With its strong teaching tradition, the Plucked Instruments department of the Royal Conservatoire, Antwerp provides an inspiring learning environment for young guitarists and harpists, with technical mastery, individuality, and understanding of historical and contemporary performance practice at the core of the programme.
The development of your own professional profile lies at the heart of your study, and your own individuality, interests, talents and your personal vision as an artist remain central.
We will train you to become an entrepreneurial and imaginative creator. You will work on interdisciplinary collaborations with students from the Dance, Drama, and Visual Arts departments (amongst others) during the project week, “Common Ground”. You will participate in creative projects and stage your own creative project at the end of your study. You will create or participate in contemporary creations, such as during the interdisciplinary creative week, LAbO, which is a collaboration with deSingel and Champ d’Action. A sense of entrepreneurship will enrich your portfolio.
The guitar and harp programmes at the Royal Conservatoire, Antwerp produce professional musicians who combine excellence on their instruments, a broad artistic profile and the ability to adapt to a wide variety of employment situations in today’s world and the society of tomorrow.
The guitar programme is taught by a complementary team of teachers, each one a highly-trained professional with his or her own specialisations: from Classical to contemporary, from jazz guitar to electric guitar, from chamber music to practical harmony, from improvisation to accompaniment practice, and from musicologists specialized in historical practice to teachers in Belgian music academies. This ensures that all students will come into contact with a broad range of knowledge, styles, techniques, instruments and repertoire – a feature of our study programme which takes it way beyond traditional classical guitar lessons. The possibilities which present themselves in later professional life are explored in the broadest possible manner, allowing every student to chart his or her own career path.
The success of our teaching is attested to by the success of our alumni, who belong to the very top ranks of musicians in Belgium and beyond, such as the Four Aces Guitar Quartet, Teyata duo, Nico Couck, Jan De Preter, Peter Knockaert, Robert Denies, Stijn Denys, Jan Ceulemans, Daniel Dekens, Michel Verkempinck, Jan Van Outryve, Tom Van Eygen, Ralf Demandt, Mattie Archie, Toon Callier, An Volders, Jan Sanen, Stein Verrelst, Menno Buggenhout and Bart Venken.
At bachelor’s level, the focus is on intensive study of the instrument, and during these years, you will acquire an outstanding technical level and build up representative repertoire. The teachers will always seek to link your existing knowledge and skill on your principal instrument with general musical understanding and stylistically-responsibly performance practice. The master’s course offers you the possibility to search for your own repertoire, your own individual voice, approach and career path. Throughout the five year study programme, improvisation, practical harmony, and accompaniment are also offered.
While the guitar department is highly autonomous, you will nevertheless be given the chance during your study to work with others on larger projects. Alongside the weekly individual lessons on your principal instrument, the teachers will offer a number of performance initiatives which will directly stimulate you in terms of your artistic progression and which will prepare you even better for life as a professional musician. In addition to the interdisciplinary opportunities described above, these performance initiatives include participating in chamber music, playing in the guitar ensemble or in Ensemble XXI for contemporary music. Top international performers are regularly invited to give masterclasses, and in previous years, our students have worked with Alberto Mesirca, Joaquin Clerch-Diaz, Franz Halasz, Susanne Mebes, George Vasilev, and Michel Gillain (flamenco), amongst others.
All of this ensures that by the end of their study, our graduates are guitarists at a professional level who can actively position themselves within the broad artistic landscape, as concert guitarists, chamber musicians, teachers, or a combination of all of these.
The harp occupies an important place in the contemporary musical landscape; as a solo instrument, in chamber music and in symphony orchestras. The harp class of the Royal Conservatoire, Antwerp strives to give careful attention to all types of music in general, and to harp music in particular, in all its manifestations throughout music history to today. Harp students receive intensive training in traditional and contemporary orchestral and ensemble playing throughout the entire course of their study at bachelor’s and master’s level, and are guided by teachers who directly integrate their own (international) professional experience into their teaching.
At bachelor’s level, students are intensively trained to develop familiarity with the harp. The building up of repertoire and the required technique are cornerstones of this initial process.
In the harp literature study course which runs parallel, you will explore the various repertoire styles and the instruments and playing techniques which were available from the double pedal harp of 1810 onwards. You will build on this knowledge further by looking at repertoire up to and including contemporary repertoire, in which the function of the harp and harpist in the music world occupies a special place.
The master’s course offers you the possibility to delve deeper into a number of elements from your bachelor’s study. In consultation with your teacher, you will choose an individual study pathway according to your specific talents and interests. Repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries, which are particularly important centuries for the harp, and changing playing techniques will be thoroughly explored,
As well as the weekly one-on-one lessons for your principal instrument, your teacher will consistently and constructively offer you many performance initiatives which will directly stimulate your artistic evolution and which will directly or indirectly relate to and strengthen your training. You may participate in public concerts, for example (solo, chamber music, ensemble or orchestras), prime yourself for competitions (many of our students and alumni are prize-winners in international competitions), or take part in a placement in a famous ensemble or orchestra. Lectures, masterclasses and guest-lectures given by top international performers are regularly organised, with recent invitees being Isabelle Perrin, Maria Louisa Rayan, Anneleen Lenaerts and Sylvain Blassel.
In the current professional musical conditions, specialisation combined with multi-functionality and flexible employability are crucial parameters. A master’s degree in harp from the Royal Conservatoire, Antwerp will give you the intensive training you require to achieve this, so that you can take your place in all confidence in the broad musical landscape of today.