NEXT - credit Upstream Photography


Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire have joined forces to offer a new and unique 1-year training programme for music students and professional musicians looking for a career as performers of contemporary music.

Download the Open Call (this webpage) as PDF
Download the application form
Download the suggested repertoire list for 2018-18 as PDF

During this programme you will:

  • Work alongside world-famous composers and performers;
  • Meet key people on the international contemporary music scene;
  • Perform side by side with BCMG musicians in high-profile concerts;
  • Build your own ensemble and present concerts with fellow participants.

By the end of the programme you will have acquired:

  • In-depth knowledge of contemporary music from the second half of the 20th century to the present day, including its aesthetics and techniques;
  • Confidence in programming, promoting and presenting new music to the public;
  • Core skills for a successful professional career in contemporary music performance.

At the end of the programme participants will receive a joint official certificate from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and BCMG.

About the programme:

NEXT Music offers you an unprecedented opportunity to become a successful contemporary music performer. In a year of intensive training you will learn to perform some of the most inspiring and challenging works written in the last 70 years. You will receive coaching and one-to-one teaching sessions from BCMG players and world famous soloists. You will have many opportunities to perform, including side by side concerts with BCMG, and you will work directly with the world’s leading composers on the interpretation of their music.

Classes in contemporary music history and analysis, instrumental techniques and digital technologies will complement your studies, while regular lectures from artistic directors, publishers and other invited guests from the music industry will equip you with the necessary skills to present and promote new music to different audiences.

You will gain precious insights on how to run a contemporary music organisation from project/concert management to fundraising and marketing, and you will have the opportunity to take part in BCMG’s Learning Programme and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s community-based activities, thus developing another essential aspect of being a professional musician today.


Royal Birmingham Conservatoire applicants:
Undergraduate students starting Year 4 of their BMus course in September 2018.
Postgraduate students starting Year 1 or 2 of their MMus/PgDip/APD/PhD course in September 2018.

Other applicants:
Postgraduate students at other UK and European music institutions and recently graduated musicians.

The programme is open to:

  • Instrumental performers (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano, harp, violin, viola, cello, double-bass)
  • Live electronics performer (one)
  • Conductor (one)


The cost of the programme is almost entirely subsidised by our main funders. The programme is free for participants who are also Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students, while other participants will be expected to pay a fee of £1,500 to access Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s facilities and NEXT activities. Means-tested bursaries are also available.


To apply please download and complete the application form here.

Applications should be submitted to BCMG via email to by Monday 25 June, 2018. You will receive an email confirming receipt of your application within 2-3 business days.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to live solo auditions that will take place on Monday 9 July and Friday 13 July at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

There are no application fees. Reimbursement of travel costs to attend the auditions will not be available.

Schedule of Activity 2018-2019:

2018/19 activities will be centered around the following periods:

20 September Welcome event
4 – 12 October
3 November Visit to University of Cambridge Faculty of Music
5 – 9 November Alexandra Greffin-Klein, violin
11 – 18 November Oliver Knussen
3 – 9 December Brian Ferneyhough, Arditti Quartet, Irvine Arditti
21 – 25 January
11 – 15 February
10 – 21 March Rebecca Saunders; Wu Wei, Sheng
30 April – 3 May
13 – 17 May
10 – 14 June

What you can expect in more detail:

Individual teaching:
Participants will receive up to 15 hours of one-to-one teaching from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire faculty/BCMG musicians focused on the performance of contemporary music. These core hours will be supplemented by additional individual and group sessions to address specific needs of individual students or performance projects.

Participants will receive specialised coaching on ensemble performance from BCMG musicians and international guest artists, and will have the opportunity to work with leading composers on the performance of their music.

Lectures and masterclasses:
A wide variety of lectures and masterclasses will be provided as part of the programme, covering the following areas: advanced instrumental techniques, music history, music analysis, music criticism, artistic programming, marketing and fundraising for contemporary music.

Performance opportunities:

Download the suggested repertoire list for 2018-18 as PDF

Solo: each participant will be required to give at least one solo performance during the course of the year. Participants will be responsible for the planning, promotion, and execution of these solo performances.

Chamber Ensemble: two chamber ensemble performances will be held throughout the year. As with solo performances, participants will be fully engaged in their planning, promotion, and execution. When possible, composers will take part in the performance projects.

BCMG Side-by-Side: as part of the programme participants will have the opportunity to take part in BCMG concerts at high-profile venues. A modest remuneration will be provided to participants performing in the Side-by-Side concerts.

About Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG)

BCMG is recognised as a world-leading new music ensemble, acclaimed internationally for its excellent performances, ambitious commissions and high-quality learning programme. Since our foundation in 1987, we have:

  • Reached more than 10 million people;
  • Given more than 500 concerts in over 190 venues;
  • Performed across the UK and in Europe, Mexico, India and the USA; and
  • Commissioned and premiered over 175 new works helping to launch the careers of many leading composers mainly through our renowned Sound Investment scheme.

BCMG’s Learning & Participation programme runs throughout the year in schools and in our home the CBSO Centre, Example projects include: Music Maze for 8-11 year olds which use contemporary repertoire as the stimulus for children’s own composing; Creative Composing Lab in which young people age 14-18 compose for BCMG musicians; and family concerts which present contemporary music in imaginative and interactive ways.

About Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, is a world class institution providing exceptional training for the musicians, actors, stage managers and performers of the future. Our outstanding facilities attract the best and brightest students to Birmingham, along with internationally renowned performers and teachers. With limitless collaboration opportunities for staff and students, the Conservatoire is a stimulating environment with an international reputation which celebrates diversity.

This project is made possible through the support of our key funder Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.