Sue Pudifoot-Stephens

Sue Pudifoot-Stephens

Sue is a Friend of the RCM.  

Tell us about your own studies at the RCM

I was here from 1960 to 1963, and studied piano and cello. Everything was Vaughan Williams at that time because he had died just two years before, and so the atmosphere was saturated with his music.

Towards the end of the first year I realised that the guy having his lesson immediately before me was really going to be stratospheric. His name was John Lill…

The whole place felt amazingly comfortable, and had a very nice feel about it. I had Angus Morrison as my piano professor and he was a really lovely guy. It was an extremely happy time of my life, and I suppose that’s why I’m back here now.

Did you keep in touch straight after graduation?

No I didn’t, because I was so excited about getting on, and going out in the world. I moved away to work first as a teacher and then as a journalist.

It was only after I moved back to Londonthat I thought “what’s the RCM up to?”, and I saw that there was a concert with the Khachaturian Violin Concerto. That caught my eye because I first heard that concerto being rehearsed here at the RCM by David Oistrakh, and 40 years later – there it was again! It was being played by a young Russian violinist, and this seemed almost serendipitous. So I came, and it was as every bit as exciting as I’d remembered in live performance.

What were your impressions coming back?

First that the orchestra and the musicians were wonderful (in fact I thought the general standard had gone up), second that the atmosphere seemed almost the same, and third that the concert hall hadn’t changed – I’m sure it was the same decorations! And I thought “golly, this is so comfortable”. I felt as if I’d come home.

How did you become a RCM Friend?

Well I came to some more concerts, and I was idly flipping through the programme and I just thought: I’ve got to become a Friend, it’s so important to give something the College. So I did, and now I come to virtually all the Friends events. My only regret about moving to Surrey is that I can’t come to everything!

You're well-known here at the RCM for bringing friends to concerts…

Yes, I’ve done my evangelising bit! I was enjoying coming here so much that I thought: I’ve got to introduce my friends to this; they would love what’s going on here. So I started bringing more and more of them along to concerts. In fact there were about 20 of us at the Friends’ Summer Party.

What do they make of the RCM?

They’re all converted! They like the atmosphere, and they are stunned by the standard of the young performers. They love the fact that the performances have got that wonderful enthusiasm, and that sense of taking a fresh look at something, which is thrilling. With professional concerts you get maturity, but you sometimes get a certain jadedness. Not here. It’s particularly fascinating to see the established conductors like Haitink work with the young players of the orchestra, and to see how the two interact.

Are you in touch with any fellow RCM students?

I’m only in touch with one other person from my time as a student, and she lives in the USA. I’m sure that next time she’s over in London I’ll grab her by her pigtails and bring her in!

What appeals to you most about the Friends scheme?

You know, I never even realised that we get benefits like advanced booking. The reason I’m a Friend is just because I think that what you have here is terrific, and I want to support it however I can. That’s why I’ve also chosen to remember the RCM in my will.

I think that music of this quality is one of the most wonderful things you can experience. If you come to like it, it can become the most absorbing love affair of your life. It disturbs you, soothes you, consoles you, enlivens you, generally enriches your life, and I think the more people that can be introduced to it, the better.

It isn’t an elitist thing. People come from all cultures, from all walks of life, from all over the world, and this place is a fine example of that. The exchanges that the RCM has with other countries are enormously important, and it’s wonderful to see young people come from all over the world to make music together.

People like that, who are immensely talented, who are going to give something to the world, deserve our support. 


  • Twitter Logo
  • Facebook Logo
  • Instagram Logo
  • LinkedIn Logo
Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS. Tel: +44(0)20 7591 4300 Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS.
Tel: +44(0)20 7591 4300
  • Twitter Logo
  • Facebook Logo
  • Instagram Logo
  • LinkedIn Logo