The Royal Northern College of Music is never one to shy away from creativity. The Manchester-based music college is fast gaining a reputation as one of the UK’s most thriving and vibrant performance venues, offering quality events each year from aspiring young musicians and touring artists.

But not everything takes place at the Oxford Road headquarters which, later this year, will unveil its newly transformed Concert Hall following a major £3 million refurbishment. Since 2007 the RNCM has made a name for itself in presenting exciting and innovative off-site projects at unusual places – from the stunning Victoria Baths and Whitworth Art Gallery (both in Manchester) to the iconic British Museum in the heart of London, numerous buildings have been transformed into imaginative performance spaces. This year is no exception.

NOMWEmbracing the centenary of the First World War, the RNCM is heading to Salford Quays for a three day residency at the Imperial War Museum North. Featuring more than 300 musicians, 70 pieces and 20 world premières, After the Silence: Music in the Shadow of War forms part of IWM North’s Reactions 14 season of events and will incorporate music from the past 100 years.

“The whole world is commemorating the First World War and I’m thrilled that we are collaborating with the Imperial War Museum North for Reactions 14,” says Michelle Castelletti, the RNCM’s artistic director. “The impressive off-site projects form such an important part of our calendar, and it’s exciting to be continuing the success of previous years.

IWM North is a wonderful building and I’m sure that audiences will be rapt by the transformation of its magnificent spaces into an audio-visual spectacle, and by the effects of the music resounding off its high walls.”

Creating what Castelletti describes as a “musical art gallery”, After the Silence brings every corner of the museum to life with sound and visuals, projections, interviews, film and, of course, music.

IWM“The idea was for this to be a complete contrast to a traditional concert experience, where the audience creates its own path around the building, travelling from time-zone to time-zone and from one experience to another,” she explains. “Every part of the museum, from the café upstairs to the multiple exhibition areas, will be filled with our musicians. And we have a programme so varied that there will definitely be something for everyone – whether you like jazz, ragtime, popular classical works or brand new contemporary pieces.”

With three hours of music to take in each night, the programme for After the Silence is as diverse as they come. For those who enjoy the familiar classics there’s Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin, Holts’ I Vow to Thee My Country, John Williams’ Hymn to the Fallen (from the film Saving Private Ryan), and Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, while the café takes a step back to the 1920s as a jazz band indulges in familiar soldier songs and the sounds of the early big bands. Sitting alongside 20 world premières, including a new work by established composer Martin Ellerby written specifically for the RNCM and based on the Changi Murals, are some of the iconic works of the 20th century such as Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, and Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale.

“Anyone who comes along can expect a fantastic all round experience,” says Castelletti. “It promises to be a dramatic yet poignant and heartfelt look at the soundscape of war through music and, in my opinion, will be a night that people will remember for a long time to come.”

By Helen Nugent


After the Silence: Music in the Shadow of War can be seen at IWM North between July 3 and July 5, 2014. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. For tickets, priced £10 (concessions available) call 0161 907 5555 or visit