Guildhall School of Music and Drama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Guildhall School of Music)
Jump to: navigation, search
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Barbican Entrance
The main entrance to Guildhall at the Barbican Estate
Established 27 September 1880 (merged with the Barbican Centre building in 1977)
Type Drama school and Music school
Principal Professor Barry Ife
Students 875[1]
Location City of London, England, United Kingdom
Affiliations City University, London[2]

Guildhall School of Music and Drama is an independent music and dramatic arts school which was founded in 1880 in London, England. Students can pursue courses in Music, Opera, Drama and Technical Theatre Arts. The modern Guildhall School is distinctive in being the only major European conservatoire which is both a music school and a drama school, and one which is pre-eminent in technical theatre, professional development and music therapy. A thriving Junior Guildhall, the recent addition of the Centre for Young Musicians and a range of annual summer schools further complement the outstanding opportunities available. Long recognised as a centre of excellence, the School has been twice-honoured by consecutive Queen’s Anniversary Prizes.[3]

The Guildhall School is a lively friendly community of musicians, actors, stage managers and theatre technicians, with an unrivalled reputation for excellence across the wide range of courses on offer. You can be sure of the highest standards of teaching in all disciplines, along with innovative programmes that constantly push the boundaries of performance and technical education. The reputation of the teaching and increasingly the research across all the disciplines in the School is unrivalled. Students experience working in a professional context to professional standards with an exemplary pool of outstanding artists who work with us as directors, conductors, coaches and tutors. The School's graduates consistently succeed at the highest levels of their chosen profession.[4]

The School currently numbers almost 900 students on its roll call, approximately 700 of whom are undergraduate and postgraduate music students and 175 on the Acting and Technical Theatre programmes. In any given year, about 40% of the students are from outside the UK, typically representing over 50 nationalities.[5]

The current chairman of Guildhall is David Andrew Graves (Alderman), elected a governor in 2009 he quickly excelled to deputy of the board to chairman by 2012. Guildhall’s principle is Professor Barry Ife. He has made the Guildhall School the UK’s single largest provider of music education to under 18s by incorporating the Centre for Young Musicians (CYM) and creating new music ‘hubs’ in Norfolk and Somerset; he has achieved recognition for Guildhall’s music outreach and opera programmes through two Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (2005 and 2007); and he has realised the School’s long-held ambition to build additional facilities at Milton Court (opened September 2013), including state-of-the-art performance venues, rehearsal and teaching spaces.[6]

Most recently, Professor Ife led the Guildhall School’s application for Taught Degree-Awarding Powers, which were granted by the Privy Council in April 2014.[7]

The Guildhall School is the lead institution for the Innovative Conservatoire project.



The Guildhall School of Music first opened its doors on 27 September 1880, housed in a disused warehouse in the City. With 62 part-time students, it was the first municipal music college in Great Britain. The School quickly outgrew its first home, however, and in 1887 it moved to new premises in John Carpenter Street in a complex of educational buildings built by the Corporation of London to house it and the City's two public schools.

The new building was completed by 9 December 1886 and the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Reginald Hanson attended the opening ceremony. Teaching continued under the first Principal of the School, Thomas Henry Weist Hill and his team of 90 professors.

Guildhall School inside the Barbican Estate

The new site, designed by architect Sir Horace Jones, comprised a Common Room for Professors and 45 studios, each surrounded by a 1 one foot thick layer of concrete to 'deaden the sound'. Each room contained both a grand piano and an upright piano. Additionally, there was an Organ room and a 'Practice' room, in reality a small concert hall which was used for orchestral and choir rehearsals. The 'Practice' room was also the venue for the fortnightly School concerts

Initially, all tuition was on a part-time basis, but full-time courses were introduced by public request in 1920. Departments of Speech, Voice and Acting were added and by 1935 the School had added "and Drama" to its title.


The School moved to its present premises in the heart of the City of London's Barbican Centre in 1977 and continues to be owned, funded and administered by the City of London.

In 1993 the Corporation of London leased a nearby courtyard of buildings that in the 18th century had been the centre of Samuel Whitbread's first brewery, and renovated and converted this to provide the School with its Hall of Residence, Sundial Court. About three minutes' walk from the School, Sundial Court offers self-catering single-room accommodation for 178 students.

In 2001 the Secretary of State, Baroness Blackstone, announced that the Barbican Centre, including the Guildhall School, was to be Grade II listed.

The School currently numbers over 800 students on its roll call, approximately 700 of whom are undergraduate and postgraduate music students. At the present time, 135 are studying on the Acting and Technical Theatre programmes. In any given year, about 40% of the students are from outside the UK typically representing over 40 nationalities.

The School is a member of Conservatoires UK, of Drama UK and of the European Association of Conservatoires. It also recently formed a creative alliance with its neighbours the Barbican Centre and the London Symphony Orchestra to create the world’s leading centre for performance, training and education in the performing and visual arts.

Present day[edit]

In 2005 the School was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for its unrivalled development and outreach programme, Guildhall Connect, and in 2007 it won a further Queen's Anniversary Prize in recognition of the work of the Opera Programme over the last two decades. The School was rated No. 1 specialist institution in the UK in the Guardian University Guide 2013 and 2014.

Logo until 2014

The most significant investment in the Guildhall School’s future came to fruition via the £90 million redevelopment of the neighbouring Milton Court site. The new building, which opened in autumn 2013, houses three new performance spaces: a concert hall (608 seats), a theatre (223 seats) and a studio theatre (up to 128 seats) in addition to drama teaching and administration spaces.[8]

The school offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs[9] as well as the Junior Guildhall, a Saturday school serving students from 4 to 18 years of age.[10] The school's outreach activities won the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2005. The school was awarded a further Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2007 in recognition of the outstanding achievements and work of the Opera Programme.[11]

The school's performance facilities include a 308-seat drama and opera theatre, concert hall, lecture/recital hall and a small studio theatre. In addition, students of the school regularly perform in other London venues, including the Barbican Centre, the Bridewell Theatre (off Fleet Street), the Soho Theatre, the Royal Court and the Swan (Stratford).

In August 2014 The Guildhall had a logo change, to a more minimalist modern style. It was changed due to the school feeling that it needed something to reflect the types of teachings going on there. As they have the most up to date and modernised drama curriculum in the Conference of Drama Schools.


The Guildhall offers Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses in both Music and Drama, summer and holiday courses in both, as well as a junior program for students from the age of four.


Guildhall’s programmes are highly regarded in the acting profession for the thoroughness of their audition processes and the passion, quality and rigour of the teaching. We are also renowned for our integration of craft training, the care and attention we give to individual student development and the strong ensemble ethic shared by our staff and students.

The main programmes are the BA Honours in Acting and the MA in Acting. Each has a distinguished list of graduates, especially from recent years. Both programmes are three years, full-time. The MA is specifically designed for students who already hold an undergraduate degree and want a full, professional training in acting. They work alongside students on the BA Acting programme, with additional assignments appropriate to a Masters programme.

In addition, the MA in Training Actors (Voice) or (Movement) is available. This is a two-year, full-time programme designed to train a small cohort of voice and movement teachers to work in the acting profession.

Guildhall School has excellent performance facilities. Productions take place in our three distinctive theatres: Silk Street, a large versatile space; Milton Court, a proscenium arch theatre; and the intimate Studio Theatre. An exciting mix of modern and traditional performance spaces for our students to explore.

The Department also runs two Drama Summer Schools: ‘Acting in Shakespeare and Contemporary Theatre’ and ‘Acting in Musical Theatre’. Each course is three weeks in duration.

In keeping with our collaborative ethos, Guildhall is a partner in École des Écoles, a confederation of major European drama schools. As part of our commitment to this partnership, over the years we have co-organised a number of international workshops throughout Europe.

Our approach also involves breaking down traditional boundaries and challenging convention, giving you the chance to collaborate with students from other art forms. If you join us as an undergraduate, you will work with students on the Music and Technical Theatre programmes during the first-year workshop project. And each year, our facilities are handed over to students for an entire day of informal showcases as part of the annual Guildhall Festival. On this day, students from all disciplines come together to display their creative talents.[12]



In the undergraduate programme, at least two-thirds of the credit of each year is focused on Principal Study. You will have at least 30 individual lessons a year. In addition, each department arranges instrument-specific training: song, language and movement classes for singers, Bach and sonata classes for string players, keyboard experience and duo classes for pianists, compositional techniques and workshops for composers/electronic musicians, and a wide range of solo and ensemble work in the wind and percussion department such as percussion ensemble, horn club and recorder consort.

Performance is central to the programme for everyone.


The Guildhall School offers one of the world’s most innovative packages of postgraduate study. Qualifications available include: Performance Pathway The Performance Pathway offers the following Professional Specialisms:

Strings, Wind, Brass and Percussion Players: Advanced Instrumental Studies, Chamber Music and Orchestral Artistry in association with the LSO.

• Keyboard Players: Advanced Instrumental Studies, Chamber Music and courses for Accompanists and Repetiteurs

• Singers: Vocal Studies and Opera

• Historical Performance and Jazz musicians: specific courses tailored to each area of specialist need

Leadership Pathway The Leadership students follow an innovative programme building on the pioneering work of the School in ensemble and creative activity.

Composition Pathway Composers follow a programme which includes individual lessons, classes and opportunities for live performance of their compositions and projects outside the School. Music Therapy Aspiring Music Therapists: an intensive package of clinical, theoretical and practical activity.

Opera Making & Writing Composers and writers focus on the creation of new opera, in association with the Royal Opera House.

Artist Diploma A highly sought-after post-Master's programme for musicians of the highest calibre who are set to embark on an international career.

MPhil/DMus or MPhil/PhD Composers and performers follow a unique and distinctive doctoral programme exploring their own creative research by taking advantage of the School’s performing resource and well-established external partnerships.

Audition Process[edit]


The application process for the BA (Hons) and MA Acting Programmes involves a three-stage audition: the First Round Audition, the Second Round Audition and the Final Recall Audition. You must pass each stage in order to proceed to the next.

All auditions are performed in person at the School; we do not accept recordings or arrange Skype auditions.

For candidates auditioning in New York, the second round audition will take place on the same day as the first round audition.

You should prepare three contrasting dramatic pieces of your own choice:

One must be in verse (blank or rhymed) from a play by Shakespeare or another Jacobean playwright; One from a modern play written after 1956; One should be a contrasting piece from any period. No piece should last longer than two minutes.

In addition, you should also be prepared to sing a short unaccompanied song of your own choice. This is to assess your ability to perform and interpret a song rather than your singing ability.

First round auditions[edit]

The majority of first round auditions are held between October and May in London.

First round auditions are also held in Bristol and Newcastle.

For international applicants outside Europe, auditions are arranged to take place during the week prior to the Final Recall Auditions.

Second round auditions[edit]

The dates of these will be notified to candidates who successfully pass the first round auditions. All second round auditions take place in London and you should be prepared to spend a half day at the School.

Final recall auditions[edit]

If you are successful at the second round audition you will be invited to return for a further two days.[13]

Final recall auditions include voice, movement and improvisation work (some of this in small groups), more detailed work on audition pieces and a short interview. You meet and work with many of the staff members who teach on the programme.

Audition Fees’’ (as of 2015)

London, Bristol, Newcastle £62

New York £82

The above fee is a complete fee; there are no additional fees should you progress through the audition stages.


To be considered for a place at Guildhall, you’ll be asked to take part in a performance audition.

Selection is strictly competitive within each instrument or voice. The decision of the School regarding the results of auditions must be considered final.

London auditions[edit]

Most auditions in London will be held at the School in November and throughout December. Exceptions to this are the auditions for Electronic Music (January/February), Leadership and the MA in Opera Making & Writing programme (both March). The first round of auditions for the MA in Music Therapy start in the beginning of December for applications which are submitted early, and auditions continue throughout the spring term. Auditions for MPhil/DMus/PhD and the Repetiteur course are held as appropriate.[14]

Overseas auditions[edit]

Auditions are also held overseas for International candidates.


Students perform regularly each year, as well as graduate performances at The Barbican Centre.[15] The Guildhall is known for attracting extremely talented guest directors such as Patsy Rodenburg and Iain Burnside.

Alumni and staff[edit]


Alumni of the Guildhall School of Music include Alison Balsom, Thomas Adès, Jacqueline du Pré, James Galway, Harry Gregson-Williams, Bryn Terfel, George Martin, Paul Lewis (pianist), Tasmin Little, Kate Royal and Howard Williams.

(List of winners of the Gold Medal)


Some notable alumni of the School of Drama include:

Acting alumni Orlando Bloom
Simon Russell Beale also studied at Guildhall.

Notable staff[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′10″N 0°05′32″W / 51.5194°N 0.0923°W / 51.5194; -0.0923