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The Composition pathway is designed to develop artistically aware, imaginative and confident creators, who are equipped to succeed as musicians in a rapidly-changing cultural landscape.
We are looking for active and engaged individuals, who are interested in developing professional attitudes towards compositional practices, willing to collaborate and develop communication skills for use with other composers, performers and artists from a broad range of disciplines, demonstrating an independent willingness to prepare for lessons and classes, and a clear interest in widening musical experiences as they progress through their studies with us here at the RCS.
When you study Composition, you will be working with our diverse and talented performing community in some of the best facilities in Europe. You’ll benefit from our professional partnerships with leading ensembles and orchestras, and there will be opportunities to hear your work performed. The performance of new work is of paramount importance to us, and we have a significant reputation for contemporary music. PLUG, our critically acclaimed annual festival, has become a renowned platform for new work, premiering hundreds of new works.
You’ll follow your own tailored path through the programme; you have the option to include a second study in performance, work in the superb electroacoustic and recording studios, or devise new work in our purpose-built performance venues.
Our staff are working artists, with various areas of specialist expertise. There’s a real sense of community among our composition students, staff, and PhD cohort; the Composers Forum meets weekly, and our students are offered support in setting up their own collectives for collaboration and performance. Composition can be a solitary existence; at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, we help you to develop the skills to work with other artists across disciplines, allowing our students to develop a number of projects with dance, theatre, film, and musical theatre.
This is a four-year course, designed to help you develop a range of high-level skills. As such the course is suited to the students’ needs and develops at the speed of the individual. The Department recognises that most composers come to composition later than most instrumentalists and we take that into consideration when developing each individual’s compositional journey. The Principal Study lessons consist of 90-minute tutorials per week (60 minutes in Year 1), but that is really the beginning of the experience. The Composition department prides itself on its camaraderie and supportive environment and all the years from undergraduate to postgraduate to research are closely integrated.
Each composer is assessed through a portfolio submission at the end of each academic year, which will reflect the integration of your practical composing, improvising, reading, writing, listening, collaborating and musicianship skills that you will develop during the BMus course.
The Composition department has connections and relationships with most professional music groups in Scotland and recently has collaborated with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Psappha, the Fidelio Trio, the New Music Players, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Red Note, and Icebreaker, amongst other internationally-recognised orchestras and ensembles. We have also taken part in collaborative projects with Glasgow School of Art, Stirling University Art Collection, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Scottish Music Centre.
In addition to individual lessons, you will also take part in Composition Studies classes each year, such as:
Composition graduates work across the world in a variety of industries including orchestras, film and TV, and gaming. Graduates include:
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is in the World Top 10 for performing arts education 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021 (QS World Rankings)
PLUG has been created to offer a professional platform for our students to showcase their works, through an annual festival of new music.
PLUG has grown from strength to strength over the years, and so far over 300 new works have received their premiere performances. Many other opportunities for performances of new student work also exist elsewhere in the calendar year, and many new collaborations and working relationships are forged by our students inside and outside of the building each year.
“…Scotland’s most ambitious and daring new music project .” (The Herald)
Previous composers in residence have included Judith Weir and Param Vir. Each has brought her/his own unique approach and they have been joined by a growing list of composers including: