The Royal College of Music (RCM) marks 200 years since the publication of iconic gothic novel Frankenstein – The Modern Prometheus with five brand new mini-operas produced by RCM composers in association with Tête à Tête. Based on the themes of monstrosity and scientific idealism that permeate Mary Shelley’s literary masterpiece, each opera makes a lasting impression in just 15 minutes. They are performed by RCM singers on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 May.
On a similarly ambitious scale is this year’s RCM Festival of Percussion, an all-day extravaganza on Sunday 6 May featuring one of the world’s leading drummers, Mark Guiliana. Admired across the spectrum from jazz to rock to electronic music, Guiliana has appeared on many acclaimed recordings including David Bowie’s Blackstar. The Festival features appearances from top musicians: West End percussionists Damien Manning and James Powell, players from The Royal Opera House, the Coldstream Guards, O Duo and Ensemble Bash amongst many others.
There is more opera with a double-bill of two acclaimed modern British works: Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse and RCM alumnus Huw Watkins’ one act opera In the Locked Room, a fantastical story based on a work by Thomas Hardy. Renowned theatre director Stephen Unwin joins conductor Michael Rosewell for these two thrilling and mysterious productions, taking the audience from a remote Scottish Isle on a windy and rain-lashed night to the dramatic inner workings of the human mind on Wednesday 27 and Friday 29 June, and Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 July.
This season’s Orchestral Masterworks series includes a performance of Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello by RCM Concerto Competition winners Yume Fujise and Jamal Aliyev. They perform under the baton of Martin André on Thursday 3 May. Howard Williams leads the RCM Symphony Orchestra in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite on Tuesday 26 June. The string-based activity continues on Sunday 13 May with the RCM’s annual Super String Sunday, which sees the RCM’s young stars contrasting sublime tunes by JS Bach with formidable works by Belgian violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe. On Thursday 28 June, Polonsky Visiting Professor of Violin Maxim Vengerov returns to lead an orchestral masterclass on Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Vengerov tops an impressive list of world-renowned musicians giving masterclasses at the RCM this season that includes virtuoso violinist Vasco Vassilev and celebrated harpist Marisa Robles.
Royal College of Music musicians perform this season in some of London’s most prestigious musical venues. Premiere performer Pinchas Zukerman gives an unmissable workshop with RCM performers at Cadogan Hall on Wednesday 27 June. At Wigmore Hall on Sunday 1 July the RCM Junior Department (RCMJD) present their Young Artists Concert, and later the same day the talented players of the Strings Faculty present the RCM String Showcase. On Friday 11 May RCM musicians and professors feature in three events at a festival devoted to Ligeti at Southbank Centre.