Our young musicians are notoriously adept at responding to the exacting standards of a great conductor – who, in one case last year, was fitting us in between the Vienna and New York Phils(!).

Witnessing arduous preparation combined with expert guidance towards a concert is an extraordinary privilege. Over the years, we’ve started to develop a recordings and concerts legacy, some of which are on our own label, with our most recent projects on Linn, and Live Concerts on our YouTube Channel.

Over the next few weeks, in five parts, I want to share a few of my favourite performances and part- performances of exceptional musicianship delivered by our students over the last few years. We are blessed at the Academy in having an unrivalled team of Visiting Professors who lead our projects – and you will be re-introduced to many of them over the five playlists. These colleagues are all deeply committed to the Academy and make us a priority in their annual planning.

I’d like to start with our newest Visiting Professor (and often in-residence), Jeroen Berwaerts. Not only is he a superb virtuoso trumpet player (he performed wonderfully at the Proms last year with Hakan Hardenberger) but also a pioneering thinker about how to absorb and present music afresh, and this comes across in his teaching and conducting as well as his own concert work.

Strauss’s ‘Festmusik’ is the composer’s most outstanding brass piece – full of all those epic and lyrical characters and colours you hear in the tone poems and operas – and I sat down in The Duke’s Hall one Friday in October 2019 and was, literally, blown away. It’s about 10 minutes long and you won’t need to dust the room you’re in for a month. Just as striking as the visceral excitement is the beauty of the collective sound, and the ebb and flow of Jeroen’s cultivated direction.

Berwaerts Strauss Festmusik:

Berwaerts Strauss Festmusik:

For an excerpt of Academy work of a slightly different nature, I implore you to listen to the finale of Beethoven’s 8th with Lorenza Borrani. For those of you brought up on Klemperer or Solti, this might be a bit of shock! But it’s part of the beauty of this post-Harnoncourt reading (Borrani is the leader of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, amongst other things) that shock sits rivetingly and dangerously alongside the instantly responsive and dynamic gestures of a lithe and flexible chamber orchestra. It’s also wonderful to view – with all of them standing up! The students still come up to me and talk about that unique week with Lorenza. She makes you realise how important it is to find everything you can in the crevices of the score, and then commit yourself to illuminating the overall vision.

Borrani Beethoven 8 Allegro:

Borrani Beethoven 8 Allegro:

Edward Gardner is one of our most dedicated, energetic and far-sighted alums – and now Sir Charles Mackerras Visiting Professor. His concerts are always warmly anticipated by staff and students and over the weeks, you’ll hear some more of Ed’s work with us. This is a kaleidoscopic account of Gershwin’s old warhorse, not least because the interpretation seemed to find enough space, variety and reflection to balance the high-jinx and showbiz. Apart from pianist Adrian Brendle’s poised reading, the seasoned string sound and exceptional wind solos contributed to a memorable evening. A nice warm up to Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances in the second half, I recall.

Ed Gardner Rhapsody in Blue:

Ed Gardner Rhapsody in Blue: