Exclusive: Another college head falls in the North

Exclusive: Another college head falls in the North


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2021

The principal of the Royal Northern College of Music has issued the following abrupt message:


Nick Thompson

I am writing to let you know that Nick Thompson has made the decision to resign from his position as Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion at the RNCM.

His last day at the College will be Friday, 17th December 2021.

Professor Linda Merrick

That’s it. No good wishes for his future, no thanks for past contributions. About as brusque a departure as can be imagined.

Insiders tell us there have been allegations of bullying in and around the department for more than two years.

One victim writes on her Facebook page: ‘It’s a shame this place of education didn’t listen to so many staff and students over this time as bullying and harassment has a detrimental effect on health and well-being, and a zero tolerance policy against this should be just that …’

The Manchester college, under previous administrators, has been implicated in multiple incidents of sexual abuse.

It must surely be time to draw a line and start anew.



  • Tribonian says:

    “Complainant” would be a better word than “victim” in the context of this report. He is innocent until proved guilty.

    If there are allegations which will withstand scrutiny, then by all means publish them and use the word “victim”. If there are not, then this is one person’s word against another’s in relation to wholly unparticularised allegations.

    Bullying and misconduct at work and in education are wholly reprehensible, but we have seen far too many innocent people’s careers and reputations destroyed based on allegation alone.

    • Maria says:

      How people can attempt to go into the music profession as snowflakes with no resilience, beats me. Fine if bone fide abuse.
      Sort it out, but to accuse members of staff on hearsay is not good. Innocent until proved guilty used to be our British way of doing things.

      • Anon says:

        It is all true and the college have all the evidence.
        But what really concerns me is that some people seem to think that bullying and harassement in 1/ the music industry, 2/ education and 3/ the workplace is ok?
        No it is not ok. There is no excuse at all and managers in all types of work and study environments should behave professionally and address their colleagues and students with respect. Complaints should be listened to and acted on before something worse happens.
        Yes – we need to be resilient as professional musicians, but resilient does not mean that we should tolerate abuse of any kind.

        • Anthony Sayer says:

          @Anon: A lot depends on how we define bullying and harassment. If people in the US – that benighted country which exports so many neuroses – can be accused of a ‘microaggression’ just by asking where someone comes from, then what price ‘bullying’ meaning the teacher saying ‘You need to work harder’ or ‘that just wasn’t very good’? You need resilience in the business; you’re judged every time you sing or play a note and there’s rarely consensus concerning your genius. Until anyone can establish there was criminal behaviour involved we should take a little time to reflect on what we say.

          • Anon says:

            Bullying and harassment does not have to be criminal. Any behaviour that results in stress, anxiety, upset, fear, a decline in mental health and well-being needs to be and should be dealt with. The accusations go far beyond ‘macro-aggression’ and affected many people (of which many of these are strong minded seasoned professionals).
            There is a vast difference between being resilient to the profession and dealing with the above. A line was crossed and not dealt with. Management know that. Look at the language in the resignation announcement …that was it. No thank you for your service.

    • Althea T-H says:


      Why do you assume that the College has failed to investigate properly?

      Because it had the temerity to appoint a female principal?

      Knee-jerk rebuttals like yours are a part of the problem: not the solution.

      • Allen says:

        Your reply sounds far more “knee jerk” than Tribonian’s.

        “if” is not a rebuttal, it is accepting the possibility of two sides to the story in the absence of a trial.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Classical music seems to invite the worst in some people to bubble-up to the surface. It would merit a psychological research project to find the cause. Is it the level of dissonance or consonance? or the absence or presence of contemporary music?

  • Edward says:

    You might also wish to clarify that the Royal College of Music you mention and the RNCM pictured are 2 separate institutions, and maybe sack your proof reader.

  • Armchair Bard says:

    On a slightly more general point here, and to go back to the Jan 2020 posting that Norman links to above. It has certainly been the practice for several decades now of properly informed instrumental teachers to seek to dissuade their more talented pupils from applying to Chet’s: for reasons that have become obvious in the wider world only relatively recently. [personal knowledge, as they say]

  • Ruby Yacht says:

    Interesting. They are in the midst of hiring a prep and a college harp teacher, and ignoring the best candidates. They think they can get a concert star to Manchester for measly pay. It’s all about what looks good on paper for administrators, they have no interest in real pedagogues anymore.