Friday, July 03, 2015

Simon Lepper Talks About the Accompanying Program at The Royal College of Music

Over the last few months, I've been in correspondence with Simon Lepper, one of Britain's top accompanists. He was recently featured on a CPB article on what it takes to be an accompanist and why the British are so awesome at it, and reached out regarding a possible profile of the accompanying program at London's Royal College of Music, which he coordinates. Simon is a recipient of the Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons Awards, and has an incredibly active musical career, including serving as official accompanist of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. If you would like to contact Simon regarding the RCM's accompanying program, you can find a contact link on his website. (A note for all you Torontophiles: the "RCM" moniker in this article refers to the Royal College of Music in London, not the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.)  --CF

The Royal College of Music in London is uniquely situated opposite the Royal Albert Hall in the heart of Kensington’s museum district. The 2-year Masters piano accompaniment course at the RCM equips our students with the skills to give them the best possible chance of a long and fulfilling career as a musician after graduation.

There is a great tradition of British accompanists stretching back to Gerald Moore and beyond. At the RCM, we are proud to have had many of the internationally famous collaborative pianists train and teach here including Geoffrey Parsons, Julius Drake, Malcolm Martineau and, more recently, Gary Matthewman.

The course balances teaching in the art of song accompaniment with lessons in instrumental accompaniment. These two areas are taught in group-lessons by internationally renowned song pianist, Roger Vignoles, and in one-to-one lessons with a professor of your choice. We offer additional classes in “accompaniment skills”. These include the “art of vocal coaching” through to continuo and orchestral piano playing, quick learning and an “introduction to conducting”. A close relationship with the vocal department allows our postgraduate accompanists to play for language classes and opera scenes. This provides invaluable training should a student want to develop a career as a repetiteur or opera conductor. For those students with a greater interest in chamber music the RCM provides extra tuition from any professor chosen by a registered chamber music group.

Each year we take only a small number of accompanists on to the course. This allows for our piano accompaniment students to have a greater choice of instrumentalists and singers with whom to collaborate at the RCM. Many of these musical relationships forged whilst at the RCM will continue on into a professional working life. The students are encouraged to play for singers and instrumentalist’s lessons as well as the many internal and external competitions. Recent student successes have included those in the Maggie Teyte Prize, Royal Overseas League Prize and Kathleen Ferrier Award.

I would encourage those interested in studying piano accompaniment at the RCM to take a look at the website. Please do write to any professor you might be interested in studying with and, if you have time, arrange a consultation lesson. The RCM experience is a rich and fulfilling one but don’t just take my word for it - feel free to get in touch with a former piano accompaniment student, Ian Tindale (ian [at] iantindale dot com). He’ll tell you exactly what it’s like from a student’s perspective.

Hope to see you at the auditions in December!

Simon Lepper
Professor of piano accompaniment and co-ordinator for the RCM piano accompaniment course.

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