Develop a confident and distinctive personal voice through specialist training covering the full range of compositional techniques and approaches, while immersing yourself in opportunities to perform, record, gain hands-on industry experience and collaborate across the disciplines.  

Why study composition at RWCMD?

  • Our small, supportive department means your training can be tailored to your individual needs, supporting and inspiring you to find your personal creative identity.
  • At the heart of the training is intensive one-to-one tuition, which covers creating music through technology, and working with traditional ‘notated’ music.
  • You’ll get formal and informal hands-on experience both within the College and in the real world of the creative industries, all with the support of the composition staff.
  • You’ll have opportunities to experience some of the most prestigious musical organisations in Wales, including Tŷ Cerdd (Music House Wales), BBC National Orchestra of Wales (whose recording studios are one of the largest dedicated recording facilities outside Abbey Road in London), as well as Welsh National Opera and Sinfonia Cymru.
  • Composition with electronics is just as important as instrumental composition. We don’t exclude any compositional technique or approach, and you’ll be encouraged to find your own creative style with the support of your highly specialised team of tutors.
  • Students often create work for fully immersive audio-visual installations, live performances for instrumentalists, and electronic and interactive software instruments, as well as the more traditional mediums such as dance and opera.
  • Collaborative partnerships are a key element of the course, both within College and across the industry.
  • Each member of staff has their own area of expertise, offering individual training and classes in all compositional approaches and techniques, including composing for other media, such as film and TV, dance, theatre and games as well as the more traditional areas like concerts, operas and installations.

Exploring all areas of composition

Nothing is off limits. While we know you’ll take your training very seriously, we also encourage you to remain open to all the ways you can develop and grow as an artist: by challenging your ideas of aesthetics and inspiration, exploring fresh outlets for your work and improving how you communicate about your music.

Collaboration across RWCMD

You’ll get regular opportunities to collaborate and co-create with your fellow composers, drawing on each other’s strengths to create something distinctive. We have close links with other music departments, for example jazz and percussion, and can help to connect you with other students across College so you can showcase your work.

Our drama productions regularly ask for student composers, giving you hands-on experience working with directors, designers, actors, stage crews and lighting designers.

You’re also actively encouraged to work with your colleagues, for example in the College’s regular student-led arts company REPCo programme where students come together to produce and perform their own projects, or in collaborative group theatre projects like The Flying Bedroom

Collaboration outside College

We have personal connections with many creative artists of all kinds, including film schools, artists, poets, dancers, post-production sound facilities, games companies, production music libraries, sample pack developers, composer agents, publishers, designers and opera directors. Regular opportunities are scheduled to study the work of selected composers, to discuss their work, to try out sketches and improvisations, and to meet them in person, online and face to face.

Collaborating with organisations from other fields

We’ve formed strong partnerships with professional music bodies and organisations operating in other disciplines such as dance, theatre, recording and editing studios, film and TV companies, art galleries, and other curated venues. This gives you opportunities to attend rehearsals and performances, recordings and film sets to observe the process of art taking shape. These experiences will also help you to build valuable relationships with other practitioners and learn how to confidently navigate professional creative environments.

Atmospheres: New Writing Festival

Each May, the College’s annual Atmospheres new music festival gives our final year students their chance to showcase their eclectic mix of creative work in a series of tightly packed world premieres.

This weekend of events, with work by the next generation of composers, captures the College’s spirit of enterprise, collaboration and creativity, with innovation at the heart of the festival. 

Led by a world-renowned composer, teacher and researcher

John Hardy, Head of Composition, is a Bafta Cymru award-winning international composer and collaborator who has worked in film, opera and theatre across the globe. 

His commissions include substantial works for Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Westminster Abbey, BBC Singers, London Brass as well as work for BBC TV including the programmes Hinterland and Hidden.

He’s also worked with the Institute of Contemporary Arts, DV8/National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, National Theatre Wales, Brith Gof and Test Dept, and as part of many festivals and worldwide tours.

John and the composers at his company John Hardy Music hold six BAFTA Cymru awards, plus five further nominations, for their film and TV scores. John is interested in exploring ways for younger artists to prepare themselves for a lifetime of rewarding and sustainable creativity and collaboration.

His approach as head of department is to guide every student in developing their creativity in ways that are personal to them, an ethos that has fostered all sorts of collaborative and professional work with his current and former students.

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