We are delighted to announce The Tait Memorial Trust, ‘John Amis Award’ at the Dartington International Summer School. The Award, valued at £1,700, will fund the studies of a young Australian for two weeks intensive work at next year’s School. This will be an annual award available to an Australian citizen who wishes to further their musical studies in the UK. Please apply directly to Dartington to register your interest.
Melbourne born Tenor Matthew Thomson was the John Amis Award’s first recipient at the 2016 Dartington International Summer School and Festival. Speaking of Matthew as the first recipient of the award, Isla Baring says,
“John loved singing, he loved Australia, and he loved Dartington – these three elements have come together perfectly in Matthew receiving the first of these annual awards in celebration of John’s legacy at Dartington.”
Writer, broadcaster, narrator, mimic, wit, raconteur, visionary, bon vivant, and an excellent organizer, John Amis’ life was a remarkable one, through which music, and the joy of it, ran as a rich golden vein.
When John Amis died in 2014, Isla Baring, the “Indian Summer” of his life, and Chair of the Tait Memorial Trust, of which John too had been an active patron, invited gifts from those who loved and appreciated him to create a ‘John Amis Award.
In celebration of John Amis’ defining role in its history, The Dartington International Summer School and Festival, and the Tait Memorial Trust have now joined to offer this award to an Australian Student applying to attend the Summer School each year.
John’s role in the Summer School goes back to 1948, when as William Glock’s right hand man, he helped set up the Summer School at Bryanston, a relationship that continued when the Summer School moved to Dartington in 1951, where John was closely involved in both its artistic direction and administration. Through the close friendships John built with notable musicians, composers, and conductors, he ensured that many of them featured at Dartington, where he worked to develop the special musical atmosphere that pervades to this day. (John was also in charge of the “trogs”; the unpaid volunteers who keep the show on the road – christened “troglodytes” by George Malcolm one summer.)
Matthew Thomson, Tenor
Matthew specialises in Baroque to Classical solo and chamber repertoire, this year bringing the characters of ‘Pyramus’ and ‘Sailor’ to colourful dramatic and vocal life at Dartington in Richard Williams’ quirky, demanding ‘back to back’ productions of ‘Pyramus & Thisbe’ and ‘Dido and Aeneas’, and excelling in his solo performances in the Monteverdi Vespers and Handel’s ‘Alexander’s Feast’.
Matthew says of his experience on the Advanced Opera Course at this year’s Dartington International Summer School and Festival
“These two weeks at Dartington provided one of the most intensive and rewarding learning and performance experiences of my career. I am thrilled too to be the first recipient of this award.”
Matthew’s course diary
“Week 1: Emma Kirkby was amazing to work with and learn from – as well as having the opportunity to have a lesson with Jessica Cash who was fantastic!! Having so many baroque and early music instruments there and working with all the lutenists really made the experience special. Also, I think it is important to give students the opportunity to sing some solos in the major concert alongside some of the more established professionals as I did in the Monteverdi Vespers with Stile Antico. Emma said some things that really assisted me regarding vowels and how I come on to notes when I sing. This will definitely change the way I approach songs in the future. Also, I feel like Jessica Cash helped me to overcome a mental block that I have been experiencing for years regarding listening to my sound and not singing freely – a bit of a revelation really!
Week 2: It is hard to pick a highlight of this week when it was opera for every session, but I have to say, I enjoyed it so much! Working with Maggie Faultless was probably the most valuable experience for me. Also, a shout out to the staff, particularly Georgie who was very helpful and understanding. Also – I loved the music shop. So many wonderful scores and so much money I probably shouldn’t have spent but did!! I have never really considered myself as someone who was good at performing staged opera – it isn’t something I have had confidence in. Performing in Pyramus and Thisbe, the comic opera, threw me in the deep end. I had to perform lines, a death scene, learn stage movements, memorise a tonne of music and on top of all of that, it had to be funny. A massive challenge that I really feel like I rose to. My confidence in this area has increased significantly to a point where opera is something I am seriously considering pursuing further.”
Artists seeking to apply for the award should please apply to the Tait Memorial Trust firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the Dartington International Summer School click here
To learn more about Matthew Thomson please click here
To learn more about Tait Awards please click here