The Magazine for the Royal College of Music I Spring Now relax! How the RCM is tackling performance anxiety

The Magazine for the Royal College of Music I Spring 2013 Now relax! How the RCM is tackling performance anxiety What s inside... Welcome to upbeat... When you re under the spotlight, it s not always
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The Magazine for the Royal College of Music I Spring 2013 Now relax! How the RCM is tackling performance anxiety What s inside... Welcome to upbeat... When you re under the spotlight, it s not always easy to relax on stage. But developing a stage presence and ability to communicate with an audience is a vital part of training as a musician at the RCM. To help students along, Head of Performance Science Professor Aaron Williamon has led a team of researchers to develop the first performance simulator for musicians. Turn to page 12 to find out how he s using this new technology to help students improve their performance skills. This issue we also say a fond farewell to Peter Hewitt who is leaving us after 22 years as Director of the RCM s Junior Department. Turn to page 10 to read his about his time at the JD, including taking part in the rain-soaked Thames Pageant for the Queen s Jubilee Celebrations. We would also like to take this opportunity to invite you all to witness a thrilling concert. On Tuesday 23 May, the RCM Symphony Orchestra will be performing one of the truly great orchestral works of the 20th century Messiaen s Turangalîla at the Royal Festival Hall. Turn to page 9 for further details. We re always keen to hear from students past and present, so if you have anything you would like us to feature in the next issue of Upbeat, send your news and pictures to by Monday 29 April NB: Please note that we cannot guarantee to include everything we receive and that we reserve the right to edit submissions. Upbeat online Did you know that Upbeat is available to read online at If you d prefer to read it in this way, do contact us at and we ll stop sending you a paper copy. If you d like us to send you an notification when Upbeat is published, let us know your address too. Contents 4 In the news Updating you on recent RCM activities Farewell to Peter Peter Hewitt reminisces over his time as Director of the RCM s Junior Department 12 Simulating and stimulating performance Professor Aaron William tells Upbeat about his latest research into performance anxiety 14 Meeting the supporters Upbeat meets RCM Friend and Patron, Chelsea Pensioner David Poultney 16 Student notes Current student success stories 18 Staff notes News from professorial, academic and administrative staff 20 Alumni notes Updates from RCM graduates 22 Obituaries PERC M performing at St Mary s Church in Beverly Front cover Peter Kirk in the RCM International Opera School s production of Bizet s Le docteur Miracle Inside front cover Variable Geometry ensemble Inside back cover A performance of works by Jonathan Dove and featuring artwork by Anita Klein All photography Chris Christodoulou 3 In the news... Soirée d Or 2012 The RCM s annual fundraising event, Soirée d Or, took place at the V&A Museum on 5 December last year. More than 185,000 was raised, which will be used to provide substantial scholarships to talented RCM students. The evening began with a Taittinger champagne reception in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries with music provided by alumna Charlotte Harding s jazz quartet and a trio of RCM trumpeters, who performed a new work by current student Brandan Musk. A five-course dinner followed in the impressive Raphael Gallery during which guests were entertained by alumnus Sir James Galway and RCM violinist Ksenia Berezina, accompanied by Peter Limnov. With the focus on raising funds for the RCM scholarship appeal Sir Roger Carr delivered an inspiring speech, in which he likened the hard work and dedication of classical musicians to that of Olympic athletes. He also referred to the professionalism and sheer pluck of the RCM Chamber Choir who hit the headlines last year following their stoical performance in torrential rain during the Royal Jubilee River Pageant. A lively auction followed with bidders competing for items that included a performance by Ksenia Berezina at a private event, a luxury break in Morocco, a private dinner at the Dorchester Hotel, and the use of a private box at the Royal Albert Hall to attend one of Alfie Boe s 2013 performances. The evening finally closed with a rousing performance of Jerusalem by the RCM Chamber Choir and audience participation in four popular carols. The RCM is very fortunate to have the support of a hard-working committee led by Lady Carr (chairman), with Lady Middleton, Emma Rose, Fiona Flint, Tanya Rose, Lady Walters, Judy Mowschenson and Anastasia Christou, all of whom work tirelessly throughout the year to secure table sales, sponsorship and exceptional prizes to auction on the evening. The next Soirée d Or will be held on Wednesday 4 December 2013, please contact Mary Cosgrave if you would like to attend. The RCM thanks the following companies and individuals for their generous sponsorship and donations: RLM Finsbury, Boutinot, British Gas, Burberry, Richard and Anastasia Christou, The Dorchester Collection, Green & Black s, Inn or Out, Intern Partnership, Hatch Mansfield, Ketel One Vodka, London Russian Ballet School, Mason Rose, Mihaela Christou Bespoke Jewellery, Hambleton Hall, Nevill Holt, O.P.I, Paul Wayne Gregory, Percy & Reed, QMS Medi Cosmetics, Roja Parfums, Royal Mansour Marrakech, Royal Opera House, Sally Clarke Ltd, St James s Hotel and Club, Steinway & Sons, Steven Morris and Wilberforce Chambers. 4 Double win at Soundtrack_ Cologne 9.0 RCM alumni have scooped two awards at Soundtrack_Cologne 9.0, one of Europe s leading festivals of sound and media. RCM Composition for Screen graduate and now RCM professor Enrica Sciandrone won the Peer Raben Award for the best music for a short film. Her entry, Suckablood, was chosen from an unprecedented 320 nominations. The European Talent Award was awarded to RCM Composition for Screen graduate John Chua from Singapore. This is the second time a graduate of the RCM has won this award, following on from Martin Batchelar s success in Organised by the Cologne Congress for Music and Sound in Film and Media, SoundTrack_Cologne is a German festival of music and sound in film and media, which has developed into one of Europe s most important screen music events. Eighteen students on the RCM Composition for Screen programme attended the festival as part of a group study visit to Germany, sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service. A big thank you In December the Royal College of Music participated in the 2012 Big Give Christmas Challenge to raise funds for our scholarship programme. We re delighted to report that thanks to the great generosity of our donors we have surpassed last year s total, raising a staggering 136,930. Thank you to all those who contributed to The Big Give, which will go towards transforming the lives of talented young musicians. Honens International Piano Competition Lang Lang s story The RCM has appeared in a featurelength documentary about star pianist Lang Lang. Do or Die: Lang Lang s Story, part of the BBC s imagine... series, aired on BBC One in November. The programme explored the personal story behind the Chinese classical music superstar, and included interviews with various influential figures in the musical world. These included RCM Head of Keyboard Professor Piano masterclass with Lang Lang RCM pianist Pavel Kolesnikov has won the highly prestigious First Prize Laureate Award of $100,000 (Can) at the finals of the Honens International Piano Competition in Canada. Although a relatively recent competition, it is known as one of the most prestigious and one of the most searching in terms of the requirements. Pavel was required to produce several recitals and recordings in order to reach the competition final, in which he performed Tchaikovsky s Piano Concerto no 1. In addition to his lucrative money prize, Pavel, who studies with Norma Fisher and is supported by the Russell Gander Award, has also been awarded a threeyear artistic and career development programme. Valued at half a million Canadian dollars, this programme includes worldwide representation for three years and a recording on the Hyperion label. Vanessa Latarche, who commented on Lang Lang s real gift in being able to bring music to the masses, and praised his ability to engage children with classical music. Several scenes in the documentary including the central interview with presenter Alan Yentob were filmed at the RCM, where Lang Lang has been a regular visitor in recent years: he has given two immensely popular masterclasses, received an Honorary Doctorate, and met participants in the RCM s International Piano Course. 5 In the news... Welcoming Professor Alexander Sokolov Kevin Porter, Professor Vanessa Latarche, Professor Colin Lawson, Professor Alexander Sokolov Concert Hall becomes Scoring Stage for a day On 1 November the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall was transformed into a fully functional scoring stage for the largest film-scoring session undertaken at the RCM to date. Composition for Screen student Pierre O Reilly organised the session, pulling together 70 RCM musicians to record We were delighted to welcome Professor Alexander Sokolov, Rector of Moscow Conservatory, to the RCM in October last year. Professor Sokolov gave a talk, visited the RCM Museum and discussed future artistic collaborations with RCM Artistic Director Stephen Johns. He then met with Professor Colin Lawson, Director of the RCM, to sign and re-affirm the memorandum of agreement between the two institutions, which allows for a number of educational and artistic collaborations. Central to this historic partnership is the longstanding close relationship between the keyboard faculties: each year, RCM Head of Keyboard Professor Vanessa Latarche visits Moscow for a series of auditions, discussions and masterclasses. The new memorandum of understanding promises even closer links in the future. music for two short films. The session was a great success and enjoyed by the students, providing excellent training for something they are very likely to encounter in their future careers. The recording was overseen by RCM Studios engineer Steve Harrington, and utilised the RCM Studios live room beneath the concert hall to house the percussion section. Building on the success of this recording, the RCM Studios team hope to be able to run more sessions of this scale in the future. In defence of the recorder! Head of Historical Performance Ashley Solomon has featured on Simon Mayo s popular Radio 2 Drivetime show. Following a phone-in confession from a listener, who disliked the recorder so much that he hid his sister s and children s, Ashley gallantly went on air to defend his instrument. He gave a brief account of the recorder s history, before performing a delightful set of variations on the well-known tune Greensleeves. Student collaborations The RCM Students Association presented the launch concert of the newly formed RCM Students Film Orchestra on 22 January. The concert featured two UK premieres: John Williams original score for Steven Spielberg s War Horse, and Downey Overture by Oscar Navarro, as well as an original score by a Composition for Screen student. 6 Open Orchestra The RCM, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Drake Music (pioneers of assistive music technology) have teamed up with three London boroughs to develop the Open Orchestra project, a new schools music programme bringing together children from special and mainstream schools. This seven-month initiative is in collaboration with the Tri-Borough music hub of Hammersmith & Fulham, Worldwide Connections In September the RCM Studios hosted a unique one-day event that brought together experts from Europe and the USA to demonstrate some of the latest technical developments in remote learning and participation. The highlight of the day was a live link-up that allowed for an astonishing performance of Mozart s Clarinet Concerto by duo partners more than 300 miles apart: pianist Dominic John at the RCM, and clarinettist Ryan Penman at Napier University in Edinburgh. This amazing feat was only made possible by using a system developed at the Trieste Conservatoire, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. Children from two primary schools in each borough (one mainstream and one special school) will be offered an exciting introduction to the orchestral world, and given the opportunity to create new musical material. Working on the theme of flight, the children will use creative music technology to assist the composition process in workshops led by Drake Music associate musicians, BBC Symphony Orchestra musicians and RCM students. The project culminates in a performance of the new work as well as other orchestral repertoire given by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at a schools concert on 22 May. The Open Orchestra project is just one of many initiatives in 2013 being led by RCM Sparks, the RCM s ground-breaking learning and participation programme. which allows musicians to play together over the internet without any appreciable delay. Further contributions came from representatives of the LSO and the BBC, who shared their experience of using web technologies to deliver everything from school music workshops to the Olympics. The Arts and Humanities Streaming Conference was hosted in conjunction with JANET, the organisation which runs the computer networks for universities and colleges. Following the conference the RCM has updated its existing videoconferencing technology to provide enhanced opportunities for students and researchers to collaborate with specialists around the world, without ever leaving the building. RCM paintings available online John Wall Callcott Thanks to a project undertaken in partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC, the paintings from the RCM s Special Collections can now be viewed online for the first time. The collection features more than 120 works, mainly portraits of musicians, dating from the 16th century to the present day. Some are on public display in the RCM Museum, but many are relatively unfamiliar, even to scholars. They include the portraits of Joseph Haydn and Ralph Vaughan Williams; sketches of paintings later destroyed (a 1905 portrait of Elgar) or never finished (an 1890 portrait of Paderewski); and striking portraits of less familiar musicians such as that of the composer John Wall Callcott (pictured). Head of RCM Special Collections Professor Paul Banks commented: The inclusion of the RCM Special Collections in this wonderful and unique national project is an exciting landmark in our efforts to make the rich collections of the RCM more accessible to scholars, students and the general public. All these paintings can be viewed on the Your Paintings website at 7 In the news... Kids take over the RCM Museum On 23 November, the RCM Museum welcomed a group of children, aged 8 10, to participate in the National Museum Takeover Day. Following a tour of the Museum, the children were given the creative task of designing a Visitors Trail pack, full of fun facts and activities, for future young people to enjoy. One participant summed up the day by saying how much she enjoyed: making posters, taking lots of photos and learning about the instruments! You can see the result of their hard work, Music Quest, at the entrance to the RCM Museum. Visitors are welcome to explore the RCM Museum Tuesdays to Fridays, 11.30am 4.30pm. Admission is free. Save the date! Alumni Reunion On Saturday 7 September 2013 there will be a special reunion event for those who attended the RCM between 1965 and The lunchtime event is being organised by RCM Assistant Librarian Angela Escott (née Whelan) and Colin Dowdeswell, and offers an opportunity to reconnect and reminisce with fellow alumni. If you know any former classmates who might be interested, please encourage them to with current contact details. Lark Insurance Scholarship A new scholarship for RCM students has been established thanks to the generosity of Lark Insurance, specialists in made-to-measure musical instrument insurance. The inaugural Lark Insurance Scholar is violinist Joseph Devalle and members of the Lark Group have visited the RCM several times to hear him play, including a performance in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall and a masterclass with Nicola Benedetti. David Foster, Director of Lark Insurance, said: We are delighted to be playing our own role in securing the future of the very best emerging musicians. We look forward very much to supporting Joseph s progress and watching him reach his full potential, as well as helping the wider student body Joseph Devalle in a masterclass with Nicola Benedetti in other ways through exclusive offers and specialist advice. Lark Insurance s generous support is greatly valued and is a leading example of the way businesses can become integral to the success of tomorrow s international artists. Without scholarships, many of our most talented students would not be able to seize the opportunity of studying at the RCM. To find out how your organisation can support a scholarship at the RCM please contact Nicholas Selman at or An invitation Calling all Alumni - join us FREE OF CHARGE for our biggest concert of the year! On Thursday 23 May, the RCM Symphony Orchestra is heading to the Royal Festival Hall to perform Messiaen s epic Turangalîla- Symphonie, one of the great orchestral masterworks of the twentieth century. This very special concert forms part of the Southbank Centre s year-long festival The Rest is Noise. We would love the entire RCM family - past and present - to join us on our big day out, and so we re offering two free tickets to all RCM alumni. To reserve your tickets, call the RCM Box Office on and quote ALUMNI. IMPORTANT: The closing date for this offer is Thursday 16 May. Your tickets will be available to collect from the Southbank Centre Box Office on the evening of the concert. We look forward to seeing you at what promises to be a magnificent event. 7.30pm Thursday 23 May Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre Messiaen - Turangalîla-Symphonie RCM Symphony Orchestra Thierry Fischer conductor Stefan Stroissnig piano Cynthia Millar ondes martenot 9 Farewell to Peter After 22 years as Director of the RCM s Junior Department, Peter Hewitt is leaving for new adventures abroad. He tells Upbeat his most poignant memories How did you come to be Director of the RCM Junior Department? I d been teaching music in schools for a number of years, latterly as a head of department in Hertfordshire. Then this opportunity arose at the College, and for some reason I got it. I d always known of the Junior Department. Edmond Fivet was the Director then, before that it was Barbara Boissard and Michael Gough Matthews (later Director of the RCM), also Marjorie Humby and Angela Bull an illustrious set of forbears! I like to think it was serendipity that landed me here. I came into the Junior Department on several Saturdays before I officially took up the position, just so I could see how it worked, and I remember being absolutely amazed by the quality of the teaching and the focus teachers gave to individual students. I like to think that is still a hallmark of what we do now. How has the Junior Department changed during your time as Director? The number of teaching staff has increased and the quality of teaching is at least as good as it s ever been. The number of students is also buoyant and the overall level of applicant at audition is rising inexorably. We ve introduced new instruments such as Jazz piano and Jazz saxophone and the curriculum has evolved too there is now chamber music for all and a wider range of such ensembles, and choral singing is offered to everyone, something close to my heart. I d say Musicianship classes such as Improvisation, Composition and Practical Musicianship has also really developed over recent years. We give increasingly careful guidance towards career pathways for students now too. I m very proud that our students go off in many different directions. It s our job to
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