caught up with some former students to find out about the different
directions their careers have taken them since graduating from
American soprano Chanáe Curtis studied at the
Manhattan School of Music before graduating from the MA Opera
Performance programme at RWCMD. Highlights include performing for
HRH The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace; with the Hallé
Orchestra; and the role of Anna Gomez in The Consul at
Welsh National Opera. This season, Chanáe makes her debut at the
Metropolitan Opera New York performing the role of Annie, whilst
covering the role of Lily, in Porgy & Bess.
Alis Huws became the new Official Harpist to
HRH The Prince of Wales before graduating from her course at RWCMD.
Alis has also represented the Welsh Government in Japan and across
Europe and is the Youth Coordinator for the World Harp Congress
2020, which will be held in Cardiff.
Joanne Higginbottom completed an internship
with Tyler Bates in Los Angeles whilst in her final year of study.
After graduating, Joanne went to work for Tyler and has since
co-composed Primal, Samurai Jack, The
Public (Emilio Estevez); score co-produced for The Spy Who
Dumped Me; and provided additional music for Fast &
Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Guardians of the
Galaxy 1 & 2, John Wick 1, 2 & 3,
Marvel’s The Punisher and Deadpool 2.
Tianyi Lu is making a name for herself across
the continents as Assistant Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony
Orchestra, a Dudamel Fellow with the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the St. Woolos Sinfonia in the UK
and from August 2019, she will be the Associate Female
Conductor-in-Residence with Welsh National Opera. This
international outset of her career includes collaborations with
Hallé Orchestra, Dallas Opera Orchestra, Royal Welsh College of
Music & Drama Symphony Orchestra, Bristol Metropolitan
Orchestra, Sydney Symphony and Auckland Philharmonia.
Since completing his BMus at RWCMD, drummer Ollie
Howell has established himself as a film/TV composer,
multi-instrumentalist and producer. Ollie has written music for
multi-award winning films and international TV series and his work
has been screened at film festivals around the world. Ollie has
also released two jazz albums and toured the world, receiving
critical acclaim. A protégé of Quincy jones, whom he first
performed for at RWCMD, Ollie is also the only ever jazz recipient
of a prestigious Sky Academy Arts Scholarship.
Justina Gringyte is a Lithuanian mezzo soprano
who completed her MMus studies at RWCMD, before going on to study
at London’s National Opera Studio. She has performed in opera
houses across the world, reprising the role of Carmen to critical
acclaim, and was awarded Young Singer of the Year in the 2015
International Opera Awards. Justina also performs regularly with
the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow where her performances include
Maddalena in Rigoletto and Marguerite in La damnation
de Faust. Recent highlights include roles with Korean National
Opera, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera as well as concert
performances at Wigmore Hall and with CBSO at the BBC Proms.
While studying at RWCMD, US-born Euphonium player Grant
Jameson won the Best Soloist prize at the 2014 Welsh Open
and the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Award, among several others.
Grant is a Besson Performing Artist and is also the Musical
Director of the Severn Tunnel Band. He performs with his euphonium
quartet, Eu4ia, arranges new works for euphonium, and does
educational outreach work as a Yeoman of The Musicians’
Welsh Tenor Trystan Griffiths studied for the
MA Opera Performance at RWCMD, before completing his training at
the National Opera Studio. He made his professional operatic début
performing the role of Ferrando in Scottish Opera’s touring
production of Cosi fan tutte and has since performed in
productions with Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Opéra National
de Lorraine and Zürich Opera, as well as appearing on the BBC Proms
in 2016. He has performed with artists including Katherine Jenkins
and Sir Bryn Terfel and with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Upcoming highlights
include roles with Garsington Opera, Scottish Opera and Dutch
After studying for his MA in Choral Conducting at RWCMD,
Edward-Rhys Harry has gone on to conduct and
compose for choirs and instrumentalists all over the world. He is
currently the Conductor-in-Residence of the British Sinfonietta
Orchestra, and he also runs a development programme for choral
conductors through ‘The Harry Ensemble’, a choir dedicated to the
performance and promotion of British choral music abroad.
Percussionist Dave Danford works throughout the
UK and abroad, playing in live concerts for Alfie Boe, Evelyn
Glennie, Karl Jenkins, Bryn Terfel and Russell Watson. He has
performed with professional orchestras, for West End theatre
productions including Jim Steinman’s Bat out of Hell the
Musical, as a soloist and in a variety of session recordings.
His work also includes composition, arrangement and musical
production and as an established orchestral contractor, he is
responsible for managing the British Sinfonietta, the Cinematic
Sinfonia and the Welsh Session Orchestra.
London-based soloist, chamber, orchestral and contemporary
pianist Dawn Hardwick, completed her BMus studies
at RWCMD. She is now the member-director of the original six-piano
ensemble, Piano Circus, who are at the forefront of commissioning
and performing new works for multiple pianos. Dawn has wide
experience as a soloist, most recently performing John Psathas’
double concerto View From Olympus for amplified piano and
percussion with Dame Evelyn Glennie.
After completing his BMus at RWCMD, saxophonist Joel
Garthwaite went on to postgraduate study at the Guildhall
School of Music and Drama. His performance work has centred on the
Lunar Saxophone Quartet, which formed at RWCMD. His career also
includes delivering seminars and event management. He is a
Professional Development Consultant for the Incorporated Society of
Musicians (ISM), and the Founder and Co-Director of Bright Ivy
Artist Management. He is currently the Head of Marketing and New
Business at Invicomm.
While studying viola as an undergraduate at RWCMD, Toks
Dada developed an interest in arts management and
established the successful contemporary music ensemble, Sinfonia
Newydd. He went on to complete an MA in Arts Management at RWCMD
and is now Classical Programme Manager at Town Hall and Symphony
Hall, Birmingham. Toks is also a spokesperson for diversity and
inclusion within the music profession and a Non-Executive Director
of Welsh National Opera.
Tic Ashfield is a BAFTA Cymru award-winning
composer and sound designer who completed her BMus and MMus studies
at RWCMD. Her work spans television drama and documentary,
animation projects, theatre and dance collaborations. A member of
John Hardy Music, she co-composed the soundtrack for the BBC One
drama series, Hinterland. Tic is also an enthusiastic and
inspirational music tutor and workshop leader.
Adam Cross is a multi-instrumentalist who
completed his MMus at RWCMD after gaining a BMus from the
University of Birmingham. He works in theatre as a member of the
Royal Shakespeare Company, and also composes. Adam’s highlights
include contributing music to the BAFTA nominated short film
Marfa and co-writing music and songs for the play
Busking It, which premiered at the Soho Theatre in Autumn
2018. Adam is the founder of the British band Klezmer
David Doidge studied piano as an undergraduate
at RWCMD before specialising as a répétiteur in opera and vocal
coaching at postgraduate level. On completing his studies, he
became a full time member of the music staff at Welsh National
Opera. David has accompanied leading vocalists including Bryn
Terfel and Rebecca Evans.
Helen Nash has been enjoying international
success as the cellist in the leading electric string quartet,
Escala. As a pianist, she has performed with Pink, Nicole
Scherzinger, Jessie J, Robbie Williams and Olly Murs, and has
appeared on some of the UK’s most popular TV shows including The
Graham Norton Show, The X Factor and Strictly
Come Dancing. She has played at venues ranging from The Ritz
to the Royal Albert Hall, the Millennium Stadium and the O2
Trumpeter Jonny Bruce emerged onto the UK jazz
scene as a member of the Dave Stapleton Quintet (Edition Records).
His current projects include the Bruce/Ilett Big Band, The Zen
Hussies, Moscow Drug Club, Swing Machine Jazz Orchestra, and Jonny
Bruce Band: Tribute to The Trumpet Kings to name a few. Jonny is
also in demand as a guest soloist and session player, both live and
in the studio. As a teacher, he offers tuition on brass instruments
across a range of styles.
After graduating from RWCMD, Mark David Boden
completed an MMus in Advanced Composition at the Royal College of
Music before returning to RWCMD as a member of the music staff. His
work is published by Cadenza Music and has been performed by
ensembles including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the
London Philharmonic Orchestra. His music has also been broadcast on
BBC Radio 3.
Nathan Stone is the cellist with the Vulcan
String Quartet, which has collaborated on studio albums and stadium
concerts with the Manic Street Preachers – he is pictured at their
Cardiff studio. Nathan has worked on strings arrangements and
recordings for more than 100 artists worldwide including Roger
Daltrey, The Proclaimers and Charlotte Church.
Matthew Williams studied for his BMus at RWCMD
and as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music. He has
appeared as Principal Trumpet with leading UK orchestras including
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Royal