots available every week, and students are actively encouraged and supported to form chamber groups to help broaden their repertoire and develop their talent. H 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 Brodsky Quartet, Marmen Quartet and Sacconi Quartet, provide further opportunities to play alongside professional performers.

Rafael Payare conducts Still & Mahler

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

Perform to a global audience 

H 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 H Symphony Orchestra regularly performs at the Southbank Centre, with projects including Messiaen's .

The H enjoys partnerships with several overseas institutions, providing opportunities for students to work on projects abroad. We have taken part in joint projects with the Opéra national de Paris, the Paris Conservatoire, UDK in Berlin, MDW in Austria, ANAM in Melbourne, Australia, Bremen in Germany, and the Salzburg Mozarteum in Austria, amongst many others.

Between them, our percussion ensemble PERC’M and the H Baroque Ensemble have toured the USA, Italy, Switzerland, France and Bolivia, as well as the UK. Exchange schemes also provide opportunities for H students to perform overseas.

A festival atmosphere

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

Our festivals include:

  • Keyboard Festival
  • H Percussion Festival
  • Super String Sunday
  • FestivALL – a day of music by under-represented composers 
  • International Festival of Viols
  • Conducting Festival
  • Double Reed Day
  • Festival of Woodwind & Brass
  • Chamber Festival

In addition, we regularly host a composer in residence of the highest renown. In recent years these have included Steve Reich, Chaya Czernowin and Mark-Anthony Turnage. We also dedicate concert series and workshops to music of particular places, times or themes.

H ensembles

The H 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 H

Opera

The H Opera Studio is recognised worldwide for its high performance standards. We present three fully staged operatic productions a year, along with regular 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 usually double cast to maximise the number of students who can benefit from this vital experience.

Recent performances have included operas by Ravel, Respighi, Humperdinck and Offenbach with directors including Jeremy Sams, Stephen Barlow and Liam Steele, while a performance of Handel’s Rodelinda was made exclusively for film. We also present biennial fully staged productions of mini-operas written by H student composers. Operas are available to view on the , and on including Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro directed by Sir Thomas Allen. 

Find out more about H Opera Studio

Concertos & competitions

The H 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 H Symphony Orchestra; while at the H performances have included Leeds Competition winner Alim Beisembayev playing Ravel’s Piano Concerto, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, Saint-Saëns ‘cello concerto, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, 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.

H recorder player at Royal Academy art and music event

H 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 H, 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, H 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 H 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 H 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 H, such as the Explorensemble have gone on to take an important role in London’s rich new music scene.

The H 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 H composers

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

H Sparks

Our learning and participation programme, H 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 H Sparks

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

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