The Leanne Benjamin Awards 2015

In 2014 The Tait Memorial Trust in collaboration with Tait Patron Leanne Benjamin AM OBE launched new ballet awards for young Australian dancers studying in the UK.

Leanne Benjamin AM OBE, The Royal Ballet, Jewels , Emeralds, 2007 © Johan Persson, Courtesy of The Royal Opera House
Leanne Benjamin AM OBE, The Royal Ballet, Jewels , Emeralds, 2007 © Johan Persson, Courtesy of The Royal Opera House

The first recipient, Josephine Frick, was presented with her award at a Tait Friends event at Australia House on Tuesday 14th October 2014 as a contribution to her fees at The Royal Ballet School.

Now in its second year the Trust are delighted to announce the 2015 recipients of The Leanne Benjamin Awards

Rebecca Blenkinsop – The Royal Ballet School, John Frost Award

Rebecca is 16 years old and is from Melbourne, Australia. She started dancing at the age of 10 years and at the age of 11 was accepted into the dance programme at the Victoria College of the Arts Secondary School in Melbourne. At the age of 13 Rebecca began to develop a passion for ballet and
for the last three years has studied Cecchetti. She recently completed her final examination of ‘Advanced 2’ with a score of 100%.

At the age of 14 Rebecca won the State Silver Medal Award section, and also the National Lucie Saranova Silver section for her Cecchetti. Later that year Rebecca won a bursary to compete in the Cecchetti International Ballet Competition in United States of America. Whilst one of the youngest
competitors, Rebecca received second prize and was recognized as ‘The Most Promising Dancer’.

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Rebecca Blenkinsop, Prix de Lausanne 2015

Rebecca’s Cecchetti success continued this year when she won the National Lucie Saranova Gold Medal section. In January she was also delighted to be a finalist in the prestigious Prix De Lausanne in Switzerland where Mr Powney first saw her.

Rebecca had the opportunity to perform the role of a child ballerina with Victoria Opera, in their production of ‘La Traviata’. She was also cast in several lead roles in her school productions, her most memorable being a ballet work of Opus 47 choreographed by English born dancer Jonathan Taylor. Rebecca has received her ballet training from some amazing ballet teachers over the last few years, three of whom trained at The Royal Ballet School. Rebecca feels honoured to have been selected to attend The Royal Ballet School and looks forward to receiving what she considers to be the best available teaching and the opportunity to train with exceptionally talented students.

Chloe Hollow – The English National ballet School, Peggy Haim Award

Chloe started training at the age of four she studied all types of dance. She has been studying full time ballet since 2013 with Janine McGrath Classical Coaching Australia and has been studying both Cecchetti and RAD ballet syllabus over the past 10 years.

chloe hollow
Chloe Hollow

Chloe has been a member of Byron Ballet since she was seven years old where she has been in many productions leading up to become a leading artist. She also has been a full company member of Brisbane City Youth Ballet where she has been selected as a soloist and principle dancer.

Some recent highlights include:

  • 2014 Australian Bursary winner, selected to represent Australia in the Cecchetti International Ballet Competition held in Richmond Virginia USA held in August, selected as a finalist and awarded a scholarship to Boston Ballet six week summer program for 2015.
  • Selected for The Queensland Ballet Junior Program 3 for 2015.
  • 2014 Runner-up in the Australian Institute of Classical Dance International Ballet Competition (performed La Bayadere 1st Shade)
  • Selected soloist for the Youth America Grand Prix Finals held in New York in April 2015. Offered various places.
  • 2015 Alana Haines Australasian Awards awarded a scholarship to Queensland Ballet Senior Program for two weeks.
  • 2015 Auditioned for schools in the UK and Europe receiving acceptance in various schools.
  • Offered a half scholarship from English National Ballet School which she has proudly accepted. Starting with ENBS in September 2015.

Chloe is now studying at English National Ballet School in Level One.

 

Waynne Kwon, cello – Inaugural Higgins Scholar

Below is a letter from Waynne Kwon about his 1st year at the Royal Northern College of Music. Waynne is the inaugural Higgin’s Scholar. A new award generously funded by the Higgins family. The award is£5,000 per annum for 3 years.

We look forward to hearing about his 2nd year and ultimately follow the development of his professional career.

If you would like to talk to us about creating a new scholarship for a young Australian who wishes to study in the UK please contact our Chairman, Isla Baring OAM on 0207 351 0561 Please click this link  for our Friends page to learn more about ways that you can help us to support another talented young artist.

Waynne Kwon
Waynne Kwon

“My first year as an undergraduate at the Royal Northern College of Music was full of learning and wonderful new experiences. I am very privileged to be studying under Hannah Roberts, a wonderful cellist and musician. Every week I receive an hour long lesson with her, and then also have a four hour cello class. During cello class, four of her eight students perform a piece to the class and then Hannah helps us improve and enhance all aspects of cello playing and music making. The college manages to prepare students for their future as musicians by covering all aspects of music learning and making.

 

There are lectures and tutorials on music history and theory, and we also have musicianship classes to train our aural and improvisational skills. Last year I had the pleasure to play for many world renowned cellists and musicians. I was privileged enough to have masterclasses with Miklos Perenyi and Ralph Kirshbaum. I was also able to attend non cello related masterclasses given by Nobuko Imai, James Ehnes, Stephen Hough and Henk Guittart and listen to concerts given by Kathryn Stott and James Ehnes to name a few. The continuous amount of quality musical figures that give masterclasses at the college continues this year. I will be performing for Rebecca Gilliver (Principal Cello of LSO) and Istvan Vardai (winner of the Munich ARD Competition) in two weeks’ time.

 

Waynne Kwon

 

The number of competitions I entered last year was limited as I wanted to improve myself further. However, I managed to see good results in the two competitions I participated in. I was a finalist in the Concerto Competition at college where I played all three movements of the Schumann Cello concerto. I was also awarded the Junior Prize in the Raphael Sommer Cello Scholarship that was held in London. During the summer holiday I was able to return back to Sydney and relax with family and friends. I managed to give numerous concerts during the three month break.

 

The college has been very generous towards me since my audition day back in December 2013. Last year I was on a £16,000 entrance scholarship along with a loan of their wonderful Ruggieri cello made in 1694 for the duration of my studies. This year I have been awarded the Haworth Trust Fund, where they have provided me with a full £17,900 bursary and an extra £3,000 pounds to help relieve the rise in accommodation fees at the Sir Charles Groves Halls of Residence.

 

I often find myself reflecting on how lucky and privileged I truly am to be where I am now. I just want to thank you for the generosity you have shown towards me. Without your help and support I really would not be able to study in the UK at a very prestigious music college where I can further challenge and improve myself as a musician. I know you are very, very busy, but I hope to have the pleasure in meeting you very soon.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Waynne Woo Seok Kwon”

Yelian He plays cello concerto with the Sydney Symphony

2015 is a pretty special year for me. It’s the first year I’ve spent experiencing the 30’s, the first time my cello was swabbed and searched instead of me in an airport, and it’s the first time I’ve performed a concerto without a conductor – and with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to boot.

 

 

Speaking of, I must mention that all of these fantastic experiences happened during the month of May as a result of winning the inaugural Australian Cello Awards Grand Prize in 2014 (ACA Website, next competition in 2017). That was a highlight not soon forgotten in itself and I’m sure I’ll be hearing even greater things from CEO Roland Gridiger and his team at MOST. But as I was trying to say, my excitement grew endlessly (so too did practice) as my debut with the Sydney Symphony drew nearer.

On the way to my first rehearsal, I was nervous about what to expect. There have been times in the past where the concerts haven’t lived up to expectations owing to insufficient rehearsal time or difficulties in communication. When I arrived I was greeted by the Concertmaster Andrew Haveron before meeting the Orchestra for some one-on-one time with the Bach Concerto; this is when general & interpretational decisions are brought up so there are fewer surprises during rehearsal. It was clear from the start Andrew was confident and accommodating – vital qualities for a good musician, and a good human being.

 

 

A Concerto without a conductor is a trust building exercise, and it’s easy to lose your nerve or get too excited. There’s bound to be more communication between the musicians, leading to more ideas being aired, but you also better know the score intimately! Not only will there be questions from the orchestra, knowing how the 1st violins bow a particular sequence of quavers or how the cellos phrase another section makes all the difference in rehearsals and performances, all the while giving a brilliant unique interpretation of the work.

It’s not difficult when you play with a wonderful orchestra, to get carried away in the passion of a running passage and/or to indulge the slow movement so much everyone else thinks it’s like watching paint dry; it’s happened many times during my earlier years and I’m embarrassed to say that wasn’t too long ago, which is why I advocate discipline and self-control! Having said that, it doesn’t mean I’m to be lifeless on stage when not playing anything either. Here’s me and the SSO taking a couple of minutes off after the rehearsals to shred the piece we just spent hours rehearsing. (It’s definitely the SSO’s good nature that I’m allowed to get away with this…but what can I say? Music’s got to be enjoyed by the ones playing and the ones listening!

 

About two weeks prior the SSO’s website had listed the concert as SOLD OUT which meant the only chance of securing a ticket was to wait and chance it at the returns desk. As a performer the adoration of your audience is key! Don’t believe me? Try playing for a hall half-empty (or half-full depending on your philosophical bend) and tell me you don’t wish you’d have given more love and attention to them more often; for a concert organizer that’s also a great reason not to see you again any time soon. I’m sure both the Australian Cello Awards and the Sydney Symphony have worked very hard to push this concert to the public, and if anybody else was involved, I thank you sincerely for making all of this a fantastically memorable event!

Tabatha McFadyen, Winner Tait Award, 2015 Bel Canto Awards

The 2015 Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge Foundation, Bel Canto Awards Finals Concert was a triumphant success.

http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/two-sopranos-carry-elizabeth-connell-and-bel-canto-awards

We are delighted to report that young Australian soprano, Tabatha McFadyen was awarded the Tait Prize which gives her a coveted London performance platform. Tabatha will make her London debut singing for us at our 2015 Tait Winter Prom at the Royal College of Music on Monday 23rd November at 7pm.

Smaller Size Headshot 1

Tabatha McFadyen, soprano, 2nd from right in white – attached photo. She came second in the competition – it was very close.

Finalist 2015 Bel Canto Awards
Finalist 2015 Bel Canto Awards

Biography
Tabatha was initially trained at the Queensland Conservatorium, graduating in 2013 with First Class Honours and the University Medal. She recently undertook intensive post-graduate studies at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Tabatha won the 2015 Opera & Arts Support Group Scholarship, the 2014 49th International Dvořák Singing Competition (Czech Republic), Mietta Song Competition, Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Awards, 32nd National Liederfest, was a finalist in the 2012 Bel Canto Award, runner-up in the Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Operatic Aria and a finalist in the 2012 Australian Singing Competition winning the Mozart Opera Institute Award and the Nelly Apt Scholarship. Her stage roles have included: Musetta, Zerlina, Titania in The Fairy Queen, Suor Genovieffa, Countess Almaviva for QCGU, Susanna for Opera New England, Nina for Neglected Musicals’ presentation of Dear World (Jerry Herman) and Prilepa in Queen of Spades with SSO under Ashkenazy. An accomplished recitalist, she has been a regular guest artist with Brisbane contemporary music ensemble Kupka’s Piano, a featured artist as part of the EBCC Contemporary Music Festival in 2015 and has collaborated on world premieres with several composers. As part of the 2015 Port Fairy Music Festival she will perform with long-standing musical partner Alex Raineri, the Arcadia Quintet and Press, Play which will then transfer to the Melbourne Festival. Highlights on the concert platform include performances with Camerata of St. John’s led by Brendan Joyce & the Queensland Symphony Orchestra with Johannes Fritzsch.

Latest harvest news, a provençal wedding, the best of figs & win a Mirabeau tree of life

The Mirabeau Wines, Rose was a big hit with our audience at Kabarett at Leighton House. Good to see the 2015 vintage is shaping up well.

Thank you Mirabeau Wines for supporting our work by supplying such delicious wine.

Source: Latest harvest news, a provençal wedding, the best of figs & win a Mirabeau tree of life

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We’re very happy to report that the harvest 2015 is in the cellars of our growers and best of all it seems the quality of the fruit and juice is outstanding. Soon we’ll be starting to assemble the new vintage and we are ecstatic that we should be able to produce something truly special for you. October is the start of the mellow season in Provence and the vineyards are producing a last fireworks of colours and other crops like Figs and Pomegranates are coming into season – this really is a great time to come down and visit if you get the chance!

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Googie Withers and John McCallum – Double Act

Cover of 'Double Act'
Cover of ‘Double Act’

Googie Withers and John McCallum are stars from British cinemas pre and post WW2 golden age who would go on to have a profound influence on the Arts in Australia. As Founding Patron’s of the Tait Memorial Trust they will forever be a part of our work to assist the careers of young Australian performing artists who study in the UK. In Double Act, Brian McFarlane charts their careers through the eyes of a lover of theatre, cinema and television; The glimpes into their personal lives throughout adds a unique poignancy to the book which really is a must for any lover of theatre and the performing arts.

John McCallum, famous for his rugged good looks was a highly successful film, television and stage actor and producer in his native Australia and in the UK before and after the war. After completing his military service with the 2nd AIF in New Guinea he returned to resume his acting career in the UK.  In 1948 he married the British actress Googie Withers, with whom he appeared in a large number of films.

Googie Withers best known work of the period was as one of Margaret Lockwood’s friends in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1938). Among her successes of the 1940s, and a departure from her previous roles, was the Powell and Pressburger film One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942), a topical World War II drama in which she played a Dutch resistance fighter who helps British airmen return to safety from behind enemy lines. She played the devious Helen Nosseross in Night and the City (1950), a British film noir directed by Jules Dassin.

They were among the most gifted and distinctive of Ealing’s large company of actors. The pair had met and fallen in love on the set of The Loves of Joanna Godden, released early in 1947. Later that year they were to star in It always rains on Sunday directed by Robert Hamer. The film was re-released a few years ago by the BFI.

How they managed to juggle their first class international careers with a family of three children often on opposite sides of the world was a feat in itself. In 1958 John would go on to join Sir Frank Tait at J C Williamson’s where he was closely involved with the production of American musicals from Annie Get Your Gun to My Fair Lady. With Borovansky, formerly of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, they toured a cast led by Margot Fonteyn.

This company would go on to form the core of the Australian Ballet with the help of Frank Tait, John McCallum and Dr Herbert Coombes, the first Chairman of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. At the invitation of Sir Frank Tait, McCallum became joint Managing Director. McCallum was keen to encourage the casting of talented Australians in leading roles and was instrumental in beginning the starring careers of Kevin Colson, Jill Perryman, Nancye Hayes, Barbara Angell and others.

Still of John McCallum and Googie Withers in It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) © Photo courtesy of Film Forum/Rialto Pictures.
Still of John McCallum and Googie Withers in It Always Rains on Sunday (1947)
© Photo courtesy of Film Forum/Rialto Pictures.

Their contribution to the Australian performing arts is considerable. In 1971, McCallum was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). In 1992, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). Both honours were made for services to drama and theatre. Withers was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to drama, in the 1980 Australia Day Honours List. In the 2002 Queen’s Birthday Honours List (UK), she was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

McCallum also wrote, directed and produced numerous films and television series, particularly the international TV series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (1966–68) which he co-produced with Lee Robinson. Television series he produced in the 1970s include Boney, Barrier Reef and Shannon’s Mob. McCallum also widely acted on the stage. A particular favourite role was in The Circle by W. Somerset Maugham. In this production he acted alongside Googie Withers in the U.K. as well as in Australia.

The book includes more than 30 black-and-white photographs which complement the text and make you wish for more. After all, there are limits to describing the performing arts in words even though McFarlane does this par excellence.

John McCallum passed away on February 3rd 2010 in Sydney. The other part of this great double act, Googie Withers, died 17 months later at the age of 94. A great loss to the performing arts in Australia.

Googie Withers filmography on imdb

John McCallum filmography on imdb

Review of Double Act from the Sydney Morning Herald

Link to buy the book, Double Act from Amazon