Gwyn Williams Bursary Concert ~ Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

It was an evening to remember at Birmingham Conservatoire’s Bradshaw Hall on Sunday 5 May, with a bevy of musicians out in force to support and raise money for the Gwyn Williams Bursary fund. The Bursary, has been set up in memory of the late Gwyn Williams who, amongst other credits, was the leader of the Viola section in the jewel in Birmingham’s crown, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The Bursary benefits and supports talented, up and coming young violists at the Conservatoire.

Nick Bailey, our host for the evening

The concert featured a cornucopia of classical delights and quite rightly, the Viola was the star of the show. The first voice of Classic FM, Nick Bailey played host as we were treated to music from the superb John Wilson on piano, accompanying Chris Yates who now leads the Viola section of the CBSO – they kicked off the varied programme. Arpeggione Sonata, D.821 (Schubert) was the opening piece and set the tone for the rest of the inspirational evening. Wilson and Yates went on to accompany one of my all-time favourite performers, Yvonne Howard, who sang Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano (Brahms). Later on, she treated us to a stunning rendition of Casta Diva from the Bellini Opera ‘Norma’. The artists accompanying Howard’s memorable performance were a mesmerising Quartet by the name of The Behn Quartet. The talented girls who make up the string Quartet also played String Quartet No. 1 in E minor (“From My Life”) (Smetana). Peter O’Connor, flautist, was also a welcome addition to the accompaniment for Casta Diva and he entertained us thoroughly at the close of the evening in a double act with pianist, John Wilson, with Carnevale di Venezia, Op.78 (Briccialdi).

Mezzo Soprano, Yvonne Howard

One of the most poignant performances (and there were many!) was courtesy of two nineteen year old students from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Yuxin Chen played Viola beautifully, with Yang Bai on piano – they gave us a rousing rendition of Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. It was a fantastically dramatic display and quite literally music to my ears!

This amazing concert would not have been possible if it hadn’t have been for Gwyn Williams’ widow, Stephannie who organised the event. As a string player myself (although I’m a very rusty violinist!), I appreciate the support that such a Bursary provides for up and coming musicians and long may it continue to benefit all who need it.

Gwyn Williams Bursary Concert ~ Royal Birmingham Conservatoire ~ 5th May 2019

This event is not to be missed and I can’t wait to review the concert on behalf of Entertainment Views, it’s fantastic that the Gwyn Williams Bursary exists to support young violists at Birmingham Conservatoire. The details sourced from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire website, are below – try to get hold of a ticket if you can! Tickets are free of charge with a suggested donation of £30.

Introduced by Nick Bailey

Yvonne Howard mezzo-soprano
Maria Jagusz mezzo-soprano
Peter O’Connor flute
Rebecca Stubbs viola
Chris Yates viola
John Wilson piano

The Behn Quartet
Kate Oswin and Alicia Berendse violin
Ana Teresa de Braga e Alves viola
Ghislaine McMullin cello

Programme to include:
Schubert Arpeggione Sonata, D.821
Brahms Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano
Smetana String Quartet No.1 in E minor (“From My Life”)
Bellini Casta Diva
Schubert Ave Maria
Briccialdi Carnevale di Venezia, Op.78

A special benefit concert to raise funds for the Gwyn Williams Bursary Fund, which supports talented young violists at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. The evening will be introduced by the first voice of Classic FM, Nick Bailey and feature performances by current students of the Conservatoire and professional musicians who knew and worked with Gwyn.

Spaces for this event are extremely limited so early booking is advised. Please contact Robin Leonard on 0121 331 5534 or at robin.leonard@bcu.ac.uk for all ticket enquiries.

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