NEXT Musician 2018-19

James Heathcote studied on the ‘joint course’ at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music, graduating with a First from each institution in 2018. Whilst at the RNCM, he studied with the head of strings, Chris Hoyle. James is an experienced orchestral player and has played with orchestras including the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He led the RNCM’s cello section in a joint project with the Conservatoire de Paris, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

As a soloist, James has played a diverse range of repertoire, including Britten’s cello symphony with the Manchester University Symphony Orchestra and Xenakis’ Kottos in his final recital at the RNCM. James is also an experienced continuo player and has played continuo in works including Bach’s St John Passion under David Hill and Monteverdi’s Vespers under Graham Ross. He also conducts regularly and has conducted works including Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Ligeti’s Atmosphères and his own arrangement of Tallis Spem in Alium for 40 celli, which was recorded by the RNCM and Classic FM 

Why are you looking forward to taking part in NEXT?

I found out about this course through an email from my college (the RNCM). When I saw the list of composers we could work with and that there was an opportunity to play side-by-side with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group I applied immediately! Some of my earliest contact with new music was through the BCMG (specifically their recording of Thomas Adès’ works with Sir Simon Rattle) so the opportunity to work alongside them is incredibly exciting for me.

The course also gives the players on it the opportunity to design and organise their own performances with the guidance of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the BCMG. I’m really looking forward to having the freedom to create something truly unique and personalised that can really engage audiences with new music. Additionally, it’s great to have the chance to use the brand-new building at the Conservatoire – I went to the junior department at the old one so it will be nice to see what it is like!