New program will allow Princeton students to study at Royal College of Music

Dec. 13, 2007, 10:12 a.m.

Princeton University and the Royal College of Music in London have initiated a unique collaboration that will offer Princeton students the opportunity to spend the fall of their junior year at the Royal College of Music and the chance to return to London after graduation to complete a performance-oriented master's degree in one to two years.

The program is offered as part of Princeton's Study Abroad Program and will be available to students starting with the class of 2010. Qualified students will be invited to audition in Princeton for the Royal College of Music in March of their sophomore year. Accepted students will spend the following semester as full-time college of music students, learning with RCM professors and participating in the rich performance life of the college and London.

Subject to the results of an audition at the end of their junior term, students may be granted early admission to the Royal College of Music's master's program after graduation from Princeton. Students may possibly complete the master's in an intensive 12-month program.

The heads of the two institutions, Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman and Director of the Royal College Professor Colin Lawson, signed the agreement initiating the collaboration in November, after a delegation from the Royal College of Music visited Princeton in May to begin formalizing the plan.

"This program provides our students with an opportunity for rigorous professional training at the Royal College of Music that complements their academic work at Princeton, and it also provides them with a distinctive international experience in one of the world's most vibrant music capitals," Tilghman said.

The leaders of both institutions heralded the collaboration for providing the opportunity for professional training within an overall liberal arts framework.

"The Royal College of Music is committed to providing for all its students an inspirational learning experience that incorporates reflective professional training," Lawson said. "We are delighted to be working with Princeton University on this exciting new program that effectively explores the interrelationship of theory and practice, one of the College's strategic priorities."

The collaboration is part of Princeton's initiative to expand its programs in the creative and performing arts, and also supports the international goals outlined in a recent report by Tilghman and Provost Christopher L. Eisgruber. The report, titled "Princeton in the World," maps an international vision for the University and includes a plan to expand study abroad programs for undergraduates.

"The Royal College of Music is one the world's top music conservatories, and the experience gained for a young musician to spend time studying in London is priceless," said Michael Pratt, director of Princeton's Program in Musical Performance.

"This unique partnership represents a significant step at Princeton in providing advanced performers a means of continuing their musical growth while pursuing a strong liberal arts education, as well as an opportunity to begin to build a career in music," Pratt added.

Talks between Princeton and the Royal College of Music began in September 2006. Princeton's Pratt, Department of Music Chair Scott Burnham, Associate Professor of Music Wendy Heller and Visiting Lecturer in Music Martha Elliott Pratt developed the program with the Dean of the RCM Jeremy Cox, Director of Academic and Administrative Affairs Kevin Porter and Head of Graduate School Darla Crispin.

Cox noted how quickly staff from the two institutions developed a strong rapport based on a shared vision of what today's musicians need.

"This partnership offers the best of both the university and conservatory worlds to music students," Cox said. "The content of the Princeton and RCM programs is truly complementary because both are informed by the same educational goal -- teaching multi-skilled performers to navigate the rapidly changing international musical culture."

Currently celebrating its 125th anniversary, the Royal College of Music trains gifted musicians from all over the world for international careers. Its professors are musicians with worldwide reputations.

To apply for the program, students must be music majors or get permission from their department to study music for fall of their junior year. For more information, students may contact Pratt at or (609) 258-4259.