Well it’s safe to say, there’s not been another one like it – but what a term it’s been!
Of course, so many things have had to be rethought and reshaped, but at College we love a challenge to our creativity and – as we all know – that RWCMD Show Must Go On. Since the summer we’ve produced seven operas, not to mention socially distanced concerts, a steady stream of masterclasses and, in the Christmas countdown, producing FIVE drama productions.
Sharing the work with our audiences is vital and our new streaming platform means that we can now reach audiences online across the world. Since March we’ve externally streamed 18 live performances, with over 40,000 views – reaching an audience of well over 8,000 this last month. Not to mention starting the term with a new composition bringing together our 24 brand new Steinways…
Here are just some of the many highlights:
AmserJazzTime has gained friends across the globe with regular viewers hailing from Scotland to New York and Moscow and coming together as the #JazzGang. We’re looking forward to sharing more jazz with them over the next year.
There’s still time to catch the festive special, the last session of the term on our Youtube channel RWCMDTV.
This Friday is the final #AmserJazzTime of 2020! We are celebrating with Part 2 of the #AmserJazzTime Christmas special. Come and join us one last time for some groovy jazz vibes on Friday at 5.30pm https://t.co/vpYsSqjov2
— AmserJazzTime (@AmserJazzTime) December 7, 2020
AmserJazzTime returns in January and keep your ears open for some news on #AmserJazzTimeSpecials coming soon!
Like so many of our creatives this year, some of our third year music students took a sideways glance at their normal practise, and created a new way of working to accommodate the challenges:
Working as part of Repco – our unique student-led arts company – they turned their annual booking at Cardiff’s National Museum into a social media take-over to deliver a day of pre-recorded concerts which brought together all of our music depts.
Here’s just one highlight – exploring synaesthesia and the ability of colours to create music.
Collaboration is one of the many things our students enjoy about being at a College which celebrates both music and drama:
Bringing together music, composition and design, the Flying Bedroomers weren’t going to let a little thing like lockdown thwart their new immersive theatre company. We’ve just heard that they’re appearing at virtual theatre project Show Face Festival which brings together innovative and inspiring work from across the globe:
— The Flying Bedroom (@FlyingBedroom) December 14, 2020
Find out more about the Bedroomers ongoing flight in our blog (link below).
And collaborating with Design for Performance, composition student Bethany Lewis created the music for their paper sculpture exhibition at the start of term:
— bethany porter lewis (@porterlewis_b) October 7, 2020
We’re really grateful that as a place of training we’re able to continue creating performances when all the other venues in Wales are still dark, and that we have special permission from the Welsh government to do this.
It’s so important our students can continue to make productions and engage with such a diverse range of guest artists and live performance – and we really appreciate all the extra work that goes on both front and back stage to enable this to happen.
The one act operas Venus and Adonis and Dido and Aeneas, directed by MA directing students Fleur Snow and Madeleine Brooks, made up two of the seven operas we’ve performed since Augus:
Today we see “Venus and Adonis” and “Dido and Aeneas” – socially distanced and filmed – @rwcmd directed by MA Opera Directors @MadeleineAlleg2 and @F1eurSnow and conducted by Constança Simas and Stefano Boccacci #rwcmdcreative pic.twitter.com/Ny7LC3bC0v
— Martin Constantine (@martconstantine) November 15, 2020
They heroically brought the student-led initiative to the stage with over 25 singers, 10 players and 10 creatives and departments from across the College, while also battling the odds of a global pandemic and a national firebreak lockdown: #RWCMDCollaboration.
Our series of masterclasses has continued as usual against all those well-known odds. We’re approaching things a little differently now, but we’re still bringing world-class artists to the College to work directly with our students.
The visiting artists also enjoyed the rare chance to perform – giving concerts to a limited numbers of socially distanced staff and students – with those who can’t get into the concert hall watching via live streaming into the foyer. Our general audience can catch many of these performances a few days later as part of our digital programme.
Extra excited to hear from Héloïse + Freya in a composition seminar shortly! pic.twitter.com/6RwoY4PJcu
— (@JasperDommett) November 13, 2020
Mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately performed alongside pianist Simon Lepper before both giving separate masterclasses:
And harp welcomed RWCMD Fellow, composition graduate and former Royal Harpist Catrin Finch:
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Percussionist Dan Ellis gave a masterclass about commercial percussion and working in the West End. Dan’s currently percussionist for the Prince of Egypt, and talked about his experience playing with Take That and Robbie Williams.
Dan’s also joining us as a visiting tutor in commercial percussion in January, so we’ll find out more about Gary, Robbie and the boys then.
Sidiki Dembele returned to College for a truly inspirational masterclass – which you can read more about in our blog:
Drumming master #SidikiDembele returned @RWCMD yesterday for a workshop focusing on his true love, the #djembe. Working with percussion students & sharing his passion for the music, the connection & the heart that makes the very best musicians #RWCMDPercussion #Africandrumming pic.twitter.com/C6mgaJnxZH
— Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (@RWCMD) November 12, 2020
Woodwind masterclasses have included bassoonist Nikolaj Henriques, flautist Sarah Newbold and piccolo player Lindsey Ellis:
What an amazing high-octane masterclass exploring all things baroque with @paulgoodwin123 & #RWCMDWoodwind!
Truly inspirational. Vivaldi, Couperin,Bach & Blavet all explored in technicolour!Huge thanks Paul for visiting us while busy conducting@BBCNOW, recording for @BBCRadio3 pic.twitter.com/ObxtSMCMg7
— RWCMD Woodwind (@RWCMDwoodwind) November 10, 2020
as well as concerts from our own students:
A fab mix of solo flute, sax quartet, flute quintet and wind octet!
I’m so happy that live performances are able to happen (with all the covid restrictions in place) pic.twitter.com/5M3Mj4nHdU
— Josephine Connor (@josephine_flute) November 18, 2020
Strings students have experienced a multitude of riches, with masterclasses ranging from Philip Higham to Rachel Podger and Carmine Lauri really showcasing the Dora’s wonderful acoustics:
Turning chamber music on its head, the Tippett Quartet and Heloise Werner joined us for a glorious performance after their masterclasses.
Tonight’s the night! At 7.30pm we premiere the @tippettquartet‘s performance featuring the wonderful soprano @Heloise_Werner over on our YouTube channel. Come and rediscover Ravel’s ravishing String Quartet and experience a new work by Freya Waley-Cohen https://t.co/VynFUiU6wY
— Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (@RWCMD) November 26, 2020
And The Manchester Collective enjoyed their visit last year so much they came back for more:
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Follow RWCMDStrings on instagram to find out what else they’re getting up to.
Back in October, with our 24 brand new Steinways nicely settling into their new home, we continued our celebration of the keyboard with the College’s Grand Weekend. Highlights included masterclasses and performances in the Dora on the new Concert Grand with jazz pianist Zoe Rahman, and the legendary Peter Donohoe.
As well as masterclasses with the likes of grad Dom Bilkey, our stage managers joined their fellow students working in a very different way on our Richard Burton Company productions this term.
#RWCMDStageMgmt students with grad & @NationalTheatre Head of Sound & Video @DominicBilkey, discussing the audience experience & the democracy of sound – & at what decibel level we all start to party…
Happy #IntStageManagementDay: here’s to the party continuing. #StageMgrs20 pic.twitter.com/YGXPyzkYWM
— Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (@RWCMD) October 10, 2020
Rising to the challenge of safely presenting drama performance to our audiences we launched our very first #RWCMDFilmFest – now available free online.
The Richard Burton Company, our final year actors, designers and stage managers, worked with a professional film crew to create three short films scripted by leading writers, Hodge International Chair in Drama Simon Stephens, RWCMD graduate Moira Buffini, and Simon Longman.
We’re really excited to share with you the very first Royal Welsh Short Film Festival! #RWCMDFilmFest
Three brand new films created by our amazing students who have worked so hard over the past few months to develop productions for screen rather than stage https://t.co/YNNkU4NOUx pic.twitter.com/Y9XEfXh8AU
— Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (@RWCMD) November 27, 2020
and there was collaboration with composition students creating the soundtracks for these fabulous films:
— Ella Roberts (@sound_by_ella) November 27, 2020
Following fast on its footsteps was our inaugural #InCamera season. Five plays, some of which will be able to be seen by audiences online, were brought together by teams of student actors, stage managers, designers, scenic artists, constructors and costume designers.
All are supported and supervised by our amazing staff, committed to allowing the students to have a real experience, even with small invited audiences.
— Zoë Waterman (@Zoe_Waterman) November 28, 2020
These plays will be available to watch online in the New Year and all details will be on our What’s On pages.
When they haven’t been busy creating paper sculptures, making puppets, and designing set and costumes for the RBC plays, Design for Performance students have been busy on their other inspirational projects.
Here’s Design student Mikayla Teodoro who last month, along with fellow MA designers Tessa Bentley on set and prop construction, and Ariadna Bosch Clavero who designed the costumes, designed this atmospheric dance piece by Filipino-Belgian choreographer Jason Mabana.
Follow @mikayla.design on instagram to find out more about her designs for the Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Childrens Charity.
As well as the Alumni Tuba Quartet joining national youth arts charity Music for Youth’s #TheFutureisNow interactive music weekend, Flora Brass came together with Head of Brass Roger Argente and his mega-band SuperBrass for a ‘Play-Along: Brass Blast’ workshop:
Putting the finishing touches to the parts & scores for Xaloc, a brand new work created for BRASS BLAST @musicforyouth and #TheFutureIsNow – which will be featured with the help of @Flora_Brass @RWCMD on Dec 4th/5th. Register here – it’s gonna be a BLAST ! https://t.co/SCCsclktcG https://t.co/JjvlY7CFjl
— Roger Argente (@superbrassuk) November 25, 2020
And the Covid Grinch didn’t steal Christmas for some lucky Welsh primary school children who were able to enjoy a Christmas concert even when they were isolating. As part of their teaching skills module our third year jazz students usually come together to take their Christmas Jazz into schools, introducing children to music through performance, interaction and crucially, fun.
Determined not to let Covid beat them, this year they recorded the session in our festive foyer and Welsh schools can apply to watch it through their Music Services – so children can play along with the Christmas concerts safely in their bubbles and classrooms.
No better way to enter our last week of term than hearing #RWCMDJazz students rocking around the foyer; recording their Christmas jazz project for Welsh primary schools featuring all the best-loved festive classics with introductions to instruments & a chance to join in & play! pic.twitter.com/eLFxn1itYw
— Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (@RWCMD) December 7, 2020
And of course our brilliant Student Union have been hard at work all term, offering both practical and emotional support and everything from yoga to craft classes. And as well as supporting charities like the breast cancer charity CoppaFeel and collecting for the Trussell Trust foodbank network, they’ve been creating winter warmer care packages for students who are staying in Cardiff over the holidays.
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It just wouldn’t be Christmas without our annual Musical Theatre Christmas Cabaret, lockdown or not! Llongyfarchiadau to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen: distanced singing, mic changes after every song, sanitizer on stage, sparkly masks for everyone, and a partridge in a pear tree!
Keep an eye out for our graduates, sprinkling their creative Christmas magic around this festive time, mostly on screen and online, but some have been lucky enough to have been in theatres too:
Horn grad Alys Jones is the Horn Chair for the Dominion’s Theatre’s A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theatre throughout Christmas, with plenty of students and grads deputising within the orchestra, it’s been a real RWCMD reunion.
And our graduate designers have been busy sharing the Christmas joy, with Rose Revitt, designing the set and costumes for Nicholas Hytner’s Christmas Carol at London’s Bridge Theatre, and Debbie Duru as Associate Set Designer on the National Theatre’s Dick Whittington. Sadly these have now closed because of new restrictions, but Dick Whittington has now been filmed and will be available for free on the NT Youtube channel from 23 Dec.
As part of the Live from the Met series, Opera Performance grad Trystan Llyr Griffiths joined our Vice-President and Fellow Sir Bryn Terfel, live from a candle-lit Brecon Cathedral for a festive programme, with special guest graduate and former Royal Harpist Hannah Stone. Available to watch until Dec 30th.
Little peek at rehearsals. @TrystanLlyr @natalyaromaniw @HannahStoneHarp ahead of my #MetStarsLive gala this Saturday. A joy to be able sing again. I hope you can join me for a night to remember
Tickets available 👇https://t.co/xHpCPRZcom pic.twitter.com/OOvabunbXD
— Bryn T Jones (@Bryn_Terfel) December 10, 2020We’re ending this challenging year with some exciting news for British classical music: our music and Arts management graduate Toks Dada has just started his new job as Head of Classical Music at the South Bank Centre. We’re looking forward to hearing what he gets up to and will be sharing a blog with you soon.
This term we were proud to launch our hugely important A Space for Everyone campaign, working with students, staff, graduates and friends to bring together our Strategic Equalities Plan, making the College a safe and creative space for all of us.
We were supported in this by our inspirational Hodge International Chair of Diversity, Uzo Iwobi OBE – and were thrilled to see her celebrated and cherished in style, as one of only eight ‘Covid Champions’ beamed onto the legendary Stonehenge, in appreciation of all her immense and ongoing work for the community,
So thankful for the heritage family in Wales highlighting the work we do to showcase the heritage of Black People in Wales @BHMWales @BHCymru365 @BAMECymruElders @charwilliamsOBE @mariangwyn @HeritageFundCYM @HeritageFundUK @Arts_Wales_ @AbbieWightwick https://t.co/eRpJrWGjtY pic.twitter.com/uO2uq9kZLe
— Race Council Cymru (@rcccymru) December 2, 2020
Of course, none of this could happen without Team RWCMD: our wonderful students working alongside our front of house staff, tech ops, stage managers, academic and admin staff, visiting artists, venue assistants, our friends at Sherman Theatre, to name but a few. All coming together to cherish and share the privilege we have as a place of training to continue to create live performance.
And diolch yn fawr to our lovely library staff who give us so much more than academic sustenance:
We’ve created some virtual escapism for you to enjoy at home… head to https://t.co/lKuRrh3HOO to watch! We’ve recorded short stories and poems to which you can unwind… 🕊️😌#wellbeing @RWCMD #rwcmd #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthAwareness pic.twitter.com/xMItCpsvlb
— RWCMD Library (@RWCMDLibrary) December 2, 2020
It means so much to us that so many of you have joined us on this journey, while staying safe.
Take it away, Stage Managers:
It cant be Christmas at Welsh Col without a few gobos now can it? #anyexcuseforagobo #canthavetoomanyfairylights
— Rob Graham-White (@RobGrahamWhite1) November 25, 2020
See you on the other side of Christmas…
Find out more about our courses go to our website www.rwcmd.ac.uk/study
Featured photo of Musical Theatre’s Christmas Cabaret: Kirsten McTernan