A smiling man in a smart suits sitting at a piano

The Royal College of Music presents four festivals and welcomes distinguished visiting artists in spring 2024

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Sir Antonio Pappano returns to the College to conduct the RCM Symphony Orchestra, and Sir Thomas Allen and Dame Imogen Cooper share their expertise with students in the masterclass series.

A star-studded line up of guest musicians headline the Royal College of Music’s Spring 2024 Season. Sir Antonio Pappano, Chief Conductor Designate of the London Symphony Orchestra, is welcomed back to conduct the RCM Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s epic Symphony no 1 and a rare performance of Richard Strauss’ Duett-Concertino (19 January). The following month, renowned trumpeter and Prince Consort Professor Håkan Hardenberger joins the orchestra for two contemporary trumpet concertos, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Dispelling the Fears and Folke Rabe’s Sardine Sarcophagus, performed alongside a cornerstone of the orchestral repertoire, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (8 February). 

Musicians from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe perform side by side with RCM students in Dvořák’s uplifting and folk inspired Symphony no 8 (7 March), while the RCM Philharmonic is joined by Natalia Luis-Bassa (25 January) and Chloé van Soeterstède (15 February) to conduct the Orchestral Masterworks series, exploring Saint-Saëns’ Symphony no 3 with its majestic organ finale, as well as music by Haydn and world premieres by RCM Composition Competition winners. Elsewhere, Winston Rollins, trombonist in Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, makes his debut with the RCM Jazz Orchestra with music inspired by the big band albums of Bob Florence (18 January).

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Four festivals punctuate the season giving RCM students a chance to shine a spotlight on their specialties. The annual Keyboard Festival uncovers an array of works that deserve rediscovery from music stretching back many centuries to modern hidden gems (17 March), while the Festival of Conducting returns this year, showcasing RCM’s groundbreaking Performance Simulator with opportunities for members of the public to take the podium (18 February). The College is taken over by an inspiring weekend of Chamber Music from stunning string quartets to vibrant percussion ensembles (10 & 11 February), while the bassoon and oboe are celebrated on Double Reed Day with masterclasses, recitals and talks, as well as a reed-making demonstration (21 January). 

The RCM’s masterclass series hosts a distinguished list of visitors including world-renowned opera star Sir Thomas Allen (17 January), internationally acclaimed pianist Dame Imogen Cooper (30 January), principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Sasha Romero (9 February), and three-time Classic BRIT award winning trumpeter Alison Balsom (1 March).

Audiences have the opportunity to hear from the RCM’s Head of Brass Amos Miller (1 February) as part of the Music and Ideas series, and to go behind the lens with RCM photographer Chris Christodoulou, the official photographer for the BBC Proms and many other prestigious events. Chris will be sharing the stories behind the photographs taken of some of the greatest musicians of our time (7 February). 

Finally, the RCM Opera Studio transport audiences to Belle Époque Paris in Franz Lehár’s uplifting operetta The Merry Widow, a roaring success after its premiere in 1905 with the instantly recognisable Vilja Song and Merry Widow Waltz becoming staples of the opera canon (11, 13, 15 & 16 March). 

Booking for the Royal College of Music’s Autumn Season is open now for RCM Friends, and general booking opens on 13 December. Booking for The Merry Widow opens on 31 January (24 January for RCM Friends). Listings and detailed information can be found in the What’s On section of the RCM website. For all the latest updates, follow the RCM on social media on X, Facebook, Instagram, Threads and YouTube.

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