Orchestras and Ensembles

The Academy’s busy schedule of chamber music, ensembles and orchestras provide a wide variety of opportunities for all Academy students to gain ensemble experience and to perform publicly. We provide training in all aspects of performance, from mock auditions with prominent orchestral musicians to full scale opera productions directed by industry experts.

Alongside frequent internal Competitions and external performance opportunities via our External Bookings Service, the Academy has a regular series of chamber music concerts (Tuesday and Thursday series) which involve students from all areas of study. 

Orchestras

Our range of orchestral projects are all designed to reflect the demands of professional orchestral life. We offer regular projects such as repertoire sessions and workshops as well as numerous full orchestral programmes each term. We have ‘quick-learn’ as well as intensive rehearsal formats. Sectional rehearsals for orchestral projects are led by players from London’s major symphony and chamber orchestras and concerts are conducted by prominent orchestral figures.

So that we can cover a huge breadth of repertoire, the Academy has several orchestras including: 

  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Manson Ensemble (contemporary music)
  • String Orchestra
  • Jazz Big Band
  • Academy Baroque Orchestra and Becket Ensemble (Classical instruments)
  • Symphonic Wind Ensemble
  • Symphonic Brass Ensemble
  • Commercial Music Ensemble
  • Musical Theatre Orchestra
  • Royal Academy Opera Orchestra 

Chamber Music

Performances by chamber ensembles are an essential part of Academy life. In addition to your programme requirements, you may be invited to perform in high-profile Academy concert series, composer festivals and numerous recital series in London and around the UK. Coaching with professional chamber musicians is provided for all concerts and projects. The Academy’s ensemble prizes are greatly coveted and are adjudicated by distinguished visiting chamber musicians. Whatever department you are studying in, you’ll work with experienced coaches on chamber music performance: see the relevant department pages for details. Chamber music is a particularly fundamental component of study for all Strings students.

Royal Academy Opera

Royal Academy Opera stages three full scale productions each year. Pianists and repetiteurs play for rehearsals and performances when required and orchestral students get valuable experience in the particular skills required in the opera pit. There are further opportunities for instrumentalists to get involved in Opera Scenes. 

Contemporary Music

The Academy is particularly active in new music. The Academy Manson Ensemble regularly takes part in side-by-side projects with London Sinfonietta and performs in major festivals around the UK. ‘Mainly New’ projects offer student instrumentalists and composers the opportunity to work intensively with leading living composers. Numerous special projects are also devised each year with choreographers and animators, often leading to major external performances.

Historical Performance

Students gain unrivalled experience in historical ensemble playing as well as many outstanding orchestral opportunities in the Academy Baroque Orchestra leading to performances within the Academy and in venues throughout London. The renowned Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantata series offers an excellent opportunity for current students to work with recent graduates and top period instrument specialists.

Performance for Pianists

We encourage our pianists to perform as much as possible. Whether it’s an informal concert in the Henry Wood Room or a major concerto in Duke’s Hall, we support our pianists both inside and outside the Academy. Performances often include dates at Wigmore Hall, St James’s Piccadilly, The Forge in Camden, Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, Kings Place and St Martin-in-the Fields. We promote a popular series of concerts each term at Steinway Hall, and offer opportunities to play in major festivals throughout the UK.

All pianists can take part in the Academy’s annual Summer Piano Festival in June, where we showcase our students playing a huge array of repertoire in original and imaginative contexts. Our festival includes chamber and solo music, early keyboard performances in the historic Piano Gallery, multimedia and film collaborations, and even contemporary music work with drama and poetry.