Royal Academy of Music receives largest single donation in its 200-year history

28 April 2022
By Ellie Palmer
The academy will use the donation to fund the new role of Gatsby Chair of Musical Theatre

The Royal Academy of Music has received a £6 million donation from Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the biggest single gift in the Academy’s 200-year history and the first fully-endowed chair at any UK conservatoire.

Professor Daniel Bowling, the Academy’s Head of Musical Theatre and first incumbent of the Gatsby Chair, will continue his tenure, leading the postgraduate course and company which is widely recognised as one of the best in the UK. Recent graduates have been cast in productions including Hamilton, Six, Heathers, The Lion King, Dreamgirls and The Prince of Egypt in the West End, Les Misérables in London and on tour in the UK and USA, and the UK tours of Miss SaigonAvenue Q and The Phantom of the Opera.

In addition to the Gatsby Chair two further major gifts, both from donors who wish to remain anonymous, will fund the Dame Myra Hess Chair of Piano and the William Lawes Chair of Chamber Music.

The three new endowed chairs kick-start the launch of the Academy’s Bicentenary Campaign, which aims to raise £60m. The Bicentenary Campaign will raise funds to invest in state-of-the-art facilities, attracting and retaining the best teachers and collaborators and, crucially, finding and funding outstanding young musicians.

The Academy’s Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood said:

Content continues after advertisements

"Musical excellence has never mattered more. The Academy’s Bicentenary affords us the opportunity to future-proof the values which have defined our work since 1822 while offering a transformational set of opportunities for talent to thrive, regardless of background. Through the generosity of organisations such as the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, we are able to pursue this universal institutional belief with renewed vigour, and pave the way for successive generations of young musicians to connect, collaborate and create.

"As the first UK conservatoire to announce a fully-funded endowed chair, we are ensuring our financial stability as we move into our third century, and hope to set a precedent for the sector. We are extremely grateful to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the two donors who have generously endowed the Dame Myra Hess Chair of Piano and the William Lawes Chair of Chamber Music. It’s a truly wonderful start to our campaign."

Main image: ©Hana Zushi