Ladies and Gentlemen, I must say that this whole concert has been an enormous treat, and I hope you will agree that we have been extremely fortunate to have been here in the ballroom, which I think is one of the better places in London to hear music. Another one of Prince Albert's rather clever constructions! Incidentally, I was very proud to hear my great great-great grandfather's composition which was indeed so brilliantly orchestrated. It was rather moving I thought and beautifully played and sung.
I really wanted to thank them, on behalf of all of you Ladies and Gentlemen, who after all are such keen and generous supporters, for the wonderful evening we've had. In particular, I wanted to thank Maxim Vengerov for coming and joining us again after all these years. It's such a pleasure to see you. He never looks a day older. I don't know how... It just shows that fiddling is good for you! And also, Louise Alder, John Wilson and Emily Sun, as well as the Artistic Director, Stephen Johns, and of course the all-important students of The Royal College of Music, which, as you can imagine, I am enormously proud to be the President of. I only hope they haven't wasted too much time rehearsing, away from their all-important studies. If they have, they can blame me if they don't do so well in their exams.
But, it was wonderful to hear an orchestra like that. I've been going to The Royal College of Music for the last twenty-three years, ever since I took over from my beloved grandmother, and it does give me such pleasure, I can't tell you, to see the development of real talent, as you've heard, talent from all over the world benefiting from this great institution.
After all, the students are, at the end of the day, our greatest ambassadors and they remind us why we are all here tonight – above all to nurture future generations of young musicians. So, it's an investment in the future.
As President of the College, I am deeply proud of its success, its growing international standing and the role it plays in the musical life not just of this country, but of the whole world.
When, more than twenty years ago, in 1993, I became President, I was very conscious of standing in a tradition going back to 1882 when my great-great grandfather, King Edward VII, founded the College as Prince of Wales. It was his wish that the College should encourage and promote the cultivation of music on the international stage and that it should be the recognised centre and head of the musical world.
It is, perhaps as you can imagine, a source of great pride to know that those initial aims have been fulfilled in the most magnificent way. The list of distinguished figures in British music among the College's students and professors is certainly a very long one. I was so pleased, as a huge devotee of Sir Hubert Parry that a tiny bit was included this evening, not nearly long enough!
However, even the most glorious institution must, of course, not merely look to the past, but must build for the future.
That is why I am so pleased to see the way the College's estate will be transformed thanks to the vision of the architect John Simpson. His imaginative scheme will extend the language of the College's existing buildings, while making radical improvements to access and circulation around the campus. As you can imagine, it's not an easy thing to do in a cramped situation like that, but I think what he has produced is sheer brilliance.
The More Music campaign, which is already more than sixty per cent of the way towards its target, is making this work a reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen, all of this is only possible thanks to the generosity of so many people and organisations, and I could not be more grateful to Rena Lavery, to Art Russe, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Kingdom Music Education Group.
I fear there are far too many names to mention, of course, but I did just want to say a particular thanks to Geoff and Valerie Richards, who have worked tirelessly on all this, to Lord Black and Mark Bolland, Peter and Annette Dart, David and Mary Laing, Sir Simon and Lady Robey, Bob and Sarah Wigley, and of course Professor Lord Robert Winston, and the Director, Professor Colin Lawson, who I recently had the great pleasure, here, last week in giving him his much deserved CBE.
So, it is thanks to such generosity that the College can maintain its commitment to the highest standards of excellence, of ambition and of achievement.
And, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m so glad that some of the School’s new Patrons are here this evening, and thank you all, Ladies and Gentlemen, for your continued loyalty towards the Royal College of Music.
Looking at all that has been done so far, and the way the stage is set for ever greater success in the future, I have no doubt my great-great- grandfather would be enormously proud of how his original vision is being developed and kept thoroughly relevant.
Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.