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MA Opera performance student wins first Royal Welsh College Ian Stoutzker Prize

MA Opera Performance student Reisha Adams took time out from rehearsals at Glyndebourne to win the final of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama’s inaugural Ian Stoutzker Prize for outstanding musicianship. Her prize of £10,000 was awarded by a distinguished panel chaired by internationally renowned conductor Carlo Rizzi.

Reisha made her professional debut with Glyndebourne Festival Opera in April and has just graduated as the leading student in her College cohort (MA Opera Performance), singing at the graduation ceremony in St David’s Hall.

“It’s been a great pleasure to chair the panel of the first Ian Stouzker Prize,” said Carlo Rizzi. “The high standard of the three finalists made it a very difficult decision: it’s always great to see such gifted young people who are so committed to the cause of music and art. I wish all the three contestant the very best for their future, and would like to point out how incredibly important this prize is for Reisha, the winner, as a means to improve, to further her musical studies and to get precious experience while entering the profession.”

Reisha adds, “It’s such an incredible honour to be the first winner of the Ian Stoutzker Prize. The money alone will help me in so many ways, I’ll be able to buy new scores, have regular vocal and coaching lessons, and to attend auditions further afield. In particular, however, the prestige of this prize will put me on the right path to future success. I cannot express how immensely thankful I am.”

The competition, which was open to all RWCMD students, reached its climax in RWCMD’s new world-class chamber recital hall, The Dora Stoutzker Hall. The prestigious jury, put together broadly to reflect the instrumental specialisms of the three finalists, included Donald Maxwell, Crispian Steele-Perkins and Benjamin Frith – all of whom have close links with the College.

The other two finalists were Tianhong Yang (Piano) and postgraduate Byron Newton (Euphonium). Tianhong was RWCMD’s first Steinway Scholar and won first prize in the RWCMD concerto competition in 2009, the only first year student to achieve this. Byron (aka Buzz) is Principal Euphonium with Tredegar Town Band, and has won numerous awards including Best Soloist Welsh Open 2012 and the Russell Sheppard Trust Scholarship 2011.

“I am pleased that the College has agreed to establish this annual prize for a student with outstanding talent and potential and I am delighted that with such a distinguished panel of judges it is being organized so meaningfully and as an integral part of College life,“ said Ian Stoutzker, OBE.

Director of Music, John Cranmer commented, “To secure such a world-class team of musicians to the jury is a fantastic reflection on the professional standing of the College and the calibre of our students. The final has been the highlight of an exceptionally strong musical calendar.”

Principal Hilary Boulding adds, “We are very grateful to Ian for his generosity in establishing a prize which will support such a highly talented young musician from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to progress towards a career in music. For many years, Ian has been unstinting in his support for young professional musicians through Live Music Now. This prize is a further testament to his dedication to young musical talent. And of course, it’s very exciting that the prize final takes place in the beautiful chamber hall that carries Ian’s mother’s name.”

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