Greater Birmingham might sprawl but its city centre is surprisingly concise. One can easily walk from the beginning of Broad Street on the west side, past Symphony Hall, past the Town Hall, down the length of New Street and emerge on the east side of the Bullring Shopping Centre inside half an hour.
Eastside is where this journey begins. For those who continue to persevere along the rather unwelcoming Jennens Road for another few minutes will discover, on the right-hand side, a remarkable new building which is both practical and architecturally stimulating in equal measure.
Opened in 2017, the spectacular Royal Birmingham Conservatoire was the first new purpose-built music college in the United Kingdom for a generation. I was privileged to be RBC’s Principal from 2015 to 2020 and to witness first-hand the transformation in its fortunes. Not only did the Conservatoire move from its former cramped building in the misnamed Paradise Circus to its state-of-the art new premises; it received Royal status, merged with the Birmingham School of Acting, rejuvenated its important outreach programme and its students won copious numbers of awards including BBC Young Musician of the Year 2018.
The new building certainly played its part. With five performing spaces, including the magnificent and acoustically acclaimed Bradshaw Hall, seven recording studios and more than one hundred teaching and rehearsal rooms, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has every facility that a present-day music student could need. Its light and airy atrium is a marvel which helps to create the spirit of togetherness amongst professors and students that has proved such a key to its recent successes.
Bradshaw Hall has already become a firm favourite of both BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM and is a chosen venue for major recording companies impressed not only by its acoustics but also by its absolute silence and its adaptability. With a building which is the envy of many other music colleges and the new HS2 terminus arriving literally on its doorstep the Conservatoire’s future is bright indeed.
... a remarkable new building which is both practical and architecturally stimulating in equal measure.