Immerse yourself in our friendly, collaborative environment and benefit from regular coaching from leading conductors

The Academy’s postgraduate Conducting degree is one of the most respected in the world.

'It was without doubt thanks to the top-of-the-line education I received that I was able to dip straight into intense professional work as Assistant Conductor of the Hallé'
Jonathon Heyward, alumnus

By focusing on a small, high-quality intake, we are able to offer students many opportunities to rehearse and perform in different settings, from two-piano workshops and intimate chamber ensembles to full symphony orchestra.

The course begins with technical and rehearsal skills, followed by opportunities to integrate your work into other departments, including early music performance, opera, contemporary music, and education and outreach.

We offer a two-year course of principal-study conducting at postgraduate level leading to an MA or MMus. It is also possible to take a one-year Professional Diploma aimed at professional musicians who want to move from their own specialism into conducting.

At undergraduate level, you can study conducting as a second subject, starting with introductory classes, which you can continue as an intermediate or advanced elective.

The Academy's flag on the front of the building

Introduction to the Conducting Department with Sian Edwards

Photo of conductor Susanna Malkki
Photo of conductor Susanna Malkki

Susanna Mälkki

Photo of conductor Susanna Malkki

Susanna Mälkki

Graduated 1994
Conducting

Susanna Mälkki

Graduated 1994

Conducting

‘Unmatched for podium presence’ (New York Classical Review) and with an ‘ability to create viscerally arresting performances’ (LA Times), Susanna Mälkki is one of today’s most sought-after conductors in the world.

Mälkki continues to guest-conduct at the very highest level, with recent appearances including return visits to the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras, and the Münchner Philharmoniker and Orchestre national de Lyon.

This is Mälkki’s fourth season as Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, with plans including premieres by leading national composers Kaija Saariaho and Lotta Wennäkoski and a new work by Felipe Lara. As part of her third season as Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mälkki paid tribute to the late Oliver Knussen with his Violin Concerto. She was previously Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

A renowned opera conductor, Mälkki was to make her debut at the postponed 2020 Festival d’Aix en Provence, conducting the world premiere of Saariaho’s new opera, Innocence, having returned to the Opéra national de Paris to conduct Philippe Boesmans’ Yvonne, princesse de Bourgogne. In 2018, she debuted at the Wiener Staatsoper in Gottfried von Einem’s Dantons Tod; December 2016 marked her debut at The Metropolitan Opera for its premiere of Saariaho’s L’amour de loin.

A former student of the Sibelius Academy, Mälkki studied with Jorma Panula and Leif Segerstam. In June 2010, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and is also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Other awards include the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland, Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, Musical America’s 2017 Conductor of the Year and the Nordic Council Music Prize.

Photo by Simon Fowler

Meet
our alunni

Image of conductor and pianist Sunwook Kim
Image of conductor and pianist Sunwook Kim

Sunwook Kim

Image of conductor and pianist Sunwook Kim

Sunwook Kim

Graduated 2013
Conducting

Sunwook Kim

Graduated 2013

Conducting

Head shot of conductor Sir Simon Rattle
Head shot of conductor Sir Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle

Head shot of conductor Sir Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle

Graduated 1974
Conducting

Sir Simon Rattle

Graduated 1974

Conducting

Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music.

From 1980 to 1998, Sir Simon was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was appointed Music Director in 1990. He moved to Berlin in 2002 and held the positions of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker until he stepped down in 2018. He became Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in September 2017 and spent the 2017-18 season at the helm of both ensembles.

Music education is of supreme importance to Sir Simon and his partnership with the Berliner Philharmoniker broke new ground with their education programme, Zukunft@Bphil, earning him the Jan Amos Comenius Prize, the Schiller Prize from the city of Mannheim, a Golden Camera and a Urania Medal. He and the Berliner Philharmoniker were also appointed International UNICEF Ambassadors in 2007 – the first time this honour has been conferred on an artistic ensemble.

Sir Simon has also been awarded several prestigious personal honours including a knighthood, becoming a member of the Order of Merit and being given the Freedom of the City of London.

Sir Simon has longstanding relationships with the leading orchestras in London, Europe and the USA, initially working closely with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He regularly conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and is also a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Founding Patron of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Photo by Oliver Helbig

Jonathon Heyward

Jonathon Heyward

Graduated 2016
Conducting

Jonathon Heyward

Graduated 2016

Conducting

Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting young conductors on the international scene. Winner of the 2015 Besançon International Conducting Competition, he was selected as a Los Angeles Philharmonic Dudamel Conducting Fellow for the 2017-2018 season, later making his subscription debut with Hilary Hahn as part of the orchestra’s Bernstein @ 100 Celebration at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The LA Times declared that he had ‘forged a seamless connection among the music, the orchestra, and the audience’ and that his ‘concert augurs great things to come’.

Named Chief Conductor Designate of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in 2019, a position that commences in January 2021, Heyward recently completed three years as Assistant Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, conducting his first subscription concert with Benjamin Grosvenor, in 2018. Other notable moments with the ensemble include: a 200th birthday concert for the orchestra’s founder, Sir Charles Hallé, with a programme of Hallé’s own Souvenir and Scherzo, Beethoven’s Leonora No. 3 Overture, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 (with Heejae Kim) and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5; a finalist nomination for Young Creative of the Year at the Manchester Culture Awards 2018, in recognition of his extensive community outreach work and commitment to music education as Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra; and a ‘roaringly bold account’ (Bachtrack) of Shostakovich’s thrilling Leningrad Symphony, marking Jonathon’s debut at the Manchester International Festival and culmination of his tenure in Manchester.

Hailed by Sir Mark Elder as ‘a bright rising star of the conducting world’, Heyward’s recent and forthcoming engagements include debuts with the Seattle Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Oregon Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Brussels Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Hallé, Württembergisches Kammerorchester, Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa in Lisbon, Osaka Symphony, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Flanders Symphony, South Netherlands Philharmonic and the Het Gelders Orkest.

Originally trained as a cellist and chamber musician, Heyward commenced his conducting studies at the Boston Conservatory with Andrew Altenbach. In 2013, he became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition at the age of 21, and, soon after, was appointed Associate Director of the Hampstead Garden Opera Company in London. In 2016, he completed his postgraduate studies in conducting with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music.

Headshot of conductor Valentina Peleggi
Headshot of conductor Valentina Peleggi

Valentina Peleggi

Headshot of conductor Valentina Peleggi

Valentina Peleggi

Graduated 2014
Conducting

Valentina Peleggi

Graduated 2014

Conducting

Valentina Peleggi is Music Director Designate of the Richmond Symphony (Virginia). Described by the BBC Music Magazine as a 'rising star', Peleggi has led orchestras from around the world, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Orchestra of Wales, Norrkoping Symphony (Norway), Orchestra della Toscana and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and will shortly release her first CD on Naxos.

Originally from Florence, Peleggi was the first Italian woman to enter the conducting program at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and more recently was honoured with the title of Associate. Currently a Mackerras Fellow with the English National Opera and Guest Music Director with the Theatro São Pedro in São Paulo, Brazil, Peleggi previously served as Resident Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of their professional symphonic chorus. She won the 2014 Conducting Prize at the Festival International de Inverno Campos do Jordão, received a Bruno Walter Foundation Scholarship at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California, and the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship 2015-2017 under Marin Alsop.

Photo by Bo Lutoslawski

Headshot of conductor Edward Gardner
Headshot of conductor Edward Gardner

Edward Gardner OBE

Headshot of conductor Edward Gardner

Edward Gardner OBE

Graduated 2000
Conducting

Edward Gardner OBE

Graduated 2000

Conducting

Born in 1974, Edward Gardner was educated at Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music. He went on to become Assistant Conductor of The Hallé and Music Director of Glyndebourne on Tour. His many accolades include the Royal Philharmonic Society Conductor Award, Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera and an OBE for services to music.

Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra since October 2015, Gardner has led the orchestra on multiple international tours and at the BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival. Gardner was recently appointed Principal Conductor Designate of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, his tenure commencing in September 2021.

In demand as a guest conductor, Gardner has worked with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker and at the Royal Opera House in a new production of Káťa Kabanová (praised as a ‘magnificent interpretation’ by the Guardian).

Upcoming plans include a revival of Benoît Jacquot’s 2004 production of Werther at the Royal Opera House and La damnation de Faust for The Metropolitan Opera; four concerts for the London Philharmonic Orchestra; and bringing the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra’s acclaimed Peter Grimes to the Royal Festival Hall.

Gardner also continues his longstanding collaborations with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where he was Principal Guest Conductor from 2010-16, and BBC Symphony Orchestra, which he has conducted at both the First and Last Night of the BBC Proms. Music Director of English National Opera for 10 years (2006-15), Gardner also has an ongoing relationship with New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

A passionate supporter of young talent, Gardner founded the Hallé Youth Orchestra in 2002 and regularly conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He has a close relationship with the Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music, which appointed him their inaugural Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Chair in 2014.

Photo by Benjamin Ealovega

Find out more about the career paths of some of our former students

Meet our alumni
Photo of conductor Susanna Malkki
Photo of conductor Susanna Malkki

Susanna Mälkki

Photo of conductor Susanna Malkki

Susanna Mälkki

Graduated 1994
Conducting

Susanna Mälkki

Graduated 1994

Conducting

‘Unmatched for podium presence’ (New York Classical Review) and with an ‘ability to create viscerally arresting performances’ (LA Times), Susanna Mälkki is one of today’s most sought-after conductors in the world.

Mälkki continues to guest-conduct at the very highest level, with recent appearances including return visits to the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras, and the Münchner Philharmoniker and Orchestre national de Lyon.

This is Mälkki’s fourth season as Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, with plans including premieres by leading national composers Kaija Saariaho and Lotta Wennäkoski and a new work by Felipe Lara. As part of her third season as Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mälkki paid tribute to the late Oliver Knussen with his Violin Concerto. She was previously Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain.

A renowned opera conductor, Mälkki was to make her debut at the postponed 2020 Festival d’Aix en Provence, conducting the world premiere of Saariaho’s new opera, Innocence, having returned to the Opéra national de Paris to conduct Philippe Boesmans’ Yvonne, princesse de Bourgogne. In 2018, she debuted at the Wiener Staatsoper in Gottfried von Einem’s Dantons Tod; December 2016 marked her debut at The Metropolitan Opera for its premiere of Saariaho’s L’amour de loin.

A former student of the Sibelius Academy, Mälkki studied with Jorma Panula and Leif Segerstam. In June 2010, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and is also a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Other awards include the Pro Finlandia Medal of the Order of the Lion of Finland, Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, Musical America’s 2017 Conductor of the Year and the Nordic Council Music Prize.

Photo by Simon Fowler

Image of conductor and pianist Sunwook Kim
Image of conductor and pianist Sunwook Kim

Sunwook Kim

Image of conductor and pianist Sunwook Kim

Sunwook Kim

Graduated 2013
Conducting

Sunwook Kim

Graduated 2013

Conducting

Head shot of conductor Sir Simon Rattle
Head shot of conductor Sir Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle

Head shot of conductor Sir Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle

Graduated 1974
Conducting

Sir Simon Rattle

Graduated 1974

Conducting

Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music.

From 1980 to 1998, Sir Simon was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and was appointed Music Director in 1990. He moved to Berlin in 2002 and held the positions of Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker until he stepped down in 2018. He became Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra in September 2017 and spent the 2017-18 season at the helm of both ensembles.

Music education is of supreme importance to Sir Simon and his partnership with the Berliner Philharmoniker broke new ground with their education programme, Zukunft@Bphil, earning him the Jan Amos Comenius Prize, the Schiller Prize from the city of Mannheim, a Golden Camera and a Urania Medal. He and the Berliner Philharmoniker were also appointed International UNICEF Ambassadors in 2007 – the first time this honour has been conferred on an artistic ensemble.

Sir Simon has also been awarded several prestigious personal honours including a knighthood, becoming a member of the Order of Merit and being given the Freedom of the City of London.

Sir Simon has longstanding relationships with the leading orchestras in London, Europe and the USA, initially working closely with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He regularly conducts the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and is also a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Founding Patron of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Photo by Oliver Helbig

Jonathon Heyward

Jonathon Heyward

Graduated 2016
Conducting

Jonathon Heyward

Graduated 2016

Conducting

Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting young conductors on the international scene. Winner of the 2015 Besançon International Conducting Competition, he was selected as a Los Angeles Philharmonic Dudamel Conducting Fellow for the 2017-2018 season, later making his subscription debut with Hilary Hahn as part of the orchestra’s Bernstein @ 100 Celebration at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The LA Times declared that he had ‘forged a seamless connection among the music, the orchestra, and the audience’ and that his ‘concert augurs great things to come’.

Named Chief Conductor Designate of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in 2019, a position that commences in January 2021, Heyward recently completed three years as Assistant Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, conducting his first subscription concert with Benjamin Grosvenor, in 2018. Other notable moments with the ensemble include: a 200th birthday concert for the orchestra’s founder, Sir Charles Hallé, with a programme of Hallé’s own Souvenir and Scherzo, Beethoven’s Leonora No. 3 Overture, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 (with Heejae Kim) and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5; a finalist nomination for Young Creative of the Year at the Manchester Culture Awards 2018, in recognition of his extensive community outreach work and commitment to music education as Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra; and a ‘roaringly bold account’ (Bachtrack) of Shostakovich’s thrilling Leningrad Symphony, marking Jonathon’s debut at the Manchester International Festival and culmination of his tenure in Manchester.

Hailed by Sir Mark Elder as ‘a bright rising star of the conducting world’, Heyward’s recent and forthcoming engagements include debuts with the Seattle Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Oregon Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Brussels Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Hallé, Württembergisches Kammerorchester, Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa in Lisbon, Osaka Symphony, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Flanders Symphony, South Netherlands Philharmonic and the Het Gelders Orkest.

Originally trained as a cellist and chamber musician, Heyward commenced his conducting studies at the Boston Conservatory with Andrew Altenbach. In 2013, he became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition at the age of 21, and, soon after, was appointed Associate Director of the Hampstead Garden Opera Company in London. In 2016, he completed his postgraduate studies in conducting with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music.

Headshot of conductor Valentina Peleggi
Headshot of conductor Valentina Peleggi

Valentina Peleggi

Headshot of conductor Valentina Peleggi

Valentina Peleggi

Graduated 2014
Conducting

Valentina Peleggi

Graduated 2014

Conducting

Valentina Peleggi is Music Director Designate of the Richmond Symphony (Virginia). Described by the BBC Music Magazine as a 'rising star', Peleggi has led orchestras from around the world, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Orchestra of Wales, Norrkoping Symphony (Norway), Orchestra della Toscana and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and will shortly release her first CD on Naxos.

Originally from Florence, Peleggi was the first Italian woman to enter the conducting program at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and more recently was honoured with the title of Associate. Currently a Mackerras Fellow with the English National Opera and Guest Music Director with the Theatro São Pedro in São Paulo, Brazil, Peleggi previously served as Resident Conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of their professional symphonic chorus. She won the 2014 Conducting Prize at the Festival International de Inverno Campos do Jordão, received a Bruno Walter Foundation Scholarship at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California, and the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship 2015-2017 under Marin Alsop.

Photo by Bo Lutoslawski

Headshot of conductor Edward Gardner
Headshot of conductor Edward Gardner

Edward Gardner OBE

Headshot of conductor Edward Gardner

Edward Gardner OBE

Graduated 2000
Conducting

Edward Gardner OBE

Graduated 2000

Conducting

Born in 1974, Edward Gardner was educated at Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music. He went on to become Assistant Conductor of The Hallé and Music Director of Glyndebourne on Tour. His many accolades include the Royal Philharmonic Society Conductor Award, Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera and an OBE for services to music.

Chief Conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra since October 2015, Gardner has led the orchestra on multiple international tours and at the BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival. Gardner was recently appointed Principal Conductor Designate of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, his tenure commencing in September 2021.

In demand as a guest conductor, Gardner has worked with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker and at the Royal Opera House in a new production of Káťa Kabanová (praised as a ‘magnificent interpretation’ by the Guardian).

Upcoming plans include a revival of Benoît Jacquot’s 2004 production of Werther at the Royal Opera House and La damnation de Faust for The Metropolitan Opera; four concerts for the London Philharmonic Orchestra; and bringing the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra’s acclaimed Peter Grimes to the Royal Festival Hall.

Gardner also continues his longstanding collaborations with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, where he was Principal Guest Conductor from 2010-16, and BBC Symphony Orchestra, which he has conducted at both the First and Last Night of the BBC Proms. Music Director of English National Opera for 10 years (2006-15), Gardner also has an ongoing relationship with New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

A passionate supporter of young talent, Gardner founded the Hallé Youth Orchestra in 2002 and regularly conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He has a close relationship with the Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music, which appointed him their inaugural Sir Charles Mackerras Conducting Chair in 2014.

Photo by Benjamin Ealovega