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MMus/MA Composition

Introduction

Our context is the contemporary international scene and our composers share some of the best facilities in Europe with their performing contemporaries. Our critically acclaimed annual festival, Plug, has become a renowned platform for new work and this year includes exciting collaborations with the Paris Conservatoire.

Professional groups, including Red Note and Hebrides Ensemble, have also premiered over 30 student compositions as part of our ongoing public masterclass programme. As a student composer you’ll also benefit from our excellent cohort of student performers. Capable of a range of professional performance, you won’t be limited to composing in a certain way for certain types of players, but will be free to develop your own compositional ideas.

We offer high contact time of 90 minutes one-to-one tuition each week. As working artists with various areas of expertise, our tutors bring live projects into lessons helping you to explore your own compositional voice. Together with your tutor your end of year portfolio will be negotiated, not prescribed. Every student embarks on their own learning journey; you can pursue a second study, work in the superb electroacoustic and recording studios, or devise new work in our purpose-built performance venues.

There’s also a real sense of a community among our students, staff and PhD cohort. The Composers Forum meets every Thursday and might include visiting composers and poets or perhaps a chance to discuss your work. Involving the full department, it’s an opportunity to listen to styles of music which you may not have heard or considered before and can help to challenge the orthodoxy and even your own ideas. You may also discuss work by PhD students who are engaged in larger works not experienced in earlier years of study. Our students have also set up their own Composers Collective which meets every two weeks to discuss different musical influences. Composition can be a solitary existence and at the Royal Conservatoire we develop the skills to work with other artists.

One of the best things about the Royal Conservatoire is our diversity, not just among musicians but across the whole institution. Due to differing artistic influences our students have developed a number of stand-alone projects in dance, theatre, film, and musical theatre. Different work in a range of different contexts makes us exciting and continually challenges our work. As Scotland’s national conservatoire we’re also approached countrywide with requests for new commissions and students often arrange their own performances of new work across Glasgow’s vibrant city centre.

By studying here you’ll be working with our diverse and talented performing community and will enjoy outstanding facilities and professional partnerships. Creative artists create because they have something in them they want to say. At the Royal Conservatoire we not only help you do that but also prepare you for the realities of professional life.

Introduction

Our context is the contemporary international scene and our composers share some of the best facilities in Europe with their performing contemporaries. Our critically acclaimed annual festival, Plug, has become a renowned platform for new work and this year includes exciting collaborations with the Paris Conservatoire.

Professional groups, including Red Note and Hebrides Ensemble, have also premiered over 30 student compositions as part of our ongoing public masterclass programme. As a student composer you’ll also benefit from our excellent cohort of student performers. Capable of a range of professional performance, you won’t be limited to composing in a certain way for certain types of players, but will be free to develop your own compositional ideas.

We offer high contact time of 90 minutes one-to-one tuition each week. As working artists with various areas of expertise, our tutors bring live projects into lessons helping you to explore your own compositional voice. Together with your tutor your end of year portfolio will be negotiated, not prescribed. Every student embarks on their own learning journey; you can pursue a second study, work in the superb electroacoustic and recording studios, or devise new work in our purpose-built performance venues.

There’s also a real sense of a community among our students, staff and PhD cohort. The Composers Forum meets every Thursday and might include visiting composers and poets or perhaps a chance to discuss your work. Involving the full department, it’s an opportunity to listen to styles of music which you may not have heard or considered before and can help to challenge the orthodoxy and even your own ideas. You may also discuss work by PhD students who are engaged in larger works not experienced in earlier years of study. Our students have also set up their own Composers Collective which meets every two weeks to discuss different musical influences. Composition can be a solitary existence and at the Royal Conservatoire we develop the skills to work with other artists.

One of the best things about the Royal Conservatoire is our diversity, not just among musicians but across the whole institution. Due to differing artistic influences our students have developed a number of stand-alone projects in dance, theatre, film, and musical theatre. Different work in a range of different contexts makes us exciting and continually challenges our work. As Scotland’s national conservatoire we’re also approached countrywide with requests for new commissions and students often arrange their own performances of new work across Glasgow’s vibrant city centre.

By studying here you’ll be working with our diverse and talented performing community and will enjoy outstanding facilities and professional partnerships. Creative artists create because they have something in them they want to say. At the Royal Conservatoire we not only help you do that but also prepare you for the realities of professional life.

Programme Outline

The Composition MMus degree course shares many attributes with the BMus degree and this facilitates the cross fertilisation of ideas from a similar discipline across degree structures. By design there is strong dialogue between composers of all levels of experience at the Conservatoire from undergraduate, postgraduate through to research, which creates a strong and supportive learning environment. In addition to a weekly ninety minute lessons, the Masters composers is encouraged to develop their own personal directions and these are taken into account when learning journeys are agreed at the beginning of each academic year. There is the choice for collaboration across the Conservatoire’s Schools and weekly Composers Forums and seminars.

Staff and masterclasses

Our members of staff specialise in areas from aesthetics to electroacoustic composition and performance and workshops. Discussion of student composition is at the core of both the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

We have strong links with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Glasgow School of Art. Our resident group, the Hebrides Ensemble, gives public performances of work by postgraduate composers.

Our centre-piece annual festival of contemporary music – PLUG – has premiered many new works and commissions.

Head of Composition

Gordon McPherson BA DPhil

Masterclasses

Previous composers in residence have included Judith Weir, James MacMillan and Param Vir. Each has brought her/his own unique approach and they have been joined by a growing list of composers including:

  • Sir Harrison Birtwistle
  • Thomas Adès
  • Sir Richard Rodney Bennett
  • Mark-Anthony Turnage
  • HK Gruber
  • Yannis Kyriakides
  • Donnachy Dennehy
  • Nigel Osborne
  • Richard Ayres
  • Trevor Wishart
  • Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Jonathan Harvey

The performance of new work is of paramount importance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and composers have worked with and have strong links with the Hebrides Ensemble, the Paragon Ensemble, Psappha , the Fidelio Trio, the New Music Players, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Flute Trio, Symposia, Icebreaker amongst other orchestras and ensembles.

How to apply

Before applying we recommend that you follow our Applicant Guide journey which provides all the essential information regarding entry requirements, and the full application and audition process.

Begin your Applicant Journey here.

Making your application

Applications for the MMus programme should be made through the UCAS Conservatoires website. There is a UCAS application fee of £25 (which is in addition to the audition fee) which allows you up to six choices of programme of study.

Why choose us?

  • Professional partnerships both nationally and internationally including Robin Michael, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Icebreaker, Psappha, New Music Players, Red Note, Garth Knox, Richard Craig, Kreutzer String Quartet, Scottish Ensemble and the Conservatoire de Paris
  • Annual contemporary new music festival Plug which, over the past 10 years, has premiered 475 new works
  • Excellent staff-student ratio

Entry requirements

  • Normally a good Honours (at least 2.2) degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a subject area relevant to the demands of the programme

Entrance to the Conservatoire is based on talent, potential and ability, therefore consideration will be given to relevant experience which is deemed to compensate for any traditional education. We accept a wide range of qualification, including international qualifications. If you wish to check the suitability of your qualification/experience, please contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk.

English Language

The language of study is English. Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. We accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Other equivalent English Language qualifications may be considered, please contact admissions@rcs.ac.uk for more information.

  • IELTS – 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component

Audition Requirements

Audition requirements are given in the MMus-MA Guide for Applicants 2015-16, which can be found at http://www.rcs.ac.uk/studyhere/how-to-apply/music/.

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees for academic year 2017-18

  • MMus Composition (2 years) UK/EU Students – £8,094
  • MMus Composition (2 years) International (non-EU) – £15,513
  • MA Composition (1 year) UK/EU Students – £10,983
  • MA Composition (1 year) International (non-EU) – £18,648

Scottish/EU students

New Scottish and EU domiciled students may be eligible for a Postgraduate Tuition Fee Loan. All eligible students will be able to apply directly to Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a non-means tested loan of up to £3,400. See the following website for further details of the PSAS scheme:

http://www.saas.gov.uk/full_time/pg/index.htm

Scottish domiciled postgraduate students on eligible courses can also apply for a Postgraduate Living Cost Loan up to £4,500 towards living expenses. This is in addition to the existing loan available towards the cost of their tuition fees.

Scholarships

Any potential student who auditions for a place at the Royal Conservatoire will automatically be considered for a scholarship. They are awarded on a combination of talent, potential and financial need. More information about Scholarships is available here

Sources of external funding

For more information about alternative funding sources, including external scholarships and bursaries, please visit here.

The Conservatoire’s International and Student Experience team are available to advise and assist applicants and current students in respect of queries about funding your studies at the Conservatoire. Please email or telephone +44 (0)141 270 8281/ +44 (0)141 270 8223 for further information.

Graduate destinations

Most composer graduates from the Composition department choose to remain in Glasgow’s flourishing music culture and some go on to forward study both at other institutions and here (MMus and PhD). Many of our graduates have formed and instigated ensembles and music events in Glasgow which in turn have fed back into the learning culture of the Conservatoire, most notably ensembles Thing, Symposia and the Glasgow New Music Expedition and experimental music events such as Engines, Gregor Samsa and Eyegrid. Most of our graduates have become professional composers working in the world of classical contemporary music with commissions and residencies from amongst others the Royal Scottish national Orchestra, RedNote, the BBC, Scottish Opera, Royal Opera House and Ensemble Modern.

Facilities

The Composition Department has a full suite of Computers which are equipped with the industry standard versions of Sibelius, Pro Tools, and Max/MSP as well as other software designed to engage the compositional process. We have three electroacoustic music studios and one recording studio, a full sized Indonesian gamelan, and are about the ship from Los Angeles one of the former student and Rhythm Theory expert Steve Forman’s exciting collection of working exotic percussion to become part of the Department’s permanent collection.

Images and videos

Plug Film

Composition students talk about the experience of writing music for two Conservatoire films and then showcasing them at the 2012 Plug Festival.

Plug rehearsal

“…Scotland’s most ambitious and daring new music project .” (The Herald)

PLUG started off from a lack of enthusiasm for what had become the official annual contemporary music festival. We felt that the canon of what is generally accepted as contemporary music in the UK was no longer relevant to our students so we wanted to create something new.

As a result our first instincts were to concentrate on composers that are relatively ignored by most of the performing organisations in the UK – composers such as Ingram Marshall, Claude Vivier, Henry Brant and Jani Christou.

As well as this unusual repertoire it was becoming increasingly clear, as the Composition Department grew, that some of the interesting music around was coming from our own composers.

So, we decided to give them their own platform to showcase solely their works. And that idea became the concept for PLUG, our annual festival of new music. Since those first days, PLUG has grown from strength to strength and is heralded as one of the most exciting festivals in the UK, if not wider, for new music. It not only means a hectic week of hundreds of new works at the Royal Conservatoire but last year also saw the compositions of two of our students premiered at the City Halls, with Ilan Volkov conducting our own ensemble MusicLab. The concert was part of BBC Hear and Now, was filmed for the BBC and recorded for BBC Radio 3.

Altogether we have premiered over 300 new works since PLUG has been running. For our students it is a phenomenal opportunity to have their works played by wonderful musicians. Last year we even had tap dancers, furniture builders and a performance by two of our Modern Ballet students. Intrigued?