The Royal College of Music (RCM) has become the first London conservatoire to rename its Masters in Piano Accompaniment to highlight the central role of the pianist in collaborative music making and to give emphasis to the range of skills gained on the course. Students will apply for a ‘Masters in Collaborative Piano’ when applications open this month.
The Royal College of Music has a strong tradition of pianists who have established themselves on the international stage as highly regarded chamber musicians and song pianists. Most notable is RCM alumus Benjamin Britten, who regularly performed in a duo with tenor Peter Pears. Other successful alumni include song pianists Julius Drake and Malcolm Martineau and chamber pianists Katya Apekisheva, Alisdair Beatson and Danny Driver. Celebrated performer Roger Vignoles is currently the RCM’s Prince Consort Professor, a role previously held by Geoffrey Parsons.
Students on the RCM’s robust Masters in Collaborative Piano course receive two years of training, developing a broad knowledge of the instrumental duo, chamber and song repertoire as well as being introduced to the skills needed to become a répetiteur, ballet pianist, continuo player, orchestral pianist or vocal coach.
Recent graduates have enjoyed successes in national and international competitions, including Ian Tindale, winner of the pianist prize at the 2017 Wigmore Hall Kohn Foundation Song Competition, the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Royal Overseas League Music Competition and the Gerald Moore Award. Gamal Khamis received the pianist prize at the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards. RCM alumnus João Araújo recently won the ‘John Newmark’ Best Collaborative Pianist Award at the 2018 Concours musical international de Montréal (CMIM).
Use of the term ‘collaborative’ in relation to piano accompaniment can be traced back to a 1930 scholarly paper by Irish composer and pianist Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty, in which he explained: ‘[this career] will not only furnish one with at least a sufficiency to live on, but which will bring to one’s life the utmost musical pleasure and interest.’
Simon Lepper, Collaborative Piano Co-ordinator at the RCM, explains: ‘The renaming of the Royal College of Music’s piano accompaniment course reflects the evolving role of the collaborative musician, recognising their breadth of skill and acknowledging the diversity of opportunities on offer to those pursuing this rewarding career.’
Applications for the Royal College of Music’s Masters programme open on Friday 20 July 2018. Information on courses and how to apply can be found on the RCM website at www.rcm.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate.