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.
“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.
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.
Young Australian horn player, Ian Wildsmith will be playing 1st Horn in the Tait Chamber Orchestra. We are delighted to welcome this young Melbournian to our newly founded ensemble at our first concert at St John!s Smith Square, Tuesday 9th December 2014 at 7.30pm.
What were you doing before you came here, and why did you decide to apply to the RNCM?
Before I came to the RNCM, I was studying in Melbourne at the Victorian College of the Arts in Australia. I had always wanted to study on this side of the world and did a whirlwind tour of English and German conservatoires with one of my high school friends in 2010, before settling on the RNCM.
What were your first impressions of the RNCM?
My first impressions were incredibly welcoming. I was able to sit down in the refectory and met a few then current French Horn students, who were very helpful in describing College life to me. I was also very impressed with the modern facilities and the wealth of programmes that were going on.
What’s a ‘typical’ day like?
It’s generally pretty full-on. In winter you often go into College before the sun rises and after the sun sets, it seems! You’re thrown into a myriad of musical ensembles in innumerable styles and situations. This is not to say that it’s all work and no play however. The College is very social and you can always find a friendly face for a coffee or a drink.
What’s your favourite aspect of being a student here?
I would probably say the depth and breadth of programmes I have participated in. From Symphony Orchestra to learning historically-informed performance practice on the hand horn, to intensive weekends featuring some of the most prominent composers of our time, the College provides you with training in all aspects of performance.
What are your main personal achievements since being at the RNCM?
Internally, I have been lucky enough to play principal horn with the Symphony Orchestra, performing ‘The Planets’ with Yan Pascal Tortelier and ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ with Sir Mark Elder.
Externally, I recently have been asked to play with the European Union Youth Orchestra. In the last year I was lucky enough to have participated in the London Sinfonietta Academy, the Deutsch-Skandinavische Jugend-Philharmonie and performed Mozart’s Horn Quintet on a Vacation Chamber Orchestra tour.
What do you plan to do after your studies here?
Ideally, I’d love to work in an orchestra, whilst hopefully having an active solo and chamber career. We will have to wait and see what happens though, I’ve still got a lot of time to spend in a practice room first!
In 2014 Tait Awards have increased by 27% from 2013/14. This increase has largely been due to the excellent response to our new Friends scheme and the increased level of donations from our generous supporters. The names of our Friends and our major donors can be found here
With our new ‘Adopt a Performer’ scheme we have two scholarships of £5,000 per annum over three years. The aim of this scheme is to offer continuity of funding to the artists over the term of their academic studies and to link a donor directly with an awardee.
Last year Kevin Penkin, composer, was the inaugural ‘Tait Scholar’ supported by the Baring family. This year he continues his studies at The Royal College of Music. We are delighted that Kevin has agreed to accept our commission for a new piece of music for flute and orchestra entitled, Changing Feet, to be premiered at our Winter Prom 9th December 2014. Tait Awardee, Nicola Crowe is to play the flute solo.
Waynne Kwon, cello is the inaugural recipient of the Higgins family scholarship. Waynne is about to commence his undergraduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music.
This year we are supporting 4 singers, 3 cellists, 2 accompanists, 3 composers, 1 viola, 1 flute and for the first time we are supporting a Trio, The Darian Trio which is based in Vienna.
We have a fund of £8,000 to support The Leanne Benjamin Awards for 2014/15 This fund was the result of The Leanne Benjamin Awards launch at The Royal Ballet School and a generous donation from Lady Roberttson. These awards will be announced later this year.
Adopt a Performer – £5,000 per annum over three years
Kevin Penkin, composition
Royal College of Music
Wayne Kwonn, Cello
Royal Northern College of Music
Higgins Family Award
We are thrilled to hear that Yelian He, Tait Awardee 2009, has been awarded the inaugural Australian Cello Awards. Congratulations Yelian. Yelian was the recipient of the Allen-Evans Scholarship, the Grand Prize of the inaugural Australian Cello Awards Competition, the Audience Prize as well as the Sydney Symphony concerto prize.
Yelian performs with Yasmin Rowe in their Cello and Piano duo Y2QUARED. Listen to them performing the Beethoven Sonata for Piano and Cello in F here
It is our great pleasure to be able to let you know that Yasmin and I performed at the finals of the inaugural Australian Cello Awards Competition on the night of 30th March 2014. We were incredibly fortunate and privileged to be selected by a jury of eminent Australian musicians as the Grand Prize winner as well as the recipient of the Audience Prize and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Concerto Prize. (Yelian will be back in Sydney to perform a concerto with the Sydney Symphony in 2015/16)
Needless to say, we’re both over the moon – we both love Australia very much for it’s weather – people – and food. We thought you’d be interested to know as you are an important part of why we were able to achieve this, so thank you very much for your support and we look forward to being able to give you more good news as the time goes by.
Terrific news to hear that former Tait Trust & YCAT Trust Awardee, HelenSherman has reached the finals of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition which will be held on Tuesday 3 September at 6pm
Australian mezzo-soprano Helen Sherman studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she completed a Bachelor of Music and Post Graduate Diploma in opera. Following her success in the 2007 Australian Singing Competition she was awarded a scholarship to take up studies at the Royal Northern College of Music where she was the first student to receive the International Artists Diploma in opera. In 2011 she represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and in 2012 /13, Helen was awarded Australian Music Association prizes at the Royal Overseas League Music competition in London.
Of her recent performance as Aurelio for English Touring Opera’s L’Assedio di Calais, Richard Morrison of The Times wrote, ‘Donizetti’s fierce vocal demands are met fearlessly and thrillingly by the young Australian mezzo Helen Sherman, playing the volatile hero Aurelio. Her stridently masculine body language and formidable vocal power seem to epitomize the bloody-minded resistance of the besieged citizens.’ Recent engagements have included Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte) for English Touring Opera at Fulham Palace, Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) for Mid Wales Opera, Suzuki (Madama Butterfly) and Governess (The Queen of Spades) for Grange Park Opera. Operatic roles while at the RNCM included Hélène (Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène), Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Cyrus (Belshazzar), the latter in a co-production with Manchester Camerata, Varvava (Katya Kabanova), The Old Lady (Candide) and Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus).
Over the last two years Helen’s concert appearances have included recitals at Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall and City of London Festival, Performances at Cheltenham Festival including Janacek’s Diary of one who disappeared with Toby Spence and Britten’s Cabaret Songs with James Baillieu broadcast live on BBC Radio3, Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall with Sir David Willcocks, a recital with Roger Vignoles for Cambridge Summer Festival, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra and Peter Maxwell Davies’s Five Acts of Harry Patch with London Mozart Players at St John’s Smith Square. Helen has featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC Classic FM and on British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC Radio3, and recorded with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Helen is a Samling Scholar.
Furture engagements include Nicklausse (The Tales of Hoffmann), Nero (The Coronation of Poppea) and a recital with Malcolm Martineau and Sir Thomas Allen at Wigmore Hall for the Samling Foundation.
Helen is very grateful for the dedicated support of The Young Classical Artists Trust, The Royal Overseas League, The Wingate Trust, The Tait Memorial Trust, Independent Opera, The Australian Music Foundation, The Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Trust, The Dame Joan Sutherland Society, Ars Musica Australis, The Opera and Arts Support Group Sydney, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and the Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust.
Reviews.. ‘The impetuous Aurelio is a trouser role sung by a mezzo-soprano; the similitude affected by Helen Sherman to a reckless young man was striking enough that on first glance one was unsure in the dimness of the stage whether it actually was a man stalking the English camp. What most impressed about her performance was not success in making the illusion of gender almost work, however, but the brilliant coloratura singing she brought to the role. Flitting easily over the spectrum of lower register to higher with never a pause, she brought the coruscating vocal fireworks which are so typically Donizetti and so superbly realised in L’assedio to the fore. When she returns safely to her family, her opening aria ‘Al mio core oggetti amati’ underscored a radiant tone directed smoothly and with precision, culminating in impressively sustained, floating high notes.’ Opera Britannia / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
There is one genuine revelation in this production. The good looking youth caught stealing bread from the enemy camp during the overture turned out, to my surprise, to be the mezzo Helen Sherman playing Aurelio. I’ve never seen a more convincing boy. And she can sing too. Her voice is warm, flexible and attractively rounded, and she sang assertively and evenly from top to bottom. I can easily imagine her in the sort of parts Joyce DiDonato specialises in – bel canto, Handel, Mozart – anything that needs stupendous technical command and real character.’ Intermezzo / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
‘Donizetti’s fierce vocal demands are met fearlessly and thrillingly by the young Australian mezzo Helen Sherman, playing the volatile hero Aurelio. Her stridently masculine body language and formidable vocal power seem to epitomise the bloody-minded resistance of the besieged citizens.’ Richard Morrison / The Times / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / March 2013
‘Helen Sherman, who represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2011, was superb as Aurelio. Dressed in baggy clothes, she looked physically every inch a young man and her demeanour was at all times highly convincing even when being rather physical (such as climbing over the drain). But she also brought to the role a fine, rich mezzo-soprano voice which was nicely even across the (considerable) range and wonderfully flexible when it came to the fioritura. She sang the role with intelligence and bravura, using the fioritura musically and dramatically. I certainly hope that we shall hear more of her in this repertoire.’ Robert Hugill / A World of Classical Music / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
’The singer that made this a knock-out was Australian mezzo Helen Sherman as Aurelio. Before she started singing, her convincing mannerisms and body language made me think she was a man, and she gave a stunning portrayal of the role. The defiant aria in Act I, and in Act II the duet with his wife, the rejection of the enemy, and the farewell aria to his baby were riveting. Helen Sherman’s mezzo voice is world class, and a glance at her website shows she is singing a huge range of different roles — I look forward to hearing her again.’ Mark Ronan / Theatre Reviews / English Touring Opera/ L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
‘There is only one man in Elvira’s life – Giovanni himself – and Helen Sherman tears herself apart as she depicts the conflicting emotions – rage, frustration, loyalty, devotion, vengefulness – which reach boiling point in this most complex of Mozartian characters.’ Seen and heard international / Mid Wales Opera / Don Giovanni / October 2012
‘The women shine brightest: Helen Sherman’s Elvira …stylishly sung.’ The Guardian / Rian Evans / Mid Wales Opera / Don Giovanni / September 2012
“My eyes lit up when I saw that Australian Helen Sherman had chosen to open with a song by Henri Duparc – Au pays où se fait la guerre .. It was impossible not to be caught up in the pathos and sadness of the situation which Helen Sherman communicated so sensitively. She then descended from her tower (figuratively) to Britten’s Cabaret Songs, his settings of words by Auden.. These are witty songs, not easy by any means, and Helen Sherman delivered them with a twinkle in her eye. She was well supported by accompanist James Baillieu who also had a twinkle in his fingers.” Seen and heard international / Cheltenham Festival / Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme/ July 2012
“Finally, a Handel aria sung as it should be, with clean but not over-articulated coloratura, excellent phrasing, plenty of expression, and the ornamentation placed at the service of the music, rather than just used as a tool to show off a voice…Sherman picked up the gauntlet and flung it right down again for the remaining competitors with this exuberant and triumphant interpretation.” An Unamplified Voice / Cardiff Singer of the World / June 2011
“My favourite female performer of the evening, was the Australian mezzo Helen Sherman. To start with, she is so elegant.. She walked firmly onto the stage, stood there in perfect control of her expressions and gestures, and delivered three difficult pieces with no obvious sense of strain. An audience can feel safe in her hands.” Intermezzo / Cardiff Singer of the World / June 2011
“Fresh from Cardiff Singer Of The World Helen Sherman seduced the boy and the audience with her bewitching rich mezzo-soprano.” This is Gloucestershire / Cheltenham Festival / Diary of one who disappeared / July 2011
“Helen Sherman was utterly convincing in the part of the gypsy with her creamy mezzo-soprano voice and beguiling presence. The wistful song which followed, God all-powerful, God eternal.. was enough to melt any man’s heart.” Seen and heard international / Cheltenham Festival / Diary of one who disappeared / July 2011
“The college is fortunate to have two star mezzos for the trouser-roles of Sesto and Annio. The Australian Helen Sherman, fresh from her storming victory the previous week in the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Prize, was a convincing Sesto, looking masculine and singing Parto, parto with lustrous tone…In their great scene together, Sesto and Tito raised the emotional temperature by several degrees.” Opera Magazine/ RNCM Opera / La Clemenza di Tito / April 2010
“Two performances were outstanding vocally and dramatically: the Australian Helen Sherman’s Helene could have come straight out of a Coward comedy and was sung with clear and flexible tone.” Opera Magazine / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène / February 2010
“As the vain, scheming, eponymous heroine, Helen Sherman was magnificent. Her confidence, acting ability, timing and a stupendous voice, made her the ideal lead in the production and should set up her for many major roles as her career develops.” Musical Opinion / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène / January 2010
“I would like to point to Helen Sherman’s performance in the title role as one of poise, sophistication, subtlety and splendour, in both the singing and the comedy.” Metro / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène December 2009