Events Calendar
Learn about upcoming events at RSA
Extra Curricular
Develop a skill with RSA
See what our students have achieved


Music Alumni

Ben Cullingworth (left RSA in 2009)

Ben studied GCSE music and A level music technology at RSA and had drum lessons with our peripatetic teacher Ben Cullingworth photoDarron Cleary-McHarg. He moved to London in 2009 to study the drums at the Institute for Contemporary Music in London. Ben soon started making his name on the London live music scene, playing residencies and many gigs around London and the UK.

Recording sessions have seen him working with many industry names, such as Arni Hjovar (The Vaccines) and Gil Cang (Michael Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Rhianna), whilst live experience has taken him on tours internationally. He currently works with the artist Peter Conway, whom he has just finished recording an album with, and through this project played at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for the 2012 Presidential Election alongside other artists such as James McCartney, Russell Watson and Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze).

When he can, Ben also plays in funk and soul bands, which has led to him playing on radio sessions with renowned saxophonist James Morton. Ben graduated from the ICM last summer. He secured a job immediately as a member of the company for the Beatles musical ‘Let it Be’, currently having a very successful run at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End, in which he plays the part of Ringo Starr. The show is touring the UK in a few months’ time and will be visiting Northampton and Birmingham amongst other places.


Beth Tempest (left RSA in 2009)

Former RSA student and flautist Beth Tempest, now studying at the Royal Academy of Music, updates us on her journey and progress since leaving RSA in 2009. Her article will hopefully be an inspiration to all current and upcoming RSA students.

In my final year at Robert Smyth Academy I decided to audition for music conservatoires around the UK. With the help of Mrs Petersen and my flute tutor Elizabeth Rowan I chose and auditioned successfully at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The A Levels I gained from the Sixth Form enabled me to enter RWCMD smoothly, in particular the music tuition I received at Robert Smyth was exceptional so I never felt as though I struggled with music theory in the four years of my music degree because I had such a fantastic grounding. During my Sixth Form time Jemma Freestone, who is a close friend and also a flautist, and I won the Rotary Young Musician Ensemble of the Year Competition and we were thrilled – we still do gigs together all around the country.

I graduated with First Class Honours from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2013 after studying under Roger Armstrong and Barbara Brown. In my final year I was the recipient of the Wolfson Foundation Bursary, Ken Smith Flute Prize and a nominee of the prestigious Ian Stoutzcker Award. I knew I wanted to continue with my music education at this point so auditioned for several colleges in London, and I received places and scholarships at all. I am now a postgraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music in London and currently study under Karen Jones, Kate Hill and Pat Morris (piccolo). I was recently awarded ‘Very Highly Commended’ in the Jonathan Myall Piccolo Prize and piccolo and doubling work (playing flute/piccolo/alto flute) is definitely dream work I enjoy and hope to continue a career in.

I freelance as an extra musician with the Bristol Ensemble and am Principal Piccolo of the Young Musician’s Symphony Orchestra based in St John’s Smith Square, London. In addition to work in Bristol and the South West I play with ensembles around London such as the London Beethoven Project, Melos Sinfonia, Place De L’Opera and Filthy Lucre Contemporary Ensemble. I teach privately and have a good base of pupils in North West London, while also working for the ColourStrings Music School as a visiting flute teacher.

My studies are supported by the Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity, The Seary Trust and The Sidney Perry Foundation – without the financial help from the Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity my postgraduate degree would not have been possible!

I feel incredibly privileged to have studied music and lucky that I have been so well supported by parents, friends and tutors. It has been a lot of hard work and it isn’t easy starting a career in music but it is such

a varied and exciting lifestyle that includes meeting people from all walks of life, so I definitely wouldn’t change a thing.


Chloe Miller Smith (left RSA in 2006)

Chloe Miller Smith, who studied GCSE and A level Music and left RSA in 2006, has sent us this update on her career:

I graduated from Sheffield University with a Music degree in 2009, having been a first study oboist and singing in
jazz and folk groups on the side. During University I volunteered at a chamber music promoter based at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre called Music in the Round, and on graduating I began working for them part-time as their Education Assistant. In the role I organised and stage managed concerts, workshops and masterclasses working with professional musicians from Ensemble 360. I also worked as an Usher at Sheffield Theatres and taught on the Wider Opportunities instrumental programme for Derbyshire Music Service to keep afloat financially!

In 2012 I moved to London to work for the Royal Opera House as the Schools’ Liaison Coordinator in the Learning and Participation Department, where the bulk of my work was managing the ROH’s Schools’ Matinees scheme. Having worked in the department for a year and a half, which I’d hugely enjoyed, I was keen to work on a different programme in the department (and get out from behind my desk more often!) so I applied for, and was successful in becoming, the Events Officer for the same department. In my new role I work on 2 main strands. Firstly our Insights programme, which is a year round scheme of public events designed to ‘lift the lid’ on our opera and ballet productions and backstage crafts.

Highlights have been a recent event with Philip Glass around his new opera The Trial, a Royal Ballet in Rehearsal with the original dancers of Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon coaching Royal Ballet principals, and coming up an event with the Royal Opera House’s Armoury Department. I also work on live broadcasts from The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet. Most recently (just on Sunday!) I was Production Coordinator on a livestream of an In Conversation between opera superstar Plácido Domingo and conductor and Director of Music for The Royal Opera, Antonio Pappano. A few weeks ago I also worked on World Ballet Day, which was a collaboration between The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, Australian Ballet and The Bolshoi Ballet to present 20 continuous hours of live coverage from backstage at each ballet company.

Jemma Freestone (left RSA in 2009)

Jemma studied GCSE and A level music at RSA and had flute lessons with our peripatetic teacher Kate Cartwright. Jemma freestoneShe proceeded to study the flute at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and graduated with a First Class degree last summer. Jemma is currently studying for a Masters in Orchestral Artistry at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Sarah Newbold, Philippa Davies and Ian Clarke.

Her professional freelance orchestral work includes Principal Piccolo for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff and Principal Flute for the Young Musician’s Symphony Orchestra and The Little Chamber Orchestra in London. She is also a member of the New British Winds, winners of the McGrenery Chamber Prize and June Emerson Launchpad Prize (2013). Solo experience includes winning the 2013 RWCMD Concerto Trials with harpist Llywelyn Jones, winning the Russell Sheppard Instrumental Scholarship Award in 2013, the Philippa Whitelaw Yardley Memorial Award in 2013 and the Ken Smith Flute Prize in 2012. She has also premiered a flute concerto with Sinfonia Newydd in 2010 for whom she holds the position of principal flute. Recent highlights include playing Principal Flute in Debussy’s ‘Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune’ with RWCMD Symphony Orchestra in February 2013.

Lucy Beech – left RSA in 2009

Lucy studied GCSE and A level music at RSA and played the bassoon in the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra and the clarinet in the RSA Jazz Band. She continued to study music at Leeds University and graduated in 2012. Following this she took up an intern placement in the education department of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and in the spring of 2013 she secured a job as Education and Ensemble Assistant for Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, which is one of the main professional orchestras in the UK.

Lucy was recently promoted to the post of Participation Administrator at BSO which involves planning rehearsals, concerts and workshops for all the chamber and education ensembles and organising all the work the orchestra does for 0-18 year olds across the south west region of England.