Birmingham Conservatoire

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Birmingham Conservatoire
Birmingham Conservatoire.jpg
Adrian Boult Hall, the main concert hall of the school situated in Paradise Circus
Former names
Birmingham School of Music
Motto Inspiring Musicians since 1886
Type Public, School of Music
Established 1886 (as Birmingham School of Music)
1989 (as Birmingham Conservatoire)
President Sir Simon Rattle
Vice-president Peter Donohoe
Principal Julian Lloyd Webber
Administrative staff
Students 600
Location Birmingham, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom
52°28′45″N 1°54′20″W / 52.47917°N 1.90556°W / 52.47917; -1.90556Coordinates: 52°28′45″N 1°54′20″W / 52.47917°N 1.90556°W / 52.47917; -1.90556
Campus Urban
Affiliations Birmingham City University
Conservatoires UK, CUKAS, The European Association of Conservatoires
Birmingham Conservatoire
General information
Status Under construction
Type Conservatoire
Location Eastside
Address Jennens Road, Birmingham
Elevation 122 m (400 ft) AOD
Construction started August 2015
Completed 2017 (Planned)
Cost £57 million
Owner BCU
Height 26.4 metres (87 ft)
Technical details
Material Pale Buff Brick
Floor count 1 (UG) 5(OG)
Floor area 10,750 m2 (115,712 sq ft)
Lifts/elevators 3
Design and construction
Architecture firm Feilden Clegg Bradley
Services engineer Hoare Lea
Main contractor Galliford Try

Birmingham Conservatoire is an international conservatoire and a major concert venue in Birmingham, England. Its main performance space is the Adrian Boult Hall, and in addition it houses the 150-seat Recital Hall and the 100-seat Arena Foyer. 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. 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 merged to become the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media. It was founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music.

In addition to the Conservatoire, Birmingham is also home to two concert venues – Town Hall and Symphony Hall. As a result, Birmingham Conservatoire experiences a constant stream of distinguished visiting soloists and tutors. A 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).


Situated in Paradise Place, in the centre of Birmingham between Centenary Square and Chamberlain Square, Birmingham Conservatoire was founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music, which had been a department of, and stands on the original site of, the Birmingham and Midland Institute, since around 1859. The title '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.

As part of the Paradise Circus redevelopment the current site of the Conservatoire was subject to a compulsory purchase from 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. A new £46 million building will be located on Jennens Road adjacent to Millennium Point and Birmingham Ormiston Academy. Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios the building will contain teaching and performance space including a 500-seat concert hall to replace Adrian Boult Hall. Building work started in August 2015 with an intended opening date of summer 2017. Planning application 2014/08615/PA was submitted on 2 December 2014 and approved in February 2015, the existing building on Paradise Circus is due to be demolished as part of Phase I of the scheme.[1] In July 2015, Galliford Try were confirmed as principal contractor on a £46 million contract. The contract award was delayed as the original estimate of £27 to £35 million could not be met from bidding contractors.[2]

The Conservatoire[edit]

The surrounding area is known as Paradise Circus. Facilities include the 518-seat Adrian Boult Hall, the Recital Hall, six recording studios and a specialised music library with around 95,000 individual scores and parts and 10,000 sound recordings. Most tutors are active professional musicians and with nearly 200 visiting specialist tutors, there is approximately one member of staff for every two students. The Principal of the Conservatoire is Julian Lloyd Webber.

As of 2003, there were around 600 students enrolled in the Conservatoire's undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.[3] Teaching exists in a wide range of options including 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.[4]


  • 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, 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.[5]


Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Julian Lloyd Webber (2015–present)
  • David Saint (2011-2015)
  • George Caird (1993–2010)
  • Kevin Thompson (1988–1993)
  • Roy Wales (1987–1988)

Courses offered[edit]

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


The Conservatoire offers a variety of scholarships to undergraduates and postgraduate students. All candidates are automatically considered for financial assistance up to the value of full scholarships. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit (according to audition panel recommendation), with some specifically reserved to assist candidates in financial need or studying in specific areas.

Entrance Scholarships (UK/EU candidates)

A number of Entrance Scholarships are awarded each year to UK and European Union candidates on the recommendation of auditions panels.

Tuition Fees Scholarships (Non-EU candidates)

A number of part-tuition fees scholarships are awarded each year to overseas candidates. These scholarships are normally renewed for each subsequent year of a student’s course.

Corton Hyde Early Music Scholarships

Two scholarships are normally available to support talented students wishing to further their studies in Early Music. The Corton Hyde Continuo Scholarship supports a keyboard, cello/viola da gamba, or lute/theorbo player specialising in continuo, while the Corton Hyde Performance Practice Scholarship is open to a variety of musicians, including period violinists, vocalists, early oboe or flute players, recorder players and cellists. Both scholarships are worth £1,000 and may be renewed after one year by negotiation.

Denis Matthews Scholarships

Established in 1989 in memory of the distinguished pianist and scholar, the Denis Matthews Trust offers scholarships through competition to pianists who are studying at Birmingham Conservatoire, and an additional entrance scholarship of £1,000.

Ella Cheshire Scholarship (Soprano)

A scholarship of approximately £1,500 is awarded annually to a nominated postgraduate soprano candidate.

Leverhulme Trust Scholarship (UK candidates)

The Leverhulme Trust scholarships are awarded each year to excellent UK candidates on the recommendation of audition panels.

Symphony Hall Whitlock Organ Scholarship

This scholarship, funded by the Percy Whitlock Trust, offers a talented organ student access to the outstanding four-manual Klais organ in Symphony Hall. The Scholar plays a significant role in Symphony Hall’s education programme, presenting the organ to school groups and members of the public. The Scholarship also includes an annual recital. The successful candidate will be a highly competent player, with excellent presentational skills and the ability to capture the imagination of young people. The appointment is for one year, but may be renewed. The value of the scholarship is £1,000 per annum.

Weingarten Scholarships

These scholarships, established by Joseph and Lilian Weingarten, are available by competition to final-year undergraduate or postgraduate Piano, Violin or Voice students at the Conservatoire. Successful students undertake up to a year of postgraduate study at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. Another scholarship is available to enable a student to study the Kodály Method at the Kodály Institute at Kecskemét in Hungary.

Junior Department Scholarships

Applicants to the Junior Conservatoire may be eligible for a DCSF Music and Dance Award, or bursary funding from the Leverhulme Trust or the Wolfson Foundation. The Junior Conservatoire can provide advice and guidance to suitable candidates.


Birmingham Conservatoire has around 50 full-time members of staff that include active professional musicians, internationally renowned performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators.[7] In addition, nearly 200 highly acclaimed specialist tutors, musicians and scholars visit the Conservatoire to give master classes and guest lectures or to serve as visiting faculty members.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable staff (current and former)[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elkes, Neil (5 February 2015). "Planners hail handsome Birmingham Conservatoirel". Birmingham Post. Birmingham. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Galliford Try confirms £46m arts centre deall". Construction Enquirer. 5 February 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "Birmingham Conservatoire". The Independent. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "Junior Conservatoire: Tuition for Young Musicians". Birmingham Conservatoire. Birmingham City University. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "International Exchange Schemes". Birmingham Conservatoire. Birmingham City University. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Anderton, Keith (1989), "Bantock — Hebridean Symphony", sleevenotes, Naxos (8.555473) 
  7. ^ "Birmingham Conservatoire Staff". Birmingham Conservatoire. UK: Birmingham City University. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Birmingham Conservatoire : Birmingham Conservatoire appoints Gildas String Quartet as Junior Fellows". Retrieved 2016-01-16. 

External links[edit]