SIDE-BY-SIDE projects at the Academy allow our students to exercise their musical skills in an environment that mirrors the profession, helping them to gain a greater understanding of world-class, collaborative music making. At the heart of the SIDE-BY-SIDE experience is the mentorship provided by professional partners, and over the last few weeks we have collaborated with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Riot Ensemble.

At the beginning of February, Academy students took part in a project with our longstanding SIDE-BY-SIDE partner, the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Alongside members of the orchestra and musicians from its Foyle Future Firsts Programme, our students prepared for a concert at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall conducted by Academy alum and Charles Mackerras Chair of Conducting, Edward Gardner. The performance featured works by Stravinsky and Tippett and music inspired by trees, including Tania León’s Ácana and Mabel Daniels’ Deep Forest.

Later in the month, another group of Academy students travelled to Prague for a week long SIDE-BY-SIDE project with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, as part of the ongoing educational partnership between the Academy and the orchestra initiated by Semyon Bychkov, the Academy's Klemperer Chair of Conducting, in 2019. Musicians from our Strings, Brass, Percussion and Woodwind Departments were embedded into the orchestra for rehearsals across the week, led by Honorary Academy Member Jakub Hrůša. They then went on to play in three orchestral concerts at the Rudolfinum, performing works by Ondřej Kukal, Mahler and Honegger. Furthermore, six of our students were selected to work with a violinist from the Czech Philharmonic Academy on Beethoven's Septet in E flat, which they performed in a matinee concert for partners and supporters of the orchestra.

I've been conducting Royal Academy of Music students for over 15 years, and it gives me tremendous pleasure that the relationship is now shared with the Czech Philharmonic. I am constantly struck by the values of learning, curiosity, energy, and support, that the two institutions have in common, and how the students and the professors are united in their desire to discover and rediscover music.

Semyon Bychkov

This year we continue to work with our Ensemble in Residence, Riot Ensemble, on a variety of contemporary music SIDE-BY-SIDE projects. Our first concert of 2024 with the ensemble took place in the Duke's Hall on Friday 16 February, where three brand-new works by composition students were performed under the direction of Argentinian-Spanish composer Fabián Panisello. We recently announced a new and exclusive contemporary music programme with Riot Ensemble which will provide further SIDE-BY-SIDE opportunities for our students – read more here.

SIDE-BY-SIDE projects are embedded at all stages of musical training at the Academy. Both last term and this term, musicians from our Junior Academy course were given the opportunity to rehearse with members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, many of whom are Academy alumni, in sessions led by Academy conducting lecturers Alex Walker and Dominic Grier. This month, students aged 12-16 have worked on Rachmaninov's Symphony No 1, while students aged 17-18 have focussed on Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. On Saturday 9 March and Saturday 16 March, students and RPO musicians will perform these works at concerts in the Duke's Hall.

To round-off this term's series of SIDE-BY-SIDE projects, we look forward to our students' yearly concert at Wigmore Hall on Tuesday 26 March with the Nash Ensemble, where they will perform a programme of works by Harrison Birtwistle and Academy composition students. Book tickets here.

Image 1: Academy students in concert with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall

Image 2: Jakub Hrůša conducting the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Academy students © Petr Kadlec