Established in 1983 under the direction of Colin Metters, the Academy’s postgraduate conducting programme is now internationally recognised as one of the foremost programmes in conductor training.
The course provides a comprehensive and integrated programme over two years, examining what lies behind the art and craft of conducting and the role and responsibilities of the conductor, and seeks a better understanding of the complex relationship that exists between conductor and performers. The course is designed to provide a strong technical foundation, studying laws of cause and effect as they relate to conducting, and to develop the ability to be both self-aware and self-critical in all aspects of the conductor’s craft.
Students have the opportunity to work with varied instrumental ensembles on a regular basis as well as in orchestral workshops. Orchestral conducting provision has been significantly enhanced over recent years. Selected students can also conduct concert performances in the Academy’s official orchestral programme as and when appropriate.
Regular classes are held throughout the term. Additional masterclasses are given by visiting guest conductors, who have included the late Sir Colin Davis, Ilya Musin (St Petersburg Conservatoire), Jorma Panula (Sibelius Academy, Helsinki), Claus Peter Flor, Yuri Simonov, Lutz Köhler (Berlin), Sir Roger Norrington, the late Sir Charles Mackerras, Leonard Slatkin, Kenneth Kiesler (Michigan), Carl Topilow (Cleveland), Gunter Kahlert (Weimar) and Thomas Baldner (Indiana).
Repertoire over the course is broad-based, the mainstream orchestral and concerto repertoire forming the central core of the curriculum.
The course maintains a strong link with the Composition and Contemporary Music Department and the Manson Ensemble, working on established twentieth-century repertoire and on premieres of student compositions, the conductors working in direct collaboration with the composers. Students also work with Royal Academy Opera and the Vocal Faculty on various projects and workshops throughout the year, and have the opportunity to work with the Academy’s instrumental ensembles and orchestras.
Additional studies, including aural classes, keyboard skills, transposition and score-reading, take place regularly throughout the course.
“The most prestigious schools [for conducting] are Sibelius Academy and the Royal Academy of Music” Wall Street Journal, February 2010