Tuesday 7 December 2021

Royal Academy of Music celebrates its bicentenary with a year-long season of events from new opera to Purcell's Fairy Queen and Bach cantatas

Royal Academy of Music at night (photo Adam Scott)
Royal Academy of Music at night (photo Adam Scott)

The Royal Academy of Music was founded in 1822 by the soldier and diplomat, John Fane, Earl of Westmorland who was a good violinist and a prolific composer, along with the French harpist Nicholas Bochsa. And the Academy is celebrating its 200th birthday in fine style with a season of events running from January 2022 to 2023. Although there is not a single date when the Academy was founded, 21 July 1822 marks the announcement from the committee, and the Royal Charter was granted by King George IV in 1830. The first lesson took place on 14 March 1823. The Academy is the oldest UK conservatoire and the second oldest in the world after the Paris Conservatoire (founded in 1795 when the Royal School of Singing was combined with an institute responsible for training musicians for the National Guard bands)

There Academy's birthday season will include the world premiere of a new opera, WITCH from Freya Waley-Cohen, which was commissioned the Academy, Purcell's Fairy Queen will be performed using the autograph score from the Academy's collection, plus a new staged work, Daylighting, by Louise Drewett featuring local school children

There are concerts from the Academy Symphony Orchestra with conductors Semyon Bychkov, Christian Thielemann, Ludovic Morlot, Lorenza Borrani, John Wilson, Sir Mark Elder and Trevor Pinnock, and masterclasses from Dame Sarah Connolly, James Ehnes, Joyce DiDonato, Dave Holland, Angelika Kirchschlager, Igor Levit and Claude-Michel Schönberg , the Academy Song Circle will be performing works from 1822 and 1922 at the Wigmore Hall, and the Royal Academy Musical Theatre Company will be working with Claude-Michel Schönberg, Imelda Staunton, John Caird, Natalie Abrahami and Sandy Faison. The Academy's Bach cantata series continues with a new exploration, performing Bach's 1723 cantata cycle.

The ambitious 200 pieces project continues with new works written for solo instruments and voices, including by Hans Abrahamsen, Sir George Benjamin, Sally Beamish and Daniel Kidane.

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