An especially happy ‘old job/new job’ moment

Kazuki Yamada conducting

Three weeks into my first ‘proper’ term at RBC, and I am already enjoying the buzz created by our students and our wide programme of live events.

Yesterday provided me with an especially happy ‘old job / new job’ moment as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) Chief Conductor Kazuki Yamada gave a masterclass with our orchestra and five postgraduate student conductors.

Kazuki was his usual generous, insightful and entertaining self. For all students involved, this masterclass provided a useful early-year workout – on Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, quite an appropriate piece!

Last week, I was also lucky enough to hear the CBSO’s performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No.8 in Symphony Hall. It was conducted by alumnus Michael Seal, with no fewer than three students in the orchestra, as well as a great many in the audience. The CBSO’s generous £5 student tickets are proving as popular as ever this year.

I have also enjoyed an excellent student performance in the Eastside Jazz Club, and am now looking forward to the Chamber Choir’s Monteverdi Vespers on 27 October, as well as the Symphony Orchestra’s November performances in the Bradshaw Hall and Symphony Hall.

Before then, I will be heading to China next week for the annual meeting of the Global Music Education League, and to speak at four of the leading Chinese conservatoires.

RBC and Birmingham City University (BCU) enjoy strong relationships with China, and the community of Chinese students here plays an important part in all our activities.

As term began, we were pleased with our performance in two of the national league tables. In the Guardian University Guide, RBC Acting achieved second place in the Drama table, and in the Sunday Times Good University Guide, we achieved a high third place for music among the UK Conservatoires.

BCU also achieved a Gold rating for Student Experience in the Teaching Excellence Framework, which is assessed by the Office for Students. As we enter recruitment season for 2024 entry, these ratings are an encouraging reflection of our high standing within the sector, and our early application numbers look positive too.

Finally, we look forward to welcoming the new BCU Vice-Chancellor professor David Mba to RBC later this month. We will also be saying farewell to his predecessor Professor Philip Plowden with a special rock concert on 26 October – never let it be said that RBC is anything other than eclectic!

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