Message from the Principal
A Bicentenary Scholarship affords the opportunity to become part of a special group of highly talented and trained musicians at the Academy. The idea behind this integrated scholarship programme is to deliver an experience of exceptional quality, sustainability and belonging. That has meant designing a special year’s study, in some cases two, to reimagine how best to realise the talent in each scholar and to offer the right kind of momentum, with the right challenges, as they prepare for an exciting professional career. Launched in 2018 with an initial commitment to fund five years of scholars, this has now been extended to 2028. We have refined the programme through its first period and now, I believe, this scheme is truly unique in the pre-professional musical world.
Some scholars are given the chance to record for Linn Records, while others undertake additional training with world-leading artists and pursue individual projects. Each has benefited from a uniquely intensive and productive year at the Academy. I have been privileged to play a small mentoring role for each of the scholars.
Several collaborations have emerged as a result of the scheme, including our blossoming friendship with the Mascarade Opera Studio in Florence, soon to become the new Mascarade Emerging Artists programme in collaboration with Teatro La Fenice in Venice. The students who have studied in Florence are a part of the network that the Academy has helped to shape. This also feeds into opportunities with the New Generation Festival. Annual reunions, alternating between London and Italy, allow our scholars and the students at Mascarade to make lifelong connections and meet up with old friends, while creating a collaborative and supportive network of exceptional musicians. The flagship reunion was hosted in the Duke’s Hall at the Academy at the start of our Bicentenary year. Our next event will take place in Florence in 2023.
It is always wonderful to hear from our students and alumni as they set out on their exciting careers and shape their unique position in the music industry. We are particularly proud of the collaborations that have been formed from our Bicentenary Scholars network. For example, violinist Charlie Lovell-Jones, cellist Yoanna Prodanova and pianist Ariel Lanyi have formed a piano trio and I wish these exceptional musicians all the best as they build their reputation as a chamber group as well as solo artists. We hope this example inspires future scholars to work together and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by this programme.
None of this would be possible without the generosity and sustained support of the founding donors, and I offer my deepest thanks again on behalf of everyone at the Academy.
Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE
Please find current and past recipients of the Bicentenary Scholarship listed below in reverse chronological order.
Baritone Vitor Bispo began his musical education with the violin at the age of 10. He went on to study with the great Brazilian soprano Edna de Oliveira at the São Paulo Municipal School of Music, making his debut at the age of 20 in the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi with the Theatro São Pedro Opera Academy. He was also a bass chorister in the São Paulo State Youth Choir and Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo Academic Choir.
Competition successes include first prize at the Maria Callas Brazilian Singing Competition and the Revelation Singer Prize at the Linus Lerner International Singing Competition. He recently won the Blyth-Buesst Operatic Prize at the Academy, where he is now studying for his Advanced Diploma at Royal Academy Opera.
Vitor has sung in many productions, including Verdi’s La traviata, Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Puccini’s Turandot. Most recently, he performed the role of Marco in Gianni Schicchi for Royal Academy Opera.
Vitor’s scholarship is co-funded by the Fordyce Award.
Tenor Liam Bonthrone is in his second year at Royal Academy Opera, under the tutelage of Nuccia Focile, Marcus van den Akker and Jonathan Papp. He previously studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Robert Dean and Adrian Thompson. He is a Samling Artist and was a finalist in the 2020 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Liam has performed as an Alvarez Young Artist with Garsington Opera, most recently as Coryphée and cover for the title role in Le comte Ory. He performed the role of Don Ramiro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with British Youth Opera, winning two awards for his performances. Last year, he made his international debut as Bruno in Bellini’s I puritani in De Doelen, Rotterdam. In 2019, he sang in a Russian song recital as part of the UK-Russia Year of Music in the Rimsky- Korsakov Museum, St Petersburg.
With Royal Academy Opera, he has performed the roles of Gonzalve in L’heure espagnole, Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ferrando in Così fan tutte.
Liam’s scholarship is co-funded by Matthew and Sally Ferrey.
Pianist Junyan Chen’s ambitious solo and ensemble playing lends itself to a varied repertoire, from classical to contemporary.
As a soloist, Junyan has performed with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Xin Zhu Symphony Orchestra and Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra. She has had the honour of working with Zhang Liang, Edward Gardner, Eleanor Alberga, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Wanghua Chu.
Junyan is in her fourth year at the Royal Academy of Music under the tutelage of Professor Joanna MacGregor. Before this, she studied with Professor Weiling Chen at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Middle School.
At the 2018 Ciudad de Vigo International Piano Competition, Junyan was the winner of the Silver Medal, People’s Choice Award, Best Spanish Composition Performance Award and City Award as the youngest and only female competitor in the final. She was the prizewinner of all the piano categories at the Osaka International Music Competition in 2016, and also won the prestigious Osaka Prefecture Governor’s Award and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna Award.
Nicolò Umberto Foron
Nicolò Umberto Foron is a conductor, pianist and composer. He was recently selected as principal assistant conductor of Ensemble Intercontemporain, Paris, and was the winner of the International Conducting Competition Jeunesses Musicales Bucharest 2021.
As a conductor, Nicolò was discovered and taught by Jorma Panula when he was 10. At the age of 15, he assisted Lorin Maazel. He studied conducting at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and the Royal College of Music before he started at the Academy.
He works regularly with Peter Eötvös at the Budapest Music Center and has worked with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen, Het Residentie Orkest and the London Symphony Orchestra. He assisted Riccardo Muti for Le nozze di Figaro, which resulted in his conducting the final concert in Ravenna.
Nicolò often performs as a concert pianist with his younger sister, violinist Mira Foron. He has won multiple awards including the Het Kersjes Fonds for the National Master in Orchestral Conducting, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Miele Foundation, Talent Unlimited Foundation, Reintamm Award, Kathleen Trust Award, Elie Dangoor Award and DAAD Scholarship.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason MBE
Winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician competition, Sheku Kanneh-Mason is in great demand worldwide. He has made debuts with orchestras including the Seattle Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie, Royal Stockholm, Atlanta Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and, in November 2021, the New York Philharmonic. Upcoming highlights include performances with the Czech Philharmonic and London Philharmonic orchestras, and touring with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
On the Decca Classics label, Sheku has released Inspiration (2018), Elgar (2020) and, with his sister Isata, Muse, which went straight to No 1 in the Official UK Classical Charts in November. He has performed twice at the BAFTA awards ceremony, was the winner of Best Classical Artist at the Global Awards in 2020 and 2021 (the latter as part of the Kanneh-Mason family), and received the 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society’s
Young Artist Award.
Sheku plays a Matteo Goffriller cello from 1700, which is on indefinite loan to him. He was awarded an MBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List. His scholarship is co-funded by The Thompson Family Charitable Trust in memory of David Thompson CBE.
Ilan Kurtser is studying on the Advanced Diploma course at the Academy, under the guidance of Michael Dussek, James Baillieu and Malcolm Martineau. He is in great demand internationally as a recital partner. He is a member of the Academy Song Circle, a Leeds Lieder Young Artist and the winner of the two major accompaniment prizes at the Academy. As part of his Bicentenary Scholarship this year, he will be recording a double CD album of the complete Goethe-Lieder by Hugo Wolf.
Ilan studied at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel-Aviv with Asaf Zohar. He has participated in the David Goldman Chamber Music Program for Outstanding Young Musicians and in numerous international festivals around the world.
Ilan is very thankful to have been a scholar of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation from 2010 to 2020. He was also awarded
the Help Musicians Accompanist’s Prize in memory of Arthur and Gwyneth Harrison at the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Ilan’s scholarship is co-funded by the Sir Jack Lyons Charitable Trust.
Violinist Charlie Lovell-Jones made his debut at a sold-out Royal Festival Hall aged 15. He has since performed solos with major orchestras in the UK, Ireland and Japan, where he received public commendation from the Sendai International Music Competition Jury Chair. Recently, he has been a high-scoring semi-finalist at the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition, performed at the Andermatt Music Festival, and led the Sinfonia of London in its debut BBC Prom as well as several of its recent recordings.
He won a University of Oxford Gibbs Prize for the highest first-class Musicology degree and is now studying at the Academy with his long-term teacher, Rodney Friend. He has enjoyed masterclasses with Ida Haendel, Anne-Sophie Mutter, James Ehnes, Leonidas Kavakos and Pinchas Zukerman.
Charlie’s 2021/22 season includes performances of violin concertos by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Coleridge-Taylor and Beethoven, and recitals at the Beaminster, Bloomsbury and Isle of Wight music festivals and Stapleford Granary.
As a J&A Beare Violin Society Artist, he plays a 1777 Giovanni Battista Guadagnini violin, generously loaned by a private benefactor. His scholarship is co-funded by Jean-Charles and Luce Julien and Ingrid and Amit Dé.
Pianist Aidan Mikdad is studying with Professor Joanna MacGregor. In June 2021, he graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with a Bachelor’s degree in music, receiving a perfect score and the highest honour, summa cum laude.
Aidan has participated from a young age in international piano competitions and has won numerous prizes. At the age of 11 he won first prize in the Koninklijk Concertgebouw Concours. The following year he came first in the Lagny-sur-Marne International Piano Competition, and in 2015 he received the Klavier-Festival Ruhr Scholarship, awarded to him by pianist Hélène Grimaud. Other competition successes include winning the Premio Internazionale Pianistico A Scriabin, the prestigious Royal Concertgebouw Young Talent Award, the Tabor Foundation Piano Award at the Verbier Festival and the Pnina Salzman Memorial Prize at the Tel-Hai International Piano Master Classes in Israel.
He has been coached by many notable musicians including Sergei Babayan, Dmitri Bashkirov, Nelson Goerner, Richard Goode, Sir András Schiff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Arie Vardi.
Cellist Edvard Pogossian is studying for his Advanced Diploma at the Academy with John Myerscough. He is also in his fourth year as Artist in Residence at the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel, Belgium, where he studies with Gary Hoffman. He previously studied at The Juilliard School with Natasha Brofsky, and the Royal College of Music with Richard Lester.
In 2016, as the winner of the Juilliard Concerto Competition, Edvard performed Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme at David Geffen Hall in New York and at the Harris Theater in Chicago with the Juilliard Orchestra under the direction of Itzhak Perlman. He was also the winner of the inaugural Los Angeles Philharmonic Young Artists Competition in 2011, giving him the honour of playing Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No 1 with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra in Walt Disney Hall.
He studied in Los Angeles with Paul Cohen and Rick Mooney, and later spent two years studying with Ronald Leonard at the Colburn Young Artists Academy. He represented The Juilliard School at various high-profile occasions, including a performance for the First Lady of China. Edvard was a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship throughout his four years at Juilliard.
Joshua Ryan is an organist at the Academy, studying with Professor David Titterington. He is the Organ Scholar at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where he regularly accompanies the professional choir at weekly services and concerts. He has previously held positions as Assistant Director of Music at St Michael’s, Croydon, and Assistant Organist at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.
Joshua also studies the harpsichord with James Johnstone and Pawel Siwczak, and choral conducting with Patrick Russill. He
is regularly involved in projects with period and modern ensembles as a soloist and continuo player. He has also given the premieres of new works for organ by Morgan Hayes as part of the Academy’s 200 PIECES Bicentenary project. In addition to his instrumental studies, he is researching how the interpretation of English Virginalist music is influenced by historical instruments. In 2021, Joshua was made an Associate of the Royal College of Organists.
Before coming to the Academy, Joshua graduated with a first-class Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. During his time there, he received numerous academic prizes and scholarships, including the prestigious University Medal.
Soprano Luiza Willert is studying on the Royal Academy Opera course with Nuccia Focile and Ingrid Surgenor. She sang as a chorister and soloist in the Coro Vozes do Vale in Itajaí, Santa Catarina, and studied at the School of Music and Fine Arts of Paraná, then with tenor Paulo Mandarino
at the Theatro Municipal de São Paulo Opera Studio.
In 2018, Luiza was the soprano soloist in Mozart’s Requiem at the 13th Festival de Música de Santa Catarina (FEMUSC). In 2019, she performed in two professional opera productions, as First Lady in Die Zauberflöte and Bastienne in Bastien und Bastienne. She subsequently played the part of Annina in La traviata at the 15th FEMUSC. With Royal Academy Opera, she recently sang La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi.
In 2020, she won Best Soprano at the 18th Brazilian Singing Contest Maria Callas. She came joint first for Best Soprano at the Linus Lerner International Singing Competition and won three artistic awards and a performance award at the Festival Amazonas de Ópera.
Luiza’s scholarship is co-funded by the Fordyce Award and the Fairfield Trust.
Liam Bonthrone Singing, Tenor (Opera)
Camilla Harris Singing, Soprano (Opera)
Ossian Huskinson Singing, Bar/Bass (Opera)
Ha Min (Daniel) Go, Cello
Do Gyung (Anna) Im, Violin
Charles Lovell-Jones, Violin
Julie Park, Viola
Margarita Balanas, Cello
Roberts Balanas, Violin
Camilla Harris Singing, Soprano (Opera)
Ossian Huskinson Singing, Bar/Bass (Opera)
James Orford, Organ
Ariel-Shimon Lanyi-Umansky, Piano
Anna Geniushene, PFT
Claudia Lucia Lamanna, Harp
Emily Nebel, Violin
Yoanna Prodanova, Viola