A Burntisland pianist has been selected to take part in a prestigious international music programme.
Piano student Connor Wilcox came through a testing audition process for the new initiative which provides a rare opportunity for music students to explore the highly specialised artistry of ballet pianism.
They benefit from mentoring, observation and practical sessions with pianists working full-time at Elmhurst Ballet School, the associate school of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Connor, and fellow student Yung-Li Chen, from Taiwan, were the only two to take part in the scheme, marking the first collaboration between Elmhurst Ballet School and Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Cellist and conductor Julian Lloyd Webber is principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and was delighted to welcome Connor on to the Placement for Pianists programme.
“Royal Birmingham Conservatoire pays care and attention to musicians as entrepreneurs, preparing our students for the opportunities and challenges presented by the future of the profession, and with the intention that they leave us as employable music professionals,” he said.
“Unique partnerships such as this one with Elmhurst Ballet School ensure that we are continually fulfilling our promise.
“I am delighted that this partnership with Elmhurst has come to fruition – the combination of some of the country’s best young dancers and pianists working together is simply electrifying, and exemplifies our joint ethos of wanting to further embed ourselves within the city we serve.
“It is fantastic that the placement will continue next year and I am excited to see in which other directions our partnership follows.”
Over the last four months, Connor and Yung-Li have attended 10 programme sessions at the Edgbaston-based ballet school, observed and played for ballet classes, spent a day observing pianists at Birmingham Royal Ballet and benefited from one-to-one tutorials with Elmhurst’s pianists Mikael Petersson and Elaine Li, both also graduates of the renowned Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Mikael Petersson, Elmhurst’s music planning co-ordinator and pianist, said: “The art world needs to be accessible to more people, so it’s vital for arts venues, training establishments and artists to reach out to wider audiences.
“It can begin with projects like the Placement Programme for Pianists, where young musicians meet with young dancers and new ideas are born.
“As a former Conservatoire student, I realised during my student years the importance of establishing a professional network well before the completion of the degree.
“Finding work is increasingly dependent on an individual’s ability to take initiative and reach out to work places.
“This scheme facilitates taking those first steps so entering the profession is a little easier.
“I hope by working together in this way, two of the world’s leading performing arts institutions and their talented students will continue to inspire each other.”