On Tuesday evening I took part in the final of the John Fussell Award in the Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea. After a stressful few weeks running the summer exams at the Royal Academy of Music, I really wasn’t sure how the competition would go, but with a £2,000 prize up for grabs to support my studies next year, I knew I had to go for it.
I have to honestly admit that I don’t attend anywhere near enough concerts. Apart from the fact that I barely have enough time to get my own harp out of its dust cover, because our lives often drain us of energy (and of course, money), going to a concert on a Thursday evening when you could just as easily run on home to put on your pjs seems like such an unappealing option. However, the events I always make the most effort to attend are harp festivals, because as well as catching up with wonderful colleagues and friends, and meeting new ones, there are often a lot of events in one place that I can cram into that busy weekend.
When I was younger, I was sucked into the culture – as many children (and parents) are – of thinking that once I’ve performed a piece, that’s it. I’m done with that now. That might have been ok when I was doing grade 3 and looking forward to being able to say that I was now preparing for grade 4. (I’m sure many a teacher would agree that this can be such a frustrating issue, that many students and their parents only measure success by the grade number, ignoring the importance of extending repertoire and the joy that can be found outside the lists of exam pieces.) I’m sure that as a child, I was convinced that performing the same piece again would be the easiest thing in the world, but now I’m acutely aware not only of how necessary it is, but also what a challenge it usually is.
A few months ago, I was finally able to return for a while to New York after accepting an incredible opportunity to perform with Côrdydd in Carnegie Hall! It was great to be able to share the stage with other Welsh musicians, and to share some of the beautiful music of Wales with those across the pond again.
The year has flown! A week ago, I saw pictures galore of friends and colleagues donning their gowns and hats and carefully chosen outfits for that (hopefully) steady walk across the stage to collect their degrees. Then I thought, hang on, that was me a whole year ago!
I’ve recently come back from a fantastic trip to Hollywood celebrating Richard Burton and his Star on the Walk of Fame. Na joio! It was great catching up with fellow alums and meeting current students, as well as talking to stars such as Michael Sheen.