Behind the Scenes of the Orchestra Master Course

2 June 2023

Today, we are looking behind the scenes of our Masterspecialisation Orchestra Master. We followed Andreas (trumpet), Estela (violin), Laura (trombone) and Wimian (double bass) during the rehearsals of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances under the baton of Pablo González.

An ambitious student in the Master of Classical Music Programme will naturally want to gain as much practical experience as possible. That is the objective of the Orchestra Master, a unique Master’s specialisation that we offer in cooperation with our partner the Residentie Orkest (RO): Students who have been admitted to a Master’s course in Classical Music can audition for this course. If you are accepted, you will play full concert programmes with the RO and receive coaching from a member of the orchestra. The RO shares our wonderful home Amare with us, which is very convenient for our four Orchestra Master students. For rehearsals and concerts, they only need to go one floor down to the third floor, where the RO resides.

The Orchestra Master Programme is a popular specialisation to choose for as you have the opportunity to play in one of the top orchestras of the country and perform in the best concert halls of the Netherlands.

For Andreas, this programme was one of the reasons to come and study with us in The Hague: ‘In the first place, I chose to study here because of my teachers, with who I already had some lessons before coming here. However, the professional opportunities here were just as important for me. The Orchestra Master was the clearest example of a great professional opportunity at the Royal Conservatoire. My main goal is it to become a professional orchestral musician, and I saw that the Orchestra Master could help me gain experience and make connections in the professional field.’

Laura adds: ‘I had a couple of lessons with my teacher and I really liked his lessons, so I decided to choose the Royal Conservatoire. The possibility of doing the Orchestra Master was also very interesting to me. A friend of mine, who is an alumni of the Royal Conservatoire had done the Orchestra Master as well and told me about it. I wanted to gain more orchestral experience and be able to play in a professional environment, so I applied.’

I would undoubtedly encourage everyone to try the Orchestra Master if they are thinking about joining an orchestra as a career path. It has been a really enriching and helpful experience.

Double Bass player Wimian was excited to work and grow as a ‘team’ in her instrument section. She says: ‘It is an incredible opportunity to play with the RO. Every project I have played so far is a learning process and playing with the double bass section of the orchestra gives me a lot of motivation. I feel great!!! I always wanted to have this experience before starting to work in an orchestra position.´

Violinist Estela currently studies with Vera Beths. Her Orchestra Repertoire Teacher Janet Krause encouraged her to apply for the Orchestra Master. ‘Becoming an orchestra player is my dream, so the chance to learn all the secrets about the professional life in an orchestra as part of my Master Degree just seemed perfect! It has been really exciting and enjoyable to play with the orchestra. I felt comfortable from the very first minute and that is something really special. Besides all the concepts and tools I learnt for playing properly in orchestra, I found out that this is what I really want for my future.´

I highly recommend doing this master as you can experience how a real professional orchestra works and be more prepared for your future. This Orchestra Master helps you a lot in your professional career. You learn to be faster in rehearsals, you gain more repertoire for the future, you improve the way you feel the music and the way you interact with the other musicians in the orchestra.
I would recommend it. You have the opportunity to play in a professional orchestra, learn how it works and be able to play very nice orchestral music at this level. It has provided me with a lot of experience and necessary skills, as well as getting to meet other professional brass players in the Netherlands.

Despite the gap in age and experience, the students had no problems joining this group of professional musicians. Every one of them talks about a friendly and welcoming atmosphere amongst the musicians. ‘From the beginning I could already feel a good energy with the members of the orchestra’, Wimian tells us.

And Andreas says: ‘The atmosphere is friendly. Although the performance standard is high, I do not experience pressure from my colleagues and feel free to play. To sit on stage with a professional orchestra feels quite different from a youth orchestra or at the conservatoire. The orchestra is very experienced, so you feel that everything is going to be okay, no matter what happens.’

The Orchestra Master is a cooperation we already started before moving to Amare. By now, many former students of the Orchestra Master have become members of the RO and other professional orchestras in Europe. Besides the experience you gain, you also have the opportunity to build a professional network and find remplaçant jobs that often lead to permanent positions.

Our four students aim for joining a professional orchestra after their studies as well, maybe even the RO and this is why they all recommend new Master Students to consider applying for the Orchestra Master.

It is a perfect opportunity to gain valuable experience in the professional field. Next to this, it is super enjoyable to play with such an amazing orchestra. Also, you get paid a good fee, which is very welcome next to your studies. I have build more experience in a professional orchestra, making it already easier for me to adapt when playing with other orchestras. If there would come a job opening at the RO, I would definitely apply for the audition.

Are you interested to learn more about the Orchestra Master Course. Check out the study information and the website of the Residentie Orkest.