RNCM launches new programme of shows in celebration of its 50th anniversary

The conservatoire will welcome back a number of staff and students from across its history to celebrate 50 years.

By Emma Davidson | 24 May 2023

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Image: RNCM

Founded in 1973, Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) has announced a programme of events to celebrate its monumental 50th anniversary.

Through musical performances, the past, present and future of the innovative conservatoire will be reflected, bringing together internationally recognised RNCM alumni, current students and staff from across the years. 

Appearances will include performances from critically-acclaimed pianist Alexandra Dariescu and a collaboration with the genre-defying energy of Anna Meredith, presented by the RNCM in association with Factory International for Manchester International Festival.

The RNCM Gospel Session Orchestra will perform as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Image: RNCM

The RNCM opened its doors for the very first time on 28 June 1973 through a merger of the Royal Manchester College of Music – that was founded by Sir Charles Hallé – and Northern School of Music. With a bold ambition for the future of music and music education in Manchester, the RNCM has brought together incredible musicians from across the globe and trained the next generation.

Kicking off on Thursday 22 June, the RNCM String Orchestra and RNCM Chamber Choir will commision three new pieces from alumni Shruthi Rajasekar, a composer and singer whose passion is the intersection of musical and cultural identity. Embedded in between more familiar works, Rajasekari’s pieces seamlessly link musical traditions from the US, India and Manchester and in themselves are a nod to the College’s global identity. 

The RNCM Symphony Orchestra will also perform across the evening. Comprising special guest alumni including conductor, Alpesh Chauhan OBE who is principal guest conductor for Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, he will be joined by associate conductor for BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and music director for Birmingham Opera Company, soprano Soraya Mafi. Completing the noteworthy line-up is pianist Alexandra Dariescu whose performances include London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Nemtsov holds an International Artist Diploma at the RNCM. Image: RNCM

Closing the show is the RNCM Session Orchestra who are transporting audiences back to 1970. The performance will take guests on a journey through era defining tracks from greats including Billy Joel, Dolly Parton and Stevie Wonder in the venue’s concert hall and theatre – a reminder of the diverse spaces RNCM is home to. 

On Wednesday 28 June, the music school welcomes The Orchestra of Opera North for a spectacular Opera Gala. Conducted by alumnus Garry Walker, the evening also sees the welcome return of several vocal alumni who have carved out incredible careers on the operatic stage. Following this, on Thursday 29 June, the celebrations continue with a performance by RNCM Wind Orchestra with Mikhail Nemtsov (cello) as a further expression of the vast range of the College’s musical breadth.

Professor Linda Merrick, Principal, said: “We are drawing close to the culmination of what has been an incredible year for the RNCM. Proud of our place in Manchester and on the global stage, we are very much at the forefront of music education worldwide and this special anniversary has really given us an opportunity to showcase the breadth of what we do here. 

Anna Meredith’s performance comes as part of MIF23. Image: MIF

“There is still a lot to look forward to over the coming weeks including several special events that bring staff, students, alumni and our professional partners together. I am really looking forward to celebrating with everyone and to sharing the stage with our incredibly talented musicians.”

Closing off the conservatoire’s birthday celebrations is an exciting collaboration with this year’s Manchester International Festival. Taking place on Saturday 8 July, the RNCM Festival Orchestra will support composer Anna Meredith in a greatly-anticipated performance of her Mercury Prize-shortlisted album FIBS conducted by Robert Ames. 

The venue will be Manchester’s historic Depot Mayfield, an atmospheric building that’s perfect for this merge of contemporary classical, art pop, techno and experimental rock.