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Music Conservatoire Success for West Sussex Music students

Five students who study orchestral instruments with West Sussex Music at The College of Richard Collyer have been successful in their applications to their chosen music conservatoire. The students are Gemma Cowieson, Archie Freeman, Luca Imperiale, Georgia Smith, and Nathaniel Taberner-Smith.

Leader for Secondary School Engagement at West Sussex Music and Collyer’s Director of Music, Ben Dowsett explained: “The musicians were required to audition on their chosen instrument, as well as submitting a written application in which they had to demonstrate their technical and academic ability, and most of all their overall musicianship. There is significant competition for places at music conservatoires, often from students who have studied in the independent sector or at junior conservatoires. 

The success for these students is largely down to their huge talents and the unique partnership between West Sussex Music and Collyer’s; an environment where outstanding musical potential can flourish.”

Gemma Cowieson said: “Receiving an offer from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Leeds Conservatoire was something I had originally thought would not have been possible, but thanks to the encouragement from friends, my A Level music classmates and teachers at Collyers, I was not only fully supported but inspired to pursue my studies as a pianist. I’m extremely grateful to my piano teacher Sue Chan, and Alison Sutton, who have provided me with invaluable advice and support throughout my time at college.”

Archie Freeman said: “I’m delighted and relieved to have secured a place at the Royal Northern College of Music to study violin.  It would not have been possible without the support of the college’s music department, the tutors at West Sussex Youth Orchestra, and particularly that of our fantastic pianist, Alison Sutton.

Luca Imperiale said: “It is with great excitement that I have accepted my place at the Royal College of Music to study recorder in the historical performance department, with clarinet as my second study. To have been offered a place at RCM with a scholarship towards my tuition fees is a very exciting prospect indeed. 

“I would like at this point to mention what a fabulous help and support Collyer’s and West Sussex Music have been during the application process, in particular Ben Dowsett for his invaluable support and advice, and Avril Lynskey for her help.”

Georgia Smith said: “Being offered a place at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Drama has been a big confidence boost for me and is a huge privilege.

“Studying the subject I love has been extremely challenging during the pandemic, but the encouragement I have received from my teachers, in particular Ben Dowsett, and my friends has ensured that I stayed on the right path.”

Jazz Saxophonist Nathaniel Taberner-Smith said: “I’m thrilled and excited to be offered a place at Leeds Conservatoire.”

The music experiences and opportunities offered by West Sussex Music at Collyer’s has played a major role in bringing the students to the standard required for applying to conservatoire. The students had to audition for some places in person and others by submitting online videos, and then having online interviews.

Ben Dowsett added: “To help the students prepare they have had multiple performance opportunities and Collyer’s has contributed heavily towards their instrumental lesson costs and for them to have accompaniment rehearsals with our accompanist Alison Sutton.”

In addition to their studies at Collyer’s, the students enhance their performing opportunities as members of West Sussex Music groups and ensembles which are based at Collyer’s.

James Underwood, Chief Executive of West Sussex Music said: “We’re so proud of the students. The journey to music college takes many years of practice and significant commitment, both in individual practice and playing in ensembles. Maintaining that level of focus during the pandemic has been exceptionally challenging when performance opportunities were so restricted. To see these young musicians’ progress through our Horsham Music Centre groups, then into our County Ensembles has been so rewarding for their teachers. I wish each of them all the very best for the part of their exciting musical journey.”

Images provided by Tilly Stone

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