RCM String Quartet Fellowship

RCM String Quartet Fellows 2022-23 Alkyona Quartet
This one-year fellowship provides high-level artists with a creative environment in which to grow, explore and interact with others. The successful quartet will receive ensemble coaching and mentoring, a significant performance profile and access to an established global network of professional contacts.

The RCM String Quartet Fellowship enables holders to gain experience, confidence and connections that will help to establish a professional profile as well as developing musical understanding and artistic individuality. It grants a flourishing string quartet the space and time to delve into the extensive repertoire and to examine the ever-changing dynamic of playing and performing in a small chamber ensemble. Holders of this award are considered members of the wider team of fellows and will be expected to participate fully in RCM life.

The RCM String Quartet Fellowship has been created following generous support from the late Albert Frost.

Mendelssohn Octet

Two award-winning quartets from the Royal College of Music combine to perform Mendelssohn's dazzling Octet in E flat major op 20

2024-25 Application Update

RCM String Quartet Fellowship applications for 2024-25 has now passed. Applications will reopen for 2025/26 Fellowships in Autumn 2024.

All fellows are expected to develop musical and communication skills by undertaking further intensive study, working with students internally and doing all they can to raise the profile of the RCM externally. They play a full and active part in the musical life of the RCM as well as functioning as RCM ambassadors. They have full use of the RCM Library with its wealth of material and work in close contact with the Creative Careers Centre, the RCM’s centre for professional skills and publicity services.

Current RCM String Quartet Fellows

Alkyona Quartet
(Emma Purslow, Marike Kruup, Claire Newton, Jobine Siekman)

The Alkyona Quartet present fresh, imaginative interpretations of both well-known and hidden gems of the string quartet repertoire. They are well known for their warm connection to audiences and vivacious performances, and are ‘as vibrant and memorable as their ‘Kingfisher’ namesake’. They were Tunnell Trust Award Holders 20/21 and Making Music Selected Artists 21/22, and look forward to being the Royal College of Music String Quartet Fellows 2022/23.

They have performed in many leading UK venues including St Martin in the Fields, St John Smith Square and the Royal Albert Hall, as well as at many music societies both at home and abroad. They were New Generation Artists at the Stift International Music Festival 2019 and residents at Music at Brel the same year, as well as being featured at the Huygens Festival 2020 & 2021 which were broadcasted live on Dutch TV channel Midvliet. They look forward to a variety of engagements in the 2022/2023 season, including the Lichfield Festival, a creative concert series at the Sir John Soane Museum and launching the Huygens Festival 2022.

The quartet love collaborations across the arts and this year hold a residency at Leighton House Museum, where they have been running events, concerts and salons both online and in person. They released their debut album, 'Intimate Letters’ in June 2020 in collaboration with Cegin Productions. As a quartet they especially enjoy cross-collaborative projects, and have worked closely with Latin American band Quimantu, film makers, Tabla player Kuljit Bhamra MBE, actress Saskia Reeves, percussionist Adriano Adewale, composer Caroline Heslop and dance company the Dutch Don’t Dance Division. The quartet have studied with Richard Lester, Marc Danel, Ben Hancox, Rafael Todes, Catherine Manson and James Boyd. The quartet is mentored by Marc Danel of the Danel Quartet in Holland as part of the National String Quartet Academy, and took part in the European Chamber Music Academy 2020.

Outreach is an important part of their work and they are one of the ‘Young Professional’ quartets of Project String Quartet UK. Equally at home in education settings, the quartet have given masterclasses and side by side performances at numerous schools including Repton School, St Pauls Boy’s School and Ipswich School, where they led the string section of the Festival of Music two years running.

The quartet is grateful for sponsorship for their studies and projects to the RCM Director’s Fund; The Tunnell Trust; the Dutch National Music Instrument Foundation for the loan of Jobine’s C.18th Lefebvre cello and the Harrison-Frank Foundation for the loan of Emma’s 1713 Venetian violin.


The RCM String Quartet Fellows receive ensemble coaching and mentoring with RCM professors.  They will also have a significant performance profile and opportunities alongside membership of the RCM’s global musical community.


Applicants should already have successfully completed formal studies at a level equivalent to a postgraduate diploma or degree or be completing these studies in the academic year in which the application is made. Applications will be considered from those with equivalent experience.

Applications are invited from existing string quartets that are:

  • Performing regularly as an ensemble and have evidence to support this
  • Developing a profile as an established quartet
  • Able to demonstrate potential and a commitment to the continuity and success of the group
  • Prepared to act as ambassadors for the Royal College of Music, not only in the standards it upholds, but also the philosophy and approach to music-making and the desire to reach a wider audience
  • Able to provide a portfolio of publicity material and/or commercially available recorded material
  • Motivated to develop the full potential of the ensemble through the opportunities provided by this fellowship

The RCM String Quartet Fellowship is not awarded with a bursary. Therefore, applicants are required to demonstrate that they are able to support themselves financially throughout the course of the year.

If you are not a UK resident, you must obtain permission to be in the UK from the UK Border Agency in order to hold a fellowship. RCM String Quartet Fellows are not eligible to hold or extend student visas. An option currently available for fellows who are not UK nationals is the Youth Mobility Scheme.

Find out more about the Youth Mobility Scheme

These conditions are set by the UK Government and can change. Please ensure you visit their website for the most up-to-date information.

How to apply

Applications for 2024-25 are now open for the RCM String Quartet Fellowship. The application deadline is Friday 2 February 2024.

Applicants are required to submit a portfolio supported by a letter of application, which should indicate your suitability for the fellowship and your readiness to present yourself as an emerging professional.

Your application should contain:

Applicants from outside the UK should note that they are required to indicate on their application what evidence they can show to prove their right to be in the UK for the duration of the fellowship.

  • Letter of application addressed to the Director, including confirmation of permission to be in the UK and stating clearly that you wish to apply for the RCM String Quartet Fellowship
  • Information about the longevity of the quartet and how long the current members have been in the ensemble
  • Curriculum vitae and biography of c200 words
  • Proposal for a programme of personal study and activities you might initiate or be involved in
  • A budget outline
  • Any current publicity materials, including photographs
  • Any recorded material
  • Please submit your recording by providing a link to a YouTube video

Find out more about portfolio contents

Submitting your portfolio

You should submit your portfolio online using a single combined PDF through the RCM submission portal. The information you upload to the portal does not constitute your entire application, but does form an integral part of it. You should ensure you have provided everything that is required. Incomplete applications may not be considered.

How to submit your portfolio

When using the submission portal you will be asked to create a user name and password, and to provide an email address. You should select 'junior fellow' from the list of programmes and the appropriate principal study instrument. There are no restrictions to the file size or type.

If you experience any problems uploading your portfolio please contact Lizzie Sambrook.

Lizzie Sambrook

Assistant to the Artistic Director and Events & Fellows Coordinator

020 7591 4370


If you are selected for the second stage, you should be prepared to discuss your application in further detail at interview. You are advised to keep a copy of whatever you submit.

Shortlisting and interviews

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an audition and an interview with the Director, the Head of Strings and a member of the Strings Faculty. Interviews will be held in Spring 2024, but the dates are to be confirmed. Please check this page regularly for updates.

Should you be invited to interview, you will be required to bring original documentation (visa, passport or leave to remain in the UK) confirming that you have permission to be in the UK.

You will be required to:

  • Perform a short audition of two contrasting movements (or excerpts thereof)
  • Meet and talk with a panel
  • Discuss the contents of your portfolio and your achievements to date
  • Discuss experience and career plans and suggest ways in which you would like to contribute to the work of the RCM

Results will be conveyed as soon as possible after the interviews have taken place.

Auditions and interviews will be held at the Royal College of Music in London.

Getting to the Royal College of Music

Conditions for successful applicants

As Fellows you will be expected to:

  • Include reference to the award in your CV and in any biographical notes accompanying appearances
  • Produce a short written report on activities undertaken to date by the end of each term
  • Keep trustees and sponsors informed on a regular basis of opportunities to attend performances or events in which you are involved
  • As for all those associated with the College, to adhere to and uphold the College’s values and policies as detailed on our strategies and values pages


The RCM’s internal awards and competition funds are not available to RCM String Quartet Fellows. It is possible to take part in competitions as an accompanist or an ensemble member, but fellows may not receive any prize money, which is only awarded to registered students. This restriction includes concerto competitions as soloist. RCM awards and Access Funds are similarly unavailable.

Fellows are encouraged to support other students, particularly as accompanists, but may not perform as soloists in any of the regular chamber concerts. As part of the terms of the Fellowship, there are various special events, within the RCM and outside, in which Fellows are expected to take part, without additional payment.

Back to top