Pictured above, top row left to right: Josie Campbell, Hugo Lau, Wanshu (Suzie) Qiu; bottom row, left to right: Katie Taunton, Rebecca Whitehouse, Ellen Wilkinson.

Open Academy is thrilled to announce our new Fellows for the 2023-24 academic year. They are Josie Campbell (cello), Hugo Lau (clarinet), Wanshu (Suzie) Qiu (viola), Katie Taunton (flute), Rebecca Whitehouse (oboe) and Ellen Wilkinson (oboe). Read below to find out more about them:

Josie Campbell (cello)

I am overjoyed to be named a 2023 Open Academy Fellow and I am particularly excited to work with diverse communities. I hope to gain more experience and confidence with workshop leading through the Fellowship. I also hope to keep promoting music by underrepresented composers and bringing classical music to communities that are not usually exposed to it. One of the biggest highlights of the Open Academy experience so far was the Singing with Friends concert I performed in at Wigmore Hall. All the participants had such a kind and fun energy that radiated in every session and at the concert. It was really special to perform music from all around the world and to see some of the participants perform as soloists.

Hugo Lau (clarinet)

I am excited about being an Open Academy Fellow, as it will provide me with the chance to engage with individuals through music-making. Exploring various avenues of music creation and connecting with people from diverse backgrounds has always been a personal aspiration of mine. I believe that the Fellowship will offer me invaluable opportunities for growth and learning. Throughout the Fellowship, my intention is to introduce the public to period instruments and historical performances, while also delving into genres such as jazz and other musical genres. Additionally, I aim to enhance my musicianship and communication skills during this experience, eagerly anticipating the chance to collaborate with fellow musicians to craft a truly unique and immersive musical journey.

The highlight of my experience so far is "For the Crying Out Loud!" The little audience's response to the music was with various reactions such as expressive body movements and even crying out loud. Towards the end, many of them joined us on stage. This project holds immense significance for me because it demonstrates how music acts as a language, capable of impacting emotions.

Wanshu (Suzie) Qiu (viola)

Becoming an Open Academy Fellow allows me to immerse myself in a community of passionate musicians, learn from mentors, and contribute to the advancement of musical education and outreach projects. I hope to grow both as a musician and a person, sharing my love for music and inspiring others along the way. My desire is to make a positive impact, create meaningful connections, and leave lasting fulfilment with music.

There were too many highlights from every project I have participated in. If I must choose one, it was one of the Music for Thought workshops, where we were improvising with the participants, and the sound transformed from chaos into this beautiful piece of music. Everyone was smiling, I looked around the room, and felt so lucky to witness it.

Katie Taunton (flute)

Hi, my name is Katie, and I am a flautist completing my MA degree. I applied to be an Open Academy Fellow, as I would like music in the community to be a significant part of my life. Throughout my master’s degree, I have been lucky to work alongside fantastic workshop leaders in workshops for those with dementia, early years and in schools. This opportunity is so exciting, and I am inspired by the profound effect music can have on the community. My aim is to gain experience in settings where participants have been socially excluded.

A standout moment for me is with Out of the Ordinary. A participant expressed himself with Tai Chi movements and I improvised. This created an unrecognisable moment of freedom where it felt his diagnosis did not define him.

Rebecca Whitehouse (oboe)

I am very excited to be staying on as an Open Academy Fellow at the Academy! I first got involved with community-based workshops during my undergraduate course at the Royal College of Music and have since been involved in a range of workshops including working with regular early years Dalcroze classes, the Teenage Cancer Trust and City Lit's Inclusive Choir. I’m particularly looking forward to working with such a lovely team and gaining experience working with a variety of different participants during the year ahead. I’m hoping that this opportunity will continue to encourage my joy to share music with others, and to run my own workshops in the future.

My Open Academy highlight was the City Lit Inclusive Choir! It was particularly wonderful to see the choir members dancing at different points of the rehearsal, knowing that it was a safe space to express how the music moved them.

Ellen Wilkinson (oboe)

I wanted to become an Open Academy Fellow because the work encourages creative freedom, spontaneity, and playfulness - traits which align with my personality and artistic values!

I am excited to try new projects as a Fellow, including working with adults with learning disabilities and in care homes, as well as taking a more active role in planning and implementing projects. I am also keen to explore the potential for multimedia elements in workshopping, such as combining music with writing, movement and theatre. Long term, I would like to work with arts organisations to help improve access to all performing arts.

My Open Academy highlight so far is writing and performing a space-themed rock song called “Portal” with children at Robson House, a local pupil referral unit.