The Reina Sofia School of Music is located in the heart of Madrid, next to the Royal Palace and the Royal Opera House. Now almost 20 years old, it has established itself as a centre of excellence for aspiring professional musicians. Ana Espada of the press department offers a look into the inner workings of one of Spain’s top music colleges.
How does your selection process work? Is there a quota to fill, and does this hold even if there are no suitable applicants?
The School is considered as one of the leading European schools for especially gifted students who wish to become professional musicians. It was founded in 1991 by Paloma O’Shea as a highly professional training centre with a double goal: supporting the development of young musicians and bringing music closer to society.
It offers Bachelor’s Degrees, Master’s Degrees and Private Degrees. To apply, the applicants must fill in the online form.
The admission process has two phases. The first round is the preselection: the Selection Committee evaluates the transcript of recordings and the audiovisual material sent in from each candidate, and selects those who pass to the next round. The second round is the auditions: selected applicants attend the School on the dates published for the audition of their chair of interest.
We don’t have a student quota to complete. The level to be admitted is very high. In the School’s auditions, the only criterion is the musical and artistic talent of the candidates. With an average acceptance rate of around 6%, the Reina Sofia School is among the most selective schools in Europe.
What’s the most important thing that students should come away from music college with? How different do you believe the varying career paths (solo player, chamber and orchestral musician) are, and how does your teaching reflect this?
Students have to leave a conservatoire with great skills to play in all three areas: as a soloist, a chamber musician and as a member of a symphony orchestra. Our school, by offering personalised training, brings together exceptional characteristics so that music professionals feel comfortable.
Do you maintain links with your ex-students? Who are your most famous alumni?
Our graduates maintain direct contact with the School. We have developed an exclusive programme for them where they enjoy various advantages and also meetings between students of different generations, creating a creative line of interaction and artistic collaboration between them, while fostering their role as ambassadors of the School around the world.
In 2016, the first meeting was held – the next is this coming June – in order to create a meeting and reunion space, as well as to weave a network of professionals to facilitate collaborative projects between those who were students and those who are students now.
Alumni also have a private channel on Facebook.
You can visit here.
The School’s success is its students’ success. Almost 750 Alumni, that represent 63 different nationalities, are developing their careers in 200 different cities over 41 countries.
Some of our Alumni are: Arcadi Volodos (piano), Sol Gabetta (cello), Celso Albelo (tenor), the Casals Quartet, Claudio Martínez-Mehner (piano), the Quiroga Quartet, Latica Honda-Rosenberg (violin), and Pablo Ferrández (cello).
How many opportunities do your students have to gain performance experience and/or contact with the profession whilst studying?
The School provides exceptional performing opportunities.
Learning on the stage is a key principle of the School’s ethos. For this purpose, the School organises more than 300 concerts a year. Students can therefore perform in a recital, as a soloist, in chamber music groups and be part of one of the School’s different orchestras. On average, each student performs 20 concerts a year, and thus quickly becomes used to performing in public.
The School has its own orchestras and ensembles that provide the ideal forum for students to acquire professional skills:
– Freixenet Symphony Orchestra (principal conductor: Andrés Orozco-Estrada)
– Freixenet Chamber Orchestra (principal conductor: Sir András Schiff)
– Camerata Viesgo, for baroque repertoire
– Sinfonietta, for contemporary music
These orchestras have been conducted by prestigious international conductors such as Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Colin Davis, Jordi Savall, Lorin Maazel, Jesús López Cobos, Zubin Mehta, Péter Eötvös, Juanjo Mena…
Do you encourage your students to participate at international competitions?
Of course, we encourage our students to participate in international competitions. Our teachers are internationally renowned leading figures who maintain direct contact and personalised training with all of them. When both parts consider that it’s good to attend a competition they prepare the mandatory repertoire with a lot of discipline.
Some of the competitions attended by our students are: Lipinski-Wieniawski Violin (Poland), International Flute Competition (China), International Keyboard Institute & Festival of NY (USA), Anton Rubinstein International Chamber Music Competition (Germany), and the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Russia), among others.