London College of Music’s suite of LCM Diplomas have just been revised for 2019, with certification beginning this Spring, and with a crossover during which candidates can continue to use the 2011 syllabus until the end of 2019.
Alongside the Diploma syllabus revision, a new anthology of solo piano repertoire has been published, called In Concert 2. This book is the sequel to last year’s In Concert, which I enthusiastically reviewed here.
In this review I will first consider the syllabus changes, link to the full syllabus for those interested, and then offer a more detailed review of In Concert 2.
LCM Music Diplomas Syllabus 2019
LCM offer both Performance and Teaching Diplomas for a wide range of instruments. For keyboard players this includes Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Electronic Organ, and Pipe Organ (but it would seem, sadly, not Harpsichord).
Diplomas come at four levels:
These broadly equate to ABRSM’s familiar diploma range, with the DipLCM on a par with the recently introduced ARSM Diploma followed by the progressive Associate, Licentiate and Fellowship diplomas.
Rather than pointlessly regurgitating the syllabus information, here’s the link to the two documents you will want to refer to if you are interested in taking an LCM Diploma:
Having studied these documents with considerable interest, my view is that they are comfortable equals with the alternatives offered by rival Exam Boards, and anyone considering taking a diploma would be wise to take a very close interest!
Any significant overall changes?
While not digging into every detail, it is worth taking a quick look at the most significant changes that will be implemented from this year.
First of all, the structure of the Performance Diploma has been revised. There are now three types of exam format available for the DipLCM, ALCM and LLCM; in addition to the standard diploma, the alternative options offered are the Recital and Concert diplomas.
- The standard Performance Diploma is made up of three elements: the Performance itself (worth 70%), a Discussion (15%) and Sight Reading (15%).
- The Recital Diploma is made up of two elements: here the Performance itself is worth 80% of the marks, while the candidate can choose between either the Discussion or Sight Reading component, worth 20%.
- The Concert Diploma consists solely of the Performance, worth 100%
This construct gives a flexible range of options which will undoubtedly appeal to candidates, but we must hope without detracting from any performer’s commitment to developing their sight reading ability or confidence discussing the music they perform.
Importantly, too, across all four diploma levels Programme Notes are now required. These progressively range in complexity of demand for the higher diplomas. Once again, please do read the syllabus carefully.
Another change, this time practical, is that candidates can no longer carry over any marks from previously approved exam components when repeating examinations; all components must be completed on re-examination.
A significant change for those taking the Teaching Diplomas: candidates are now required to perform one piece of Grade 7 standard or above for he Presentation & Demonstration and Performance component, chosen from the current LCM repertoire list for their instrument.
Finally, the Repertoire List has been fully updated.
And this brings us neatly to the In Concert series of publications, because those taking a piano performance DipLCM must perform a piece from In Concert. while those taking the ALCM and LLCM piano performance diplomas are required to include at least one piece from the new In Concert 2 anthology in their programme.
In other words, the In Concert series is a compulsory purchase and requirement for those taking the new LCM diplomas.
In Concert 2
Reviewing the previous In Concert anthology, I wrote in some detail about the presentation, quality and editing of the publication, concluding:
“Put simply ’In Concert’ is an extraordinary achievement, and in a completely different league from LCM’s previous published efforts. And whether or not you are interested in LCM’s Diploma exam, this is a highly desirable new collection for players looking for interesting and diverse repertoire at this level.”
Rather than repeat the same points, it gives me happiness to confirm that this second publication maintains the same exacting standards as the first, and can only be described as outstanding.
What then of the pieces?
While In Concert included selections from the DipLCM syllabus, this anthology is drawn from the ALCM and LLCM syllabi, with five works chosen from each.
Once again, the pieces are superbly edited and engraved by David Duncan of LCM, and the book includes an introduction and performance notes for each piece written by the top-flight concert pianist Joanna MacGregor, who writes of the selections:
“The music, by ten different composers, spans nearly four hundred years, giving a sparkling snapshot of the keyboard repertoire. There’s Baroque harpsichord brilliance and a darkly urgent classical sonata; high romanticism and cool minimalism; and piano music inspired by spirituals, Chinese folk music and South African wildlife.”
As you read the list of included music, take time to drink in MacGregor’s point about the extraordinary diversity provided here:
Margaret Bonds (1913-1972):
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757):
Sonata in B minor K.27
Sonata in E major K.135
John Adams (b.1947)
Chen Peixun (1921-2006)
Ping Hu Qui Yue (Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake)
Miriam Hyde (1913-2005)
Valley of Rocks
Kaija Saariaho (b.1952)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Sonata in C minor, K.457 (complete)
Augusta Read Thomas (b.1964)
Rain at Funeral – Homage to Morton Deldman
Twitter-Machines – Homage to David Rakowski
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Sonetto 104 del Petrarca
John Howard (b.1950)
It must be admired that overall the list of pieces brings to the fore music that will be unknown to many of those approaching the Diploma. To quote from MacGregor’s introduction again:
“With many of these pieces you’ll be enriching your repertoire beyond the core canon – absolutely essential for a modern musician. Repertoire building and exploration are two of the most important skills for a musician to develop. This collection will encourage you to experiment with colourful concert programmes.”
This really, in my view, serves to underline too that LCM now stand absolutely at the forefront of exam boards when it comes to innovative brilliance and a cutting-edge commitment to both expanding the repertoire and broadening the narrative of classical musical performance.
MacGregor’s words apply, of course, to all classical pianists, and not simply those at higher education level or preparing for a specific Diploma assessment. As I concluded in my review of the first In Concert book:
“LCM Publications have, with In Concert, produced a brilliant and varied collection of advanced piano music whose appeal should go far beyond those with the narrow interest of taking one of LCM’s Piano Diploma exams.”
It would be excellent indeed to see these works become established concert favourites, as all have the clear potential to be. In Concert 2 is so much more than just a fantastic exam book.