With a clear focus on preparing students for career in and around music performance, the Woodwind Department is able to offer a full range of opportunities for students to gain experience as soloists, chamber musicians and orchestral players.
Most of the professional musicians who make up the departmental staff are current members of the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera or the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. There are also past or present members of the English Chamber, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony and Academy of St Martin in the Fields orchestras.
Individual instrumental lessons are complimented by tuition in small groups and by dedicated time with an accompanist. Departmental performance classes with dedicated professional accompanists also provide regular opportunities for students to perform for one another, and to receive feedback both from specialist tutors, and other students.
Masterclasses are with some of the world’s finest woodwind soloists and teachers, which have included: William Bennett, Ian Clarke and Adam Walker (flute); Francois Leleux, John Anderson and Gordon Hunt (oboe); Michael Collins, David Campbell and Mark van de Wiel (clarinet); Vincent David, Christian Forshaw and Gerard McChrystal (saxophone) and Pascal Gallois, Lyndon Watts and Dag Jensen (bassoon).
During their first year, every student is placed in a wind quintet (or a similar sized group) consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone or French horn and bassoon. Quintets receive regular coaching with specialist staff, as well as assessments and public performance opportunities, both at the College and at external venues.
College orchestras range from a full symphony orchestra through chamber, light music, opera, contemporary, baroque and wind orchestras and there are classes several times a week on orchestral training and repertoire for all orchestral woodwind students. There is also a weekly saxophone choir and two large woodwind chamber ensembles, which maintain a regular concert schedule, including trips to concert halls at venues in Wales and England.
Students come from music colleges and universities around the world to study at RWCMD at postgraduate level, and many are attracted by the Orchestral Performance Programme, which features established placement schemes with the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, allowing students to play in selected rehearsals with two of the UK’s leading professional orchestras. This provides an entry into the world of professional orchestral employment; and many former students are now working regularly with these two orchestras, and with others around the UK and abroad.
The reed making room is equipped with modern machinery for use by oboe and bassoon students, and there is regular instruction in this important area.
Multi-Instrument Woodwind Performance
The College boasts a flourishing multi-instrument strand within the Woodwind Department. Under the dynamic leadership of RWCMD multi-instrument specialist James Mainwaring, this pathway encompasses the study of all that it is to be a versatile and, ultimately, employable multi-instrumentalist in the modern-day industry, encompassing everything from musical theatre to classical and pop. All manner of styles of music are embraced, with the focus on developing a breadth of knowledge that enables students to play anything placed on the stand in front of them, in an appropriate style.
Further information on multi-instrument woodwind performance
Bespoke performance classes enable students to perform to their peers on all their instruments in a supportive environment, no matter what the current stage of development on a particular instrument. Doubling Ensemble provides the opportunity to play with fellow multi-instrumentalists on all instruments.
Access to the expertise of the Woodwind Department’s other tutors is available for multi-instrumentalists, and many chose to take lessons with tutors from RWCMD’s thriving Jazz Department. Practical, hands-on experience is gained participating in the Musical Theatre Department’s productions. Participation in the full range of woodwind masterclasses, from visiting as well as resident tutors, Wind Reps, performance classes and College ensembles, as well as the RWCMD Saxophone Ensemble with Gerard McChrystal, is also an integral part.
The multi-instrument specialism is available from Year 2 of the BMus (Hons) Music, following an audition at the end of the previous academic year. From September 2023, the pathway will be available from Year 1 of the BMus (Hons) Music.
Access to aspects of the multi-instrument pathway are available to students offered a place for 2022 entrance as single-instrumentalists by negotiation with the Head of Woodwind Performance.
Multi-instrument performance is also available as an MMus or Postgraduate Diploma programme.