The Royal College of Music hosts a special Organ Festival on Sunday 25 February to celebrate its stunning new organ. World-renowned organ builders Flentrop Orgelbouw are in attendance to provide fascinating insights into the design and build of the instrument. Works by revered RCM alumni Vaughan Williams, Parry and Stanford are performed alongside new works by RCM composers, and the festival closes with a recital by distinguished organist Thomas Trotter. On Tuesday 6 February celebrated Dutch organist Ton Koopman visits the College to lead a unique masterclass. The RCM organ is in recognition of James Zheng Huang HonRCM.
Bernard Haitink returns to the RCM on 1 and 2 February to conduct Richard Strauss’ magnificent tone poem An Alpine Symphony, with a notable part for the new organ. BBC Young Musician and RCM Concerto Competition winner Martin James Bartlett also takes to the stage to perform Mozart’s beautiful Piano Concerto No. 24, the manuscript of which is in the RCM collections.
Igor Stravinsky is celebrated in partnership with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for its Changing Faces: Stravinsky’s Journey series. Martyn Brabbins conducts RCM musicians and visiting singers from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory in performances of Renard and Mavra on Tuesday 27 February. The RCM Chamber Choir and Ensemble perform Stravinsky’s radical score Les noces at the Royal Festival Hall with Vasily Petrenko on Friday 23 February.
This season’s opera is Britten’s enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Liam Steel with performances from Monday 5 to Saturday 10 March. Based on Shakespeare’s play, this much-loved opera has enchanted audiences since its first performance over 50 years ago. Britten brings the story to life with brilliantly distinctive orchestration, from the ethereal woodland scenes to the antics of the Rustics.
The RCM celebrates International Women’s Day on Thursday 8 March with a special concert featuring performances of works by groundbreaking female composers Pauline Viardot, Clara Schumann, Lili and Nadia Coulanger and Judith Weir, interspersed with poetry and prose by Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath.
On Sunday 11 March the keyboard is celebrated with the RCM’s annual Keyboard Festival, which this year marks the centenary of Debussy’s death. His two books of Préludes are performed in full alongside works by Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Fauré, Ravel and Vierne, all composed during the final years of the Belle Époque period (1909-13).
Some of today’s greatest artists are welcomed to the Royal College of Music this season. The RCM’s Quartet in Residence, Harlem Quartet, returns on Tuesday 16 January with vibrant music from around the world including Gabriela Lena Frank’s Milagros, Debussy’s colourful String Quartet in G minor and ragtime melodies by William Bolcom. The Harlem Quartet Residency is generously supported by Victoria, Lady Robey OBE and the Freakley Family.
Masterclasses are given this season by the RCM’s Polonsky Visiting Professor of Violin Maxim Vengerov, American tenor Michael Fabiano, distinguished cellist Natalie Clein, virtuoso trumpeter Matthias Höfs and many other internationally renowned musicians.
Author and journalist Dr Simon Heffer marks the centenary of the death of former RCM Director Sir Hubert Parry in the annual Crees Lecture on Tuesday 6 February. A stimulating series of spring talks include insight into artistic programming from David Pickard, Director of the BBC Proms on Thursday 11 January.