Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

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Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Logo for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.png
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire 2017.jpg
General information
TypeSchool of Music and Acting
AddressJennens Road, Birmingham, B4, United Kingdom
Elevation122 m (400 ft) AOD
Construction startedAugust 2015
CompletedAugust 2017
OpenedSeptember 2017
Cost£57 million
OwnerBirmingham City University
Height26.4 metres (87 ft)
Technical details
MaterialPale Buff Brick
Floor count1 (UG) 5(OG)
Floor area10,350 m2 (111,406 sq ft)
Design and construction
Architecture firmFeilden Clegg Bradley
Services engineerHoare Lea
Main contractorGalliford Try
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Former names
Birmingham School of Music
Birmingham Conservatoire
MottoAchieve the Extraordinary
Established1886 (as Birmingham School of Music)
1989 (as Birmingham Conservatoire)
2017 (as Royal Birmingham Conservatoire)
PresidentSir Simon Rattle
Vice-presidentPeter Donohoe
PrincipalJulian Lloyd Webber
Administrative staff
AffiliationsBirmingham City University
Conservatoires UK
European Association of Conservatoires
Federation of Drama Schools

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a music school, drama school and concert venue in Birmingham, England. It provides professional education in music, acting and related disciplines up to postgraduate level,[1] and is a centre for scholarly research and doctorate-level study in areas such as performance practice, composition, musicology and music history.[2] It is the only one of the nine conservatoires in the United Kingdom that is also a faculty of a university, in this case Birmingham City University. It is a member of the Federation of Drama Schools.[3] and a founder member of Conservatoires UK.

The conservatoire houses a 500-seat concert hall and other performance spaces including a recital hall, organ studio and a dedicated jazz club. It was founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music, the first music school to be established in England outside London.[4] Birmingham is also home to two other concert venues: Town Hall and Symphony Hall.

Conservatoire education is heavily weighted towards practical learning and performance, and provides the opportunity for each student to use the specialist professional training on offer to develop a career in music. Students are able to take part in collaborations made available by links with the major concert venues in the city, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).


The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire was founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music, grouping together into a single entity the various musical education activities of the Birmingham and Midland Institute.[4] The institute had conducted informal musical instruction from its foundation in 1854, and its predecessor organisation the Birmingham Philosophical Institution had held music classes since 1800, but it was in 1859 that music was established as a formal part of the institute's curriculum.[5] In that year singing classes were begun which, after some initial struggles, by 1863 had 110 students and were performing regular concerts.[6] In 1876 a proposal was heard at the institute's council that further classes should be established on the model of the Leipzig Conservatoire, and that year the composer Alfred Gaul began teaching classes in the theory of music.[7] In 1882 instrumental classes were started, attracting 458 students on their first year, and a separate music section created within the institute.[8] This was established as the separate "School of Music" in 1886, with William Stockley as its first principal [9] The school's second principal Granville Bantock was recommended for the position by Edward Elgar

The name 'Birmingham Conservatoire' was adopted in 1989, with its undergraduate diploma and award (GBSM and ABSM) renamed from 'Graduate/Associate of the Birmingham School of Music' to 'Graduate/Associate of the Birmingham Schools of Music', to reflect the internal structure adopted of the Schools of Creative Studies, of Orchestral Studies, of Keyboard Studies, and of Vocal Studies. In 1995, the GBSM degree-equivalent diploma was redesigned and revalidated to become a full Bachelor of Music (BMus) degree. In 2008, as part of the university's reorganisation of faculties, it became a part of the Faculty of Performance, Media and English (PME), which has since merged to become the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.

As part of the Paradise Circus redevelopment the former site of the Conservatoire was subject to a compulsory purchase by Birmingham City Council. The Conservatoire received £29 million in compensation in a deal agreed in December 2013; this deal included £12.4 million of council expenditure. Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios the new building on Jennens Road contains teaching and performance space including a 500-seat concert hall to replace Adrian Boult Hall. Building work started in August 2015 and was completed in August 2017. Adrian Boult Hall was demolished in June 2016. The remaining building on Paradise Circus was demolished by April 2018 as part of Phase I of the scheme.[10] In July 2015, Galliford Try were confirmed as principal contractor on a £46 million contract.[11]

In 2017 the conservatoire merged with the Birmingham School of Acting, which had been founded as a drama school in 1936, bringing music and drama teaching together into a single organisation.[12] Alumni of the school include Nicol Williamson, Tom Lister, Catherine Tyldesley, Rachel Bright, Barbara Keogh, Luke Mably, James Bradshaw, Stephen Laughton, Jeffrey Holland, David Holt, Anna Brewster, Jimi Mistry, Helen George, Ainsley Howard and Nicholas Gledhill.

On 24 September 2017 the conservatoire was granted Royal status by Queen Elizabeth II.

The conservatoire[edit]

The great majority of the tutors at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire are active professional musicians. With nearly 250 visiting specialist tutors, there is approximately one member of staff for every two students. The Principal of the Conservatoire is Julian Lloyd Webber.

In 2003, there were around 600 students enrolled in the Conservatoire's undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.[13] Subjects include solo performance, composition, chamber music, orchestral playing, music technology and jazz. Students on the four-year BMus(Hons) are encouraged to spend time studying in Europe or the USA.

In their Junior Department, training for children aged 8 to 18 years takes place weekly on Saturdays during the local school term.[14]

The museum has a notable collection of musical instruments.[15]


The Bradshaw Hall
  • Brass
  • Chamber Music
  • Composition
  • Conducting (Choral)
  • Conducting (Orchestral)
  • Early music
  • Jazz
  • Keyboard
  • Music Technology
  • Percussion
  • Performing Ensembles
  • Strings
  • Vocal & Operatic
  • Woodwind


Conservatoire students perform regularly in the conservatoire's concert venues, and also nationally often at Symphony Hall Birmingham and Birmingham Town Hall and internationally under such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Sakari Oramo, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, Paul Spicer and Jeffrey Skidmore.

The conservatoire collaborates with other schools of music, colleges, academies and conservatoires worldwide, including participating in the Erasmus student and staff exchange programme.[16]

Courses offered[edit]

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire offers training from pre-college level (Junior Conservatoire) to PhD.



  • William Stockley (1886–1900)
  • Granville Bantock (1900–1934)
  • Allen Blackhall (1934–1945)
  • Christopher Edmunds (1945–1956)
  • (Management Committee) (1956–1957)
  • Sir Steuart Wilson (1957–1960)
  • Gordon Clinton (1960–1973)
  • John Bishop (1973–1975)
  • Louis Carus (1975–1987)
  • Roy Wales (1987–1989)
  • Kevin Thompson (1989–1993)
  • George Caird (1993-2010)
  • David Saint (2010-2015)
  • Julian Lloyd Webber (2015–2020)[17]



Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has around 80 full-time members of staff that include active professional musicians, performers, composers, conductors and scholars.[19] In addition, nearly 250 hspecialist tutors, musicians and scholars visit the conservatoire to give classes and guest lectures or to serve as visiting faculty members.

Notable current and former staff and visiting guest artists include:




  • The Bradshaw Hall, formerly known as The Concert Hall,[21] 500 seats
  • Recital Hall, 150 seats
  • Organ Studio, 100 seats
  • Eastside Jazz Club, 80 seats
  • Experimental Music Lab

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Courses". Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  2. ^ "Research - Clusters and Specialisms". Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  3. ^ Granger, Rachel. "Rapid Scoping Study on Leicester Drama School" (PDF). De Montfort University Leicester. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  4. ^ a b Smith 2011, p. 4.
  5. ^ Brock 1986, p. 1.
  6. ^ Brock 1986, pp. 1-2.
  7. ^ Brock 1986, p. 4.
  8. ^ Brock 1986, p. 6.
  9. ^ Brock 1986, p. 9.
  10. ^ Elkes, Neil (5 February 2015). "Planners hail handsome Birmingham Conservatoirel". Birmingham Post. Birmingham. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Galliford Try confirms £46m arts centre deall". Construction Enquirer. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  12. ^ Snow, Georgia (2017-03-01). "Birmingham School of Acting merges with Birmingham Conservatoire". The Stage. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  13. ^ "Birmingham Conservatoire". The Independent. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  14. ^ "Junior Conservatoire: Tuition for Young Musicians". Birmingham Conservatoire. Birmingham City University. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Musical Instruments Interface for Museums and Collections". MINIM-UK. Higher Education Funding Council for England. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  16. ^ "International Exchange Schemes". Birmingham Conservatoire. Birmingham City University. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Julian Lloyd Webber To Leave Royal Birmingham Conservatoire". Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  18. ^ Smith 2011, p. 11.
  19. ^ "Birmingham Conservatoire Staff". Birmingham Conservatoire. UK: Birmingham City University. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  20. ^ "Birmingham Conservatoire : Birmingham Conservatoire appoints Gildas String Quartet as Junior Fellows". Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  21. ^ "Conservatoire renames concert hall after £1m donation". Retrieved 2018-06-19.


  • Brock, David (1986). The Birmingham School of Music: its first century. Birmingham: City of Birmingham Polytechnic.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Smith, John D. (2011). "Celebrating 125 Years of Birmingham Conservatoire" (pdf). Birmingham Conservatoire. Retrieved 2017-10-18.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Morley, Christopher. Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, 2017, Elliott & Thompson

External links[edit]