Violist Bryony Gibson-Cornish moved to London last year to study at the Royal College of Music. Here she shares what she’s been up to.
It has been a very busy six months since I moved to London in September to pursue an Artist Diploma at the Royal College of Music. I have enjoyed every minute of living in my new home so far and I’m so grateful to my family and various foundations and organisations for their support.
I have had the opportunity to play for viola (and violin!) legends such as Lawrence Power, Maxim Rysanov, Jennifer Stumm and Pinchas Zukerman, and I’m looking forward to working with Thomas Riebl in March at the International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove. I was also able to improve my orchestral excerpt skills in a video-conference masterclass called the Global Auditioning Training Project. This was a collaboration between teachers and students from RCM, Cleveland Institute, New World Symphony, Royal Danish Orchestra and Shanghai Conservatory and it was very interesting to gain global perspectives on the art of orchestral auditions.
Of course my viola lessons have been a central part of my study at the RCM and Andriy Viytovych has been a supportive and committed teacher from the moment I arrived. It is wonderful to have someone who I can rely on as a coach and mentor, especially at a time that is very crucial for my musical development. He has expertly guided me in my preparation for the Tertis International Viola Competition, which I will be competing very soon. In preparation for Tertis, I also visited New Zealand to perform in the Gisborne International Music Competition, where I won the Pultron Composites Prize for the Best Performance of a New Zealand Work – a particularly special award because I was playing Salina Fisher’s “Reflect”, a work that Salina wrote for me. I also competed at the Yamaha Foundation of Europe Music Awards recently, where I won a scholarship towards career development.
Alongside my focus on solo playing, I have had the pleasure of serving as principal in the RCM Symphony Orchestra. Highlights of the year include playing Mahler 9 with Juraj Valčuha and taking part in a celebration of the trumpet repertoire with Håkan Hardenberger. I have also found some like-minded chamber musicians to collaborate with and my group is looking forward to a performance in Wigmore Hall later in the year.
I have also started playing in professional orchestras in the UK: firstly with the London Symphony Orchestra as a participant in their String Experience Scheme and secondly through some trials. I am excited to have been offered trials for the Sub-Principal Position with the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff and the No.4 Position with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. I’m really looking forward to working with these orchestras, with particular highlights being a Philharmonia concert tour of Rachmaninov with Vladimir Ashkenazy and a season of Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci at WNO.
I feel very lucky to be studying at an institution like the Royal College of Music where I feel supported in my career pursuits and I am so glad to have made the move to London. I am very grateful for my full-fees Ian Evans Lombe Scholarship from the RCM, which has enabled me to really focus on viola at this crucial period in my career. Of course, it goes without saying that I am also incredibly grateful to all of the organisations and foundations that supported me throughout my Master of Music degree at The Juilliard School – the opportunity to build on the education that I received there and in New Zealand is one which I value very highly.
Thank you in particular to the Dame Malvina Major Foundation – not only for their generous financial support, but also for the many performance opportunities offered to us. I will always have fond memories of the “Share The Dream” concert at the Isaac Theatre Royal in June 2015.