A-Z of Higher Education Colleges

This Week: Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
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The Independent Online
Age: 25

History: Born 1973 from marriage of Royal Manchester College of Music and Northern School of Music. Former dates back to 1893: in Fifties it emerged as home of the Manchester group of composers. The Northern School of Music was founded in 1920.

Address: Oxford Road, one mile south of city centre.

Ambience: All on one site (at last!) in purpose-built premises in city's student heart between Manchester University and Manchester Met. Drab Sixties exterior belies inside performance areas - 450-seat concert hall and 620-seat opera theatre. New 1998 building houses state-of-the-art library. Lack of open spaces compensated for (a little) by roof garden. Friendly place. Everyone meets in large refectory.

Vital statistics: Youngest of four British royal schools of music but with moststudents - just over 600. Runs BMus Hons, validated by Manchester University, as well as a joint BA course with university, designed for those with outstanding academic and practical ability. Undergraduate courses are four years. Male/female ratio is 47:53. High proportion of overseas and mature students. Original home of thevBBC's Young Musician competition, which is returning for the semi-final and final later this year.

Added value: Some of the most up-to-date facilities for music students in Britain, including professionally-staffed opera theatre (with own workshop), concert hall, recital room, lecture theatre and practice rooms. College is an arts centre too so students keep up with the latest developments, and get the chance to be part-time ushers and bar tenders.

Easy to get into? For the BMus degree you need two A-levels and three GCSEs. All applicants auditioned.

Glittering alumni: Opera singers Jane Eaglen, Amanda Roocroft, Simon Keenlyside and John Tomlinson; pianists Peter Donohoe, Stephen Hough and Steven Osborne; the Brodsky and Sorrel String Quartets; composers Simon Holt and Sally Beamish; conductor Sian Edwards; opera director Graham Vick.

Transport links: Local buses. London 21/2 hours by train. Manchester Airport is 15 mins by train.

Who's the boss? Prof Edward Gregson, composer, writing for the Halle's forthcoming season.

Teaching: Excellent.

Research: Rated 5 (top grade) in assessment.

Financial health: In black.

Nightlife: Classical music events as it is a venue for visiting orchestras, dance companies and local amateur opera companies. Union has lively bar (cheap beer), with weekly entertainments, plus late-night parties and a New Year Ball.

Cheap to live in? Own hall of residence, 15 mins by bus, costs pounds 78 a week full board, pounds 54 self-catering. Private rents average pounds 40 a week.

Buzzword: Zingy! (vibrant)

Next week: Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama