A Helping Hand to Young Musicians in Swansea

Everyone needs a helping hand when starting out on a career – especially when it’s a career in the competitive world of professional music.
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June 23, 2011 - PRLog -- Everyone needs a helping hand when starting out on a career – especially when it’s a career in the competitive world of professional music.

Over the years the John Fussell Award for Young Musicians, which forms part of the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts, has seen many past winners go on to have highly successful international careers in their own field of music.

The major competitions are familiar names - the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, the Young Welsh Singer, Yehudi Menuhin Young Violinists International Competition, the BBC Young Musician of the Year, the Kathleen Ferrier Award, to name but a few - which play an important part in furthering the careers of young artists, but the hundreds of smaller competitions, held in towns and cities throughout the country, are just as essential to the young musicians not only for the welcome prize money they deliver to help with expensive studies, but also for the invaluable experience of performing in public and gaining exposure in the media

At the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts 2011 Launch on 7 July, the final of this year’s John Fussell Award for Young Musicians will take place as it has done for the past 19 years. The four finalists will take to the stage to each give a short recital before three adjudicators and an invited audience.  The adjudicators this year are three eminently qualified men from the world of music.  Russell Moreton, Head of Music Staff at Welsh National Opera, Byron Jenkins, Orchestra Manager of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Huw Tregelles Williams, Chairman of the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts.  

The competition is open to singers and instrumentalists of Welsh extraction, or living in Wales who are nominated by their college or university.  The 2011 finalists are Siwan Mair Rhys, from Creigiau, a pianist studying at the Guildhall School of Music, tenor Samuel Furness, a former Dean’s Scholar at Llandaff Cathedral studying at the Royal Academy of Music, Daniel Finney, an oboist from Gwent studying at the Royal College of Music and Edmund Hartzell, from Saundersfood, a double bass player studying at Trinity College of Music

These names could well become familiar in the near future if they follow in the footsteps of previous winners, but without these competitions as stepping-stones many of the future leading musical talents of the country would find it vzbhi difficult to reach their goals.


Among the many past winners of the John Fussell Award who have gone on to build successful careers in their field are Swansea born 1997 winner, the exceptionally gifted cellist (and conductor) Thomas Carroll who, as a soloist, has performed with all the major British orchestras, records for Chandos and is in demand as a concerto soloist in Europe and the USA.

The 1998 winner, tenor Rhys Meirion, a former head teacher at Pentrecelyn near Ruthin who was brought up in Tremadog, has sung most of the leading romantic tenor roles while on principal contract at English National Opera and has appeared with opera companies in Germany, Australia and Hong Kong. His duet album with Bryn Terfel “Benedictus” was nominated for a Classical Brit Award in 2006 and last year he performed with Bryn in Welsh National Opera’s “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” and sang at the BBC Proms in the Park in Swansea as one of “The Three Welsh Tenors”.

Swansea born sisters Emily and Catherine Beynon won the competition in 1999 and are now rated as two of the best orchestral players in Europe.  Emily is principal flute at the Royal Cocertgebouw Orkest in Amsterdam following a period as principal flute with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Glyndebourne Touring Opera, while Catherine currently plays harp for the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg.  The Beynon sisters are two fine soloists but have always enjoyed performing as a duo and have also recorded together.

Following her win in 2000 Llanon-born harpist Catrin Finch was appointed Royal Harpist to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Her appointment revived this ancient tradition last held in 1873 and, during her period as Royal Harpist (2000-2004), she played regularly at the Royal Palaces and performed to Royalty from around the world.   Catrin has recorded for most of the major international recording companies, including Universal Records, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI and Sony Classical, both solo and with notable artists such as Bryn Terfel, Sir James Galway and Julian Lloyd-Webber. In 2009 the 'Catrin Finch Centre' in Wrexham opened.  This new £3M state-of-the-art conference and performance centre at Glyndwr University was named to honour Catrin's contribution to the music industry in Wales.

Born in Pentrebychan, Wrexham, Llŷr Williams won the competition in 2002.  Since that time he has become internationally known as a pianist of incredible talent, and is hailed by the press as “one of the truly great musicians of our time. …”  and of having “flawless fingers..”  Last year Llŷr embarked on a cycle of all-Beethoven concerts covering the composer’s complete 32 piano sonatas.  He gives a recital at this year’s Festival on 11 October.

Last year’s winner the young percussionist Rhys Matthews from Newport, is appearing at the Cheltenham Music Festival later this month.

For more information visit http://www.swanseafestival.org

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