‘You will be supported as you hone your own individuality and style, and will be involved in all aspects of musical life at the Royal College of Music.’
The Royal College of Music’s two-year postgraduate course in orchestral conducting is designed to support students as they develop their own individual conducting style. From contemporary compositions to large symphony orchestra repertoire, recording sessions to rehearsals and concerts, you will be involved in all aspects of musical life at the RCM.
For undergraduate and postgraduate students, conducting modules are available which introduce the challenges and rewards of conducting as part of their wider study. Conducting is also available as a second study specialism to promising undergraduates and postgraduates. Second study students can enjoy a mixture of individual and class lessons focusing on the skills and knowledge necessary to develop in this field.
One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. Each of our conducting professors brings a different but compatible approach to teaching, drawing on the wealth of experience they have in their own fields.
A detailed programme of technical and repertoire study supported by the conducting professors and regular guest masterclasses complements a wealth of high quality podium time, including public performances with full orchestra, orchestral and sectional preparation for visiting international conductors, individual projects, and regular collaborations with the Composition Faculty.
Conductors at the RCM have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills, gaining an all-round understanding of the artistic, psychological, practical and business issues involved in making a career as an orchestral conductor.
Professional engagement will be a key component of your experience as a conductor at the RCM. Industry professionals periodically meet with our students, providing valuable insights and career advice. In addition, visiting conductors of the highest calibre often work with RCM conducting students on preparing performances of key repertoire.
'The wealth of high-calibre opportunities, supportive and experienced staff, professional and yet welcoming atmosphere are only some of the many reasons why RCM is the place to be!'
‘My first performance conducting the RCM Symphony Orchestra was such a thrill, and recording a student-led orchestral project in Abbey Road Studios was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.’
'Community is extremely important. Our teachers offer advice and insights into the profession of conducting.'
Recent visiting artists
Exceptional international conductors regularly visit the RCM to work with our orchestras and ensembles, will also providing opportunities for the students to act as their assistant conductor, as well as to lead orchestral and sectional preparations.
Students regularly enjoy the opportunity to learn from British conductor Martyn Brabbins, our Prince Consort Professor of Conducting. Other recent visitors, online and in-person, have included:
- Vladimir Ashkenazy
- Jessica Cottis
- Sakari Oramo
- Joana Carneiro
- Nicholas Collon
- Jonathon Heyward
- Vladimir Jurowski
- Holly Mathieson
- Sir Roger Norrington
- Sir Antonio Pappano
- Rafael Payare
- Vasily Petrenko
- Jac van Steen
- John Wilson
- Thomas Zehetmair
Sir Antonio Pappano
The late Bernard Haitink
First-study conducting students regularly rehearse and perform with our in-house ensembles, including the RCM Philharmonic, RCM Symphony Orchestra, and various new music ensembles. They often premiere new works by RCM composers working with the RCM New Perspectives ensemble or as part of our cutting-edge From the Soundhouse series.
All of these public conducting opportunities are an integral part of the RCM’s annual programme of events. In addition, our students have directed RCM orchestras in external venues, including London’s Royal Festival Hall.
Recent student-led projects have included a Conductors' Podium including music by Milhaud, Elgar and Korngold, and a French Baroque project in collaboration with our Vocal & Opera and Historical Performance faculties.
Conducting students engage with a lot of repertoire, covering a broad range of styles, and are strongly encouraged to explore and programme a diverse range of composers. Alongside ongoing collaborations with the composition and composition for screen students, an example of a recent term’s worth of repertoire for a typical student might be:
- Beethoven Symphony no 6
- Boulanger D’un matin de printemps
- Brahms Symphony no 1
- Coleridge-Taylor Overture to Hiawatha
- Debussy Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
- Mozart Cosi fan Tutte (complete)
- Ravel Daphnis and Chloe Suite no 2
- Schumann Symphony no 4
- Shostakovich Symphony no 10
- Stravinsky The Rite of Spring
- Tchaikovsky Symphony no 4
- Wagner Overture to Der Fleigender Holländer
- Walker Lyric for Strings
RCM conducting graduates are working successfully across the music world including:
- Andrew Gourlay as Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica de Castilla y Léon.
- Rui Pinheiro as Principal Conductor of Orquestra Classica do Sul in Portugal.
- Graham Ross as Director of Music and Fellow of Clare College Cambridge and co-founder and Principal Conductor of The Dmitri Ensemble.
- John Wilson as Founder and Director of the John Wilson Orchestra.
- Nicolò Foron as 1st Prize Winner of the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition 2023, Assistant Conductor of l’Ensemble Intercontemporain, Paris.
- Sir Colin Davis
- Sir Charles Groves
- Simon Halsey
- Sir Neville Marriner
- Sir Roger Norrington
- Leopold Stokowski
- John Wilson
The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.
The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mindset and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.
Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.
The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.
Explore our facilities with a video tour of the RCM
Key facilities at the RCM include:
- The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall — our primary performance venue for orchestras and large ensembles
- Our 400-seat Britten Theatre, home to the RCM’s thriving Opera Studio
- A new Performance Hall, offering an alternative space for ensembles, with a retractable stage, Fazioli grand piano and variable acoustics
- Intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance in our Performance Studio and Parry Rooms
- Sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods for private practice
- A purpose-built percussion suite – you can watch a video tour on YouTube
- Over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, as well as organ rooms
- A Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner Model A upright pianos
- Instrument surgeries including luthier services
- RCM Studios: a commercial-grade facility, enabling live broadcasts around the world
- The Digital Innovation Lab: a state-of-the-art recording and mixing suite
- The RCM Library has more than 200,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, as well as access to more than 400 music journals
- The RCM Museum holds more than 14,000 instruments, portraits and images, as well as a climate-controlled performance space and dedicated research facility
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Contact the Conducting Faculty
If you have any general queries about conducting at the RCM please contact the Conducting Faculty Administration team. If you have any queries about auditions or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.
Conducting Administration team
General enquiries about the operation of the team and consultation lessons
Admissions and general audition enquiries
+44 (0)20 7591 4362