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RWCMD guitarists awarded Julian Bream scholarships

Luke Bartlett and Oliver Manning are the first RWCMD students to be awarded scholarships from the Julian Bream Trust.

The Julian Bream Trust

Final year students Luke Bartlett, and Oliver Manning, who graduated this year, have been awarded full scholarships from the Julian Bream Trust to support their ongoing training.

The Trust, set up by the late Julian Bream, legendary guitarist and friend of the College, supports exceptionally gifted students of classical guitar to pursue their studies.

In July Oliver and Luke were nominated by the College to audition for the scholarship, in front of another guitar legend, Julian Bream’s duo partner, John Williams.

‘It's a tremendous achievement and honour for Luke and Ollie to both be awarded Julian Bream scholarships and to have their own artistry recognised at this early stage in their careers; I couldn't be prouder of them both.‘
Helen SandersonHead of Guitar Performance

Auditioning in front of guitarist John Williams

Luke and Oliver talked to us about auditioning before a guitar hero, studying at RWCMD, and what it means to them to be a Julian Bream scholar.

Both spent time chatting to John Williams before and after their audition.

‘He was incredibly kind, and very generous with his time,’ said Oliver. 'Before I performed for him we spoke about music, and the legacy that my all-time hero, the late Julian Bream has left behind.

After my performance he gave me tips and feedback, as well as offering career advice. I have never left an audition with such a wide smile on my face!’

Luke Bartlett, Julian Bream Trust scholar

Luke agreed: ‘It was obviously a slightly nervous experience to play for John Williams, but he made the audition very relaxed and informal, where we chatted extensively about the art of guitar playing and I played some of the repertoire that has been inspiring me recently.’

Support for their studies

‘It's a real privilege to be part of Julian's dream and legacy of supporting exciting and creative young players, and to be selected for this scholarship means everything to me,’ said Luke.

‘Like many students, I found myself struggling to cover the costs of studying a postgraduate degree in music,' said Oliver. 'With the support of The Julian Bream Trust, I can now move forward with my plans and begin studying for a postgraduate degree at the Royal College of Music, starting in September.

Oliver and Head of Guitar Performance, Helen Sanderson on RWCMD graduation day, July 2023

Cross departmental collaboration

‘None of this would have been possible without RWCMD's encouragement of cross department collaboration,’ continued Oliver.

‘The skills that I have developed while working outside of my comfort zone as a solo guitar performer has enriched my approach to creating and sharing music for the better.

The College's approach to versatility and diversification of skills has given me a skillset that most other music graduates lack.'
Oliver Manning
‘I've worked extensively on developing my unique voice as a musician with RWCMD's world-class team of guitar professors; Helen Sanderson, John Mills and Zoran Dukic.

There's nowhere I would rather have gone for my undergraduate training.'
Luke Bartlett

Studying guitar at RWCMD

Oliver continues, 'Of course, I owe a huge amount to my teacher at RWCMD, Helen Sanderson, who has always encouraged me to pursue my own musical artistry, and to be confident in exploring original interpretations of the music I share - something I have found lots of luck with. 

Our lessons often involved discussing abstract connections and narratives behind the music.'

'I'm most proud of being my own musician with a unique voice, and not a clone of someone else - something that Helen has encouraged since Day One at RWCMD.'
Oliver Manning

'Finally, my tuition from RWCMD's visiting guitar tutor John Mills (former student of John Williams and former RWCMD Head of Guitar Performance) has been incredibly eye opening. 

John's approach to historical technique and his seemingly infinite knowledge of 20th century music has had a profound effect on my development as a concert performer.'

Luke concludes, 'I'm now looking forward to my final year at RWCMD, further developing and presenting the music that I believe shows the guitar in its most exciting way.’

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