The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester is a British cultural landmark and one of the world's leading conservatories. The key to its future, however, may lie 10,000 kilometres away in the Far East. In its efforts to recruit talent from around the world and initiate musical collaborations that span the globe, the college's representatives have benefited from Finnair's fast connections to Asia. TexT by ChRistiAN Digby-FiRth PhoTos by RAMi hANAFi East & West strike a chord It's a long way from the architectural razzmatazz of Shanghai's Pudong skyline to the buzzing city of Manchester in the United Kingdom. But for teachers and students at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) home to more than 120 international students from over 50 countries distances appear to dissolve in melody. Having recently formed partnerships with Chinese institutions in order to connect with the region's top young talent, the conservatory takes pride in its international outlook. Western classical music in modern China is booming as dramatically as the rapidly emerging nation itself. An estimated 45 million Chinese children are currently learning the piano, with another 17 million studying the violin. No-one is entirely sure what has prompted this remarkable phenomenon, but as it is, some music professionals believe "the talent coming out of the Far East is exciting." that the youthful enthusiasm and raw talent of Chinese students could yet be the saviour of the classical tradition in the West. Whatever the reasons for this groundswell of talent, the RNCM is keen to recruit the world's most outstanding young musicians. "We would love to attract more Chinese students," says Wen Zhou Li, internationally renowned Tutor in Violin. "As musicians they work hard and are very gifted. We are proud of being able to help them develop their international careers." The exchange of musicianship works both ways, too, as Professor Malcolm Layfield, head of the School of Strings, is quick to point out. "There is a passionate dedication among Chinese students. So when I'm asked why I think it's so important to seek out excellent internaMARCH 2010 bLUE WiNgs 49
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