Composition

Composition

We are still accepting applications for the BMus (Hons) Music (for the vocal, instrumental & composition pathways) and BMus (Hons) Jazz courses. Places are subject to availability. Please get in touch with our Admissions Team before submitting an application.

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.

  • Find out more about RWCMD
    • Our thriving, multicultural institution welcomes 800 students from more than 40 countries. You’ll train side-by-side with other instrumentalists, actors, singers, composers and performance designers and will work with them on projects throughout the year.  
    • Collaboration forms a huge part of what we do, allowing you to immerse yourself in new experiences with a broad range of disciplines and skills from across the college. Our unique student-led company REPCo, encourages students to work together to be bold, imaginative and entrepreneurial.
    • Our industry partnerships provide real-world, enhanced learning experiences with leading arts organisations and professional musicians, also offering you opportunities to build your future professional networks.
    • RWCMD is a vibrant arts centre staging 500 performances a year (many of which are free) which are a combination of world-leading artists and student work, often side by side. Regular major events at RWCMD include BBC Young Musician of the Year, and BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and standalone events such as the World Harp Congress in July 2022. 
    • The College is the first UK conservatoire to achieve a gold standard level of quality assurance across Music, Drama and Under 18s in the recent international MusiQuE, Music Quality Enhancement review. Reviewers were particularly impressed with the College's approach to the individual student experience, multidisciplinary collaboration, and overall ambition, citing RWCMD as a shining example of best practice across European conservatoires, and reflecting the College's exceptional people and unique community. 
    • As the world’s only Steinway-exclusive conservatoire the College now has a world-leading fleet of pianos, and every acoustic piano at the College is a Steinway.
    • We fundamentally believe in the power of music to transform and enrich society, developing skills in teaching, coaching and co-creating projects to create musicians of the future who will make an impact as performers, teachers and enablers within the broader community. Fundamental questions - ‘How can we shape the industry of the future’, ‘How can we use art to make a difference’ - help us to produce musicians who are truly relevant to a 21st Century world.
    • You’ll practice, study and perform in a beautiful, inspiring setting, bordering Bute Park, one of the largest green spaces in the city. We have a chamber music hall with extraordinary acoustics, a glass-lined foyer and performance space, the Richard Burton Theatre, as well as state-of-the-art studios and rehearsal spaces.
    • Our campus is right in the centre of Cardiff, the UK’s first Music City, and the thriving, compact capital of Wales, which is only two hours by train to central London. 
    • Cardiff was named as the most cost-effective city in the UK for students, according to the NatWest Student Living Index 2022.

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