Next week sees the first concerts in Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Concert Hall. Every Tuesday from 9th January, weekly hour-long lunchtime recitals will feature musicians from Radio 3’s New Generation Artists.
This is the latest in a series of big announcements coming from the newly minted Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, announcements that project an air optimism and excitement about a city which has in recent years upped the ante in reasserting itself. The story that’s being told now is one of reinvestment, redevelopment, and in part, preservation.
And since the opening of the newly built Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (replacing the concrete carbuncle in the centre of the city) that same story of transformation can be told about music training in Brum.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, opened on 7th September 2017
A new book by former graduate, professor and Fellow of the Birmingham School of Music Christopher Morley, provides a thorough history of the institution, documenting its various homes, and its present day range of activities.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire: Inspiring Musicians Since 1886 published by Elliott and Thompson oozes pride in the institution. It also celebrates the talent which has helped power the institution throughout its 121 year history, a history that doesn’t get talked about very often.
Careful picture editing has contributed to a striking sense of drama, helping position the conservatoire as a diverse and inclusive institution.
Amid some of the politically reductive discussions about the value of higher education, Morley’s survey is timely. At the same time as stating relevance of itself, and of specialist music education, the book also illustrates how such conservatoires depend on composers, conductors, and professional orchestral musicians to make up its faculty.
These institutions don’t exist in a vacuum. In places like Birmingham they’re helping reassert a city’s cultural identity. And the effect is surprisingly infectious.
To talk of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire today, must acknowledge the interdependencies with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle, pianist Peter Donohoe, and composer Granville Bantock to name a few.
The cultural ecosystem that these connections helped create project Birmingham as an exciting destination, one that has weight and an infectious sense of self-confidence about itself.
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