The music industry is a kaleidoscope of different and exciting opportunities and today’s musician is likely to pursue a portfolio career, working in several areas simultaneously.
In order to stay in touch with how the musical world is evolving, we have forged excellent links with professional musical organisations in Birmingham and beyond.
Each of these partnerships provides a unique opportunity for our students to step out into the professional world – a vital stage in any musician’s transition from student to full professional:
CBSO Orchestral Training Scheme
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) has now firmly established its name on the world stage. Under the leadership of Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and now Andris Nelsons, the orchestra has maintained a growing relationship with Birmingham Conservatoire, which includes conductor and ensemble workshops, research, unique performance opportunities and the CBSO Training Scheme.
The Training Scheme provides the opportunity for selected students from the Strings, Woodwind, Brass and Percussion departments to gain first-hand professional experience by observing and playing in CBSO rehearsals.
Students on the Scheme also have the opportunity to perform in CBSO masterclasses and receive orchestral audition training and mentoring from orchestra principals. Auditions for the scheme reflect professional orchestral audition procedures.
BRB Pianists for Dance Scheme
Birmingham Royal Ballet is one of the jewels in the city’s cultural crown and the Pianists for Dance Scheme is part of BRB’s developing relationship with the Conservatoire.
It allows piano students to attend BRB rehearsals and performances, and offers selected students the opportunity to train as rehearsal pianists with this internationally-renowned company. Trainees undertake improvisation classes and challenging repertoire, working with the company and its Education Department. This successful scheme has already produced a number professional ballet pianists.
Symphony Hall and The Whitlock Organ Scholarship
Acclaimed as one of the finest concert halls in the world, Birmingham’s Symphony Hall has maintained a long and varied partnership with the Conservatoire.
Among its collaborations with The Conservatoire is an organ scholarship funded by the Percy Whitlock Trust and established in celebration of the outstanding four-manual Klais organ inaugurated in Symphony Hall in 2001. The Scholar plays a significant role in Symphony Hall’s education programme, presenting the organ to school groups and members of the public, as well as giving recitals.
External engagements and professional experience opportunities
The Conservatoire’s External Engagements programme offers advanced students the chance to undertake engagements throughout the Midlands area. With advice available on programming, presentation, contracts and fees, these opportunities can constitute a vital part of students’ professional training.
For Music Technology students, there is ample scope to be involved in recording live concert performances at the Conservatoire, and those wishing to learn about and be involved in concert management can join the team of concert stewards who work to ensure the smooth running of internal and external events.
BCMG workshops and reading sessions
Originally formed by players from within the CBSO, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) is now established as one of Europe’s leading ensembles.
Its core work revolves around the commissioning and performance of new music and its partnership with the Conservatoire’s Composition Department represents a natural extension of that purpose. As well as running workshops for Conservatoire composition students, BCMG players regularly undertake read-throughs of student works, giving young composers invaluable feedback and the benefit of experience within a professional context.
Furthermore, the Conservatoire’s contemporary music group, the Thallien Ensemble, receives ensemble coaching from BCMG’s visiting conductors and composers, as well as BCMG players.
Birmingham Jazz Collaborations
Birmingham Jazz is the region’s foremost jazz organisation and a strong supporter of the Conservatoire’s jazz programme and its students. Each year Artistic Director Tony Dudley-Evans reviews fourth-year students’ final performances in order to provide them with feedback from a professional promoter’s perspective and advise on possible performance opportunities.
This valuable link has in the past led to the inclusion of several outstanding senior students in major jazz festivals, such as the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival. Birmingham Jazz also works with the Conservatoire to arrange regular masterclasses with visiting professional artists, as well as free access to many Birmingham Jazz gigs for Conservatoire jazz students.
Selected students are also invited to sit on Birmingham Jazz’s committee, where they experience programming and management decisions first-hand.
Professional development for organists
In addition to the Whitlock Scholarship, organ students can take advantage of scholarships offered by Lichfield Cathedral, St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham Cathedral and other local churches.
Music Technology Training
We have teamed up with Birmingham's Apple Accredited Training Centre to offer students a reduction on all their certified pro application media courses, available at the New Technology Institute in Birmingham.