Ten years ago on 23 June 2011 actor and RWCMD Fellow Kate Burton unveiled the bronze bust of her father, the great Welsh actor Richard Burton, opening the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama’s world-class facilities.
The award-winning new buildings included the acoustically outstanding Dora Stoutzker Concert Hall, the Richard Burton Theatre, the Carne Foyer and The Linbury Gallery.
Today the College launches a year of celebration with ten selected events over the course of the next year, showcasing all that the College has achieved over the decade and signposting its ambition for the next ten years.
‘The College believes passionately in our sense of artistic community and our world-class new buildings have enabled us to welcome students, artists and audiences of all ages from around the world, uniting them in a shared and fundamental belief in making work of the highest quality and in the value of the arts and artists,’ said Principal Helena Gaunt.
‘While celebrating our achievements over the last ten years we are also focused on looking forwards and enhancing the potential of future generations of diverse young artists who can become the change-makers and lead the power of the arts into the future.’
Over the last ten years the College has become a ‘powerhouse of innovation and collaboration across the performing arts,’ (The Telegraph) discovering, attracting and nurturing talented students from around 50 countries, and acting as pipeline to the arts industry.
The new facilities have enabled the College, as the National Conservatoire of Wales, to become an integral part of its cultural landscape, creating partnerships with leading organisations and hosting key global industry events including World Stage Design in 2013 and World Harp Congress 2022 as well as regularly hosting BBC Young Musician of the Year and BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.
The new buildings were made possible through a mixture of public investment and private philanthropy. Sir Ian Stoutzker gifted and named The Dora Stoutzker Hall in memory of his mother and it remains Wales’s only purpose-built chamber recital hall, used by students for their classes, rehearsals and performances as well as for masterclasses and performances from world-leading artists.
‘My mother Dora represents all the mothers of Wales who scraped and saved to give their children a music education,’ said Sir Ian. ‘She was born in Tredegar and was a young piano teacher in the town, whose savings later gave me the gift of a musical education. She passed on to me both her love of music and of Wales.
The young students today refer to the Hall as ‘the Dora’ – my mother’s given name. I know she would have been so happy to see the pleasure it brings them today in their studies and aspirations.’
The bronze bust of Richard Burton, gifted to the College by Dame Elizabeth Taylor is displayed outside the new theatre named in his honour. The College’s unique repertory company, The Richard Burton Company, made up of undergraduate and postgraduate actors, stage managers, theatre designers and musical theatre performers is the biggest producer of theatre in Wales, creating around 22 productions per year.
Having these new spaces, including the spacious glass-lined Carne Foyer and the Linbury Gallery, have opened up the College’s work and resources, creating accessibility and developing its audience. Creating performances during the pandemic has focused attention on live streaming and developing the College’s digital capabilities, thereby allowing the College to reach an increasingly global audience.
As RWCMD celebrates the last ten years its gaze is firmly fixed on what lies ahead, with a particular focus on how it can further contribute to Wales’ global reputation as a creative nation, while making sure that the benefits it offers as the national conservatoire also reach widely and deeply across the whole country.
Later this year it will launch an ambitious new fundraising campaign to fund critical investment plans that will enable the College to widen access to its training, deepen connections to the industries, develop its impact, and fulfil its overall vision to change lives, connect and transform communities through the arts.
Ten Events to Celebrate Ten Years
RWCMD will present 10 events over the next year which celebrate the breadth of work and scale of ambition that the new buildings have brought to the College over the last decade:
- The Flying Bedroom: New children’s theatre production created by music, composition and puppetry students with performances and workshops in north Wales in July and September.
- AmserJazzTime: Showcasing the Carne Foyer as the location of Cardiff’s most popular jazz event, resuming on Friday 24 Sept and including special guest Dennis Rollins as part of his residency at the College on 22nd October.
- Celebrating the music of Errollyn Wallen: a focus on Errollyn’s work within student performances across the term, including a performance of Mighty River by RWCMD Symphony Orchestra on 4th November
- WNO Opera Gala: RWCMD’s annual concert in partnership with WNO the Dora Stoutzker concert hall conducted by Carlo Rizzi, featuring students from the David Seligman Opera School on 16th-17th November.
- A Song for Us: A song for Wales to be commissioned and performed across the country in Spring 2022 as part of a UK-wide project celebrating communities and the power of music to bring us together.
- Anthony & Kel Matsena: A collaboration between the Richard Burton Company and the Matsena brothers in a new production for the Spring 2022 season.
- NEW ‘22: RWCMD’s ground-breaking new writing festival, working with four writers and directors.
- Balance: Final year show for the Design for Performance course, showcasing set, costume, puppetry and sound design, 15-22 June.
- Musical Theatre production: Celebrating RWCMD’s partnership with Sherman Theatre and the expansion of the Musical Theatre course to include undergraduate students from September.
- World Harp Congress: Bringing the world to Wales and celebrating the College’s Welsh identity in July 22
These projects will be presented either digitally or in person as per Welsh Government guidance at the time.