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TL Competition Round-up 2020/21

Wed 5 May 2021

Competitions and Prizes celebrate the creativity and technical excellence of students from across our Faculty of Music.

Since the Daryl Runswick Competition for composition students was reinvented for a virtual audience last year, we’ve delivered several internal competitions and prizes through a mix of digital and in-person formats that give our young musicians the chance to showcase their talent.

Streamed live to an online audience from Trinity Laban’s Peacock Room, The Roy Pleasance Competition saw postgraduate sopranos Olivia Bell (Kathleen Roberts Vocal Scholar), Anna Marmion (Eva Malpass Scholar) and Victoria Mulley (Elliot Rosenblatt Memorial Scholar) compete for the prize. After offering insightful feedback to the three finalists, adjudicator and Royal Opera House repetiteur Susanna Stranders announced Anna Marmion as the winner for her fire-themed programme.

Anna’s winning performance, accompanied by David Smith, included Gilda’s aria from Rigoletto and works by Britten, Strauss and Ravel. The soprano most recently performed the role of Susanna in Puzzle Piece Opera’s live-streamed production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

Anna says –

“It was such a pleasure to sing in the final of the competition alongside my wonderful colleagues Vicky and Olivia. It was thrilling to be chosen as the winner and I am looking forward to implementing the insightful and valuable advice I received from Susanna into my continued work. I am so happy to have been able to take part in this competition given the restrictions of the past year.”

Concert guitarist and professor at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Tomasz Zawierucha, adjudicated The Alison Stephens Competition for Plucked and Fretted Instruments, naming classical guitarist and second year Master’s student Daniel Moloney the winner. Daniel performed Mazurka Apasionada by Barrios, El Delirio by Cano and Maria (Gavotte) by Tarrega to claim the prize.

On winning, Daniel comments –

“It was a great experience playing alongside all the incredible musicians in the competition, and I was thrilled and humbled to win!

Third year undergraduate violinist Samuel Cutajar won this year’s Vera Kantrovich Prize for Solo Strings, following his “serene and spacious” performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s second Solo Sonata in A minor where he showed “command and insight”. Samuel is currently studying with Clare Thompson and was selected as a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra in 2020, following an internship with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017.

Reflecting on the competition, Samuel says –

“Performing this special piece with its fugal complexities juxtaposed with the andante’s intimacy was a privilege. Competing in against such fine fellow colleagues was a particular highlight in my musical journey so far. “

The competition was adjudicated by Royal College of Music’s Susie Mészáros, who comments –

“The demands of playing unaccompanied Bach are great, both technically and musically. It was with admiration that I listened to these young people playing and I was deeply touched and impressed by the beauty, skill and generosity of spirit demonstrated by every single one of the finalists.”

Clarinettists from the conservatoire’s Wind, Brass and Percussion department took part in The Wilfred Hambleton Competition, adjudicated by Chamber Orchestra of Europe clarinettist Marie Lloyd. Final year undergraduate Laurence Cuttriss performed a winning interpretation of Jorg Widmann’s Fantasie.

Winner Laurence comments –

“I had a lot of fun learning the pieces, which has everything the composer loves about the clarinet. It’s been so important to have a goal to work towards during these past months.”

Future performances include Jean Francaix’s Clarinet Concerto with the Horsham Symphony Orchestra in November 2021, and an invitation to perform in the Krakow International Festival of Composers next spring.

Adjudicated by distinguished British oboist and founder member of the Britten Sinfonia, Nicholas Daniel OBE, the annual Evelyn Rothwell Oboe Competition was won by Yu Hao who performed Telemann’s 12 Fantasies for Unaccompanied Oboe: No. 2 in A Minor and 48 Studies by Ferling: No.7.

The first year Artist Diploma student comments –

“I really enjoyed the competition. It was a great opportunity for the competitors to showcase our music after the most recent lockdown.”

This year, Sam Pugh’s rendition of Serge Koussevitzky’s Double Bass Concerto op.3 in the Vernon Elliott Competition was “a real highlight” for adjudicator and London Philharmonic Orchestra Double Bass Hugh Klüger, who named Sam the winner. “It was inspiring to adjudicate the Vernon Elliott Competition because of the high standard of double bass playing, the passion and the musicality shown by the competitors.”

In November, keyboard students took part in the The John Longmire Competition, adjudicated by Japanese pianist Ayami Ikeba, professor at the Universität für Musik in Graz, Austria. Third year undergraduate Priscilla Oprescu took home the prize for her performance of Beethoven’s Bagatelle Op. 126 no 4 in B minor and Sonata Op. 14 No. 2 in G Major. Priscilla says she was drawn to the sonata’s “honesty and sincerity” and that playing in the competition helped her discover “even more beautiful ideas in the music”.

The Romanian pianist joined Trinity Laban in 2018 and studies with Yekaterina Lebedeva, funded by the Arthur Haynes and Jimmie Cross Prize Fund Scholarships, as well as the Henry Wood Accommodation Trust. She will now represent the conservatoire at the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe Intercollegiate Competition later this year.

Priscila comments –

“Winning the competition felt a bit unreal given the circumstances, and all in all it was a very unique and inspiring experience. I also found it interesting hearing different interpretations of the Bagatelle from my talented colleagues. I am extremely grateful to Trinity Laban for making this competition possible in these times.”

In December, soprano Bethan Terry and pianist Francesca Lauri Menta (Arthur Haynes Scholar) performed a programme of Messiaen, Duparc, Poulenc and Debussy to win The Lillian Ash French Song Competition, which was adjudicated by internationally renowned piano accompanist Roger Vignoles.

Roger, who is recognised as a leading exponent of art song, reflecting on his involvement in the competition –

“It was a novel experience to adjudicate the Lilian Ash Competition via my computer screen at home, but thanks to the positive spirit of the participants I was able to derive great enjoyment from their performances.  Imaginatively chosen repertoire, accomplished and communicative singing, supported by excellent piano playing – all demonstrated Trinity Laban’s commitment to teaching French Mélodie to the highest standard.”

The pair, who are both undergraduate students, have been working together as duo partners since 2019. Francesca explains –

“After feeling electricity between us as players when we competed in the 2019 competition, we decided to keep working together. To now be the winners has really given us a huge push to work even harder and continue the amazing bond we have together as a duo.”

In April, Imogen Burgess (Kathleen Roberts Vocal Scholar) and Francesca Lauri Menta were named winners of the English Song Competition, impressing British baritone and competition adjudicator Sir Simon Keenlyside with their programme of Herbert, Bridge, Guerney and Dove. Keenlyside gave insightful comments to the final duos, focussing strongly on the artistic approach to the interpretation and presentation of the songs.

Keyboard students Ka Ng, Jinah Shim and Zhu Sun competed for  The Alfred Kitchin Competition for Solo Piano with a programme of Schubert and Schumann. Romanian British concert pianist Alexandra Dariescu named Jinah Shim the winner. Donated by Alfred Kitchen, the prize is intended to encourage expressive and musical playing.

Jinah comments –

“I am delighted to have won the Alfred Kitchin Competition with Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy. It was such a thrill to play live, with an audience in the same room. The music world was severely impacted by Covid-19 and performing in this competition has given me hope that the music world is getting back on its feet.”

Leading British violinist Gina McCormack adjudicated the John Barbirolli String Quartet Competition, awarding the prize to The Waldstein Quartet (Greta Papa, Daniel Pukach, Natalia Solís Paredes and Miguel Villeda Ceron) who performed two movement from Beethoven’s Quartet No.5 in A Major. As winners, they will represent Trinity Laban in the upcoming intercollegiate Cavatina Competition.

Looking ahead, the summer term sees the Vivian Joseph Classical Concerto Competition for bowed strings and the conservatoire’s prestigious Soloists’ Competition.

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Find out more about studying music at Trinity Laban.