For over 20 years, our professional Side-by-Side projects have played a unique and indispensable role in high-level musical training at the Academy.
They effectively function as artistic work-placements, giving students the experience of rehearsing and performing in a completely professional context.
This brings multiple benefits, allowing students to exercise their musical skills in an environment that mirrors the industry, to gain a greater understanding of world-class collaborative music making, and learn about professional expectations across many different creative arenas.
At the heart of the Side-by-Side experience is the mentorship provided by professional partners – a key steppingstone from the educational dynamics of one-to-one lessons and internal opportunities to the autonomous responsibilities that go with membership of prestigious ensembles.
'Played with edge-of-the-seat electric energy by the Sinfonietta and Royal Academy of Music Manson Ensemble.'
The Telegraph - Side-by-Side: A Harrison Birtwistle Tribute
The projects enable our students to develop their professional networks and therefore make a significant contribution towards their long-term employability. See details of Side by Side partnerships below.
One of the greatest orchestras in the world, the London Philharmonic Orchestra is Resident Orchestra at the Southbank Centre’s Festival Hall. Our Side-by-Side projects with the orchestra at this venue also feature young musicians on the Foyle Future Firsts Programme, which is designed to bridge the transition between education and the professional platform for outstanding early-career orchestral musicians.
Based in Prague, the Czech Philharmonic is ranked among the best in the world. Its Chief Conductor and Music Director, Semyon Bychkov is the Academy’s Sir Charles Mackerras Chair. In addition to participation by our students in orchestral performances, Czech Philharmonic principal players lead masterclasses and chamber music projects during several annual residencies at the Academy.
The London Sinfonietta was the Academy’s first Side by Side partner, a relationship dating back to 2002. They are one of the world’s finest contemporary music ensembles, with a reputation built on cutting-edge programming and virtuosic performances for over 50 years. Two decades of projects include the UK premieres of Grisey’s Espace Nono’s Prometeo, Vivier’s Lonely Child, Stockhausen’s iconic Gruppen and Donnerstag aus Licht, plus several large-scale works by Birtwistle, Berio, György Kurtág, Thomas Adès and others.
The Academy of Ancient Music is an orchestra with a worldwide reputation for excellence in Baroque and Classical music, founded by former professor Christopher Hogwood CBE. Using historically informed techniques, period-specific instruments and original sources, the ensemble brings music vividly to life in committed and vibrant performances. In October 2022, Academy students performing on historical instruments joined the players of the Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Laurence Cummings, for a full-day workshop on Beethoven’s Symphony No 6.
Founded by Ryan Wigglesworth in memory and celebration of Oliver Knussen (1952-2018), former Richard Rodney Bennett Professor of Music at the Academy, the orchestra performs contemporary programmes in London and further afield, in particular annual performances at the Aldeburgh Festival.
Specialising in contemporary music, the Riot Ensemble integrates premieres of new works by Academy students in its innovative programmes, creating a diverse array of projects benefitting both instrumental students and composition students.
A London-based collective of outstanding freelance musicians engaged in new music, CHROMA mentors the next generation of composers and regularly premieres new works by Academy students with Academy instrumentalists sitting alongside the experienced professional musicians of CHROMA.
The Nash Ensemble was founded at the Academy and is Resident Chamber Ensemble at Wigmore Hall, where Academy instrumentalists join them for a performance each year, performing works by eminent contemporary British composers and providing premiere platforms for new pieces by Academy students.
Ensemble in Residence at the Academy, Septura brings together London’s leading players, most of whom are alumni, to redefine brass chamber music through the uniquely expressive sound of the brass septet. Once each year, eight Academy brass players work alongside three members of Septura towards a concert in the Duke’s Hall of new arrangements for brass septet.
Eminent brass quintet Onyx Brass celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary with a Side-by-Side project featuring works by Timothy Jackson and Richard Strauss, and works commissioned especially for the occasion.