The scheme, developed by the Academy and endorsed by Elton John, goes live in September 2022 and will enable students from twelve of the top conservatoires in the world to take part in educational exchanges with the Academy. These will vary in length from one week of intensive project-based work to, in exceptional cases, a full year of study.

Over 200 years, the Academy has a long history of international collaboration, and some of its closest partner conservatoires are among the initial list of organisations taking part in the scheme.

Confirmed exchange institutions include:

  • The Juilliard School (New York),
  • Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris
  • Shanghai Conservatory of Music
  • Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki
  • mdw - University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
  • Hanns Eisler Academy, Berlin
  • The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
  • Sydney Conservatorium of Music
  • University of Music and Performing Arts, Munich
  • Reina Sofía School of Music (Madrid)
  • The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto
  • Tokyo University of the Arts Faculty of Music and Graduate School of Music

The Academy’s Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE, said: ‘In a rapidly changing global landscape, conservatoires must evolve to meet future needs and create fresh opportunities for young artists. Central to this is the free exchange of ideas without regard for international boundaries – which is why we have set up this network from a selection of the finest music schools in the world. All have long been friends of the Royal Academy of Music, and so re-connecting with each of these institutions has been profoundly encouraging. Because each is committed to expanding horizons for our future generation of musicians, the prospect of sharing our work and culture through individual exchanges and projects is thrilling.

‘Elton, himself an Academy alumnus, has provided remarkable assistance to our international student body over the years, and is deeply committed to ensuring that young musicians are able to collaborate, innovate and develop as artists in the broadest environment. We are hugely grateful to him for lending his name to this project and offering support.’

Elton has been the Academy’s most generous alumni donor, in recognition of which he is being made a member of the Regents’ Court of Benefactors, along with his husband David Furnish, at a ceremony in January 2022. The Global Exchange Programme will primarily be supported by new income from an existing fund created by Elton to provide scholarships for exceptionally talented musicians across multiple genres. The scope of the gift has been expanded to meet the growing need for an international educational forum and exchange.

Up to 20 participants a year from the Academy and its partner conservatoires will benefit from short, collaborative projects, a single term, or a full year of tuition at their host institution.

Elton said: ‘My passion is to help nurture the next generation of global artists. Music can and should transcend borders, and I am delighted to be supporting a scheme which offers high-level, tangible opportunities to talented young musicians coming together from many different countries.

‘As the Royal Academy of Music turns 200 in 2022, this programme allows us a fresh chance to open our arms and celebrate our collaborations with international partners, which always bring so many benefits and joys, in projects large and small. I’m delighted to see so many wonderful and world-renowned conservatoires joining us to offer these unique, hands-on, experiences to young musicians.’

Founded in 1822, the Royal Academy of Music has been training musicians from all over the world for nearly 200 years and has always been defined by its global outlook. Many of its very first professors were distinguished musicians from mainland Europe, and there was a focus on internationalism that continues to the present day. Recent collaborations have included a critically acclaimed joint BBC Prom with The Juilliard School in 2019 with whom the Academy has partnered in projects for over 20 years, including five concerts with a joint orchestra at Radio City, New York, with Elton John.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood said: ‘What drives this latest programme is the need for music - indeed all the arts - to break down the kinds of boundaries and barriers which actively work against the open spirit of creative enquiry and collaboration between different countries.

‘I am delighted that the Academy is able to play a part in this and look forward to seeing the benefits the Sir Elton John Global Exchange Programme will bring to young musicians over the next few years.’

Image of Elton John at the Academy © Royal Academy of Music