Congratulations to our Junior Conservatoire who recently celebrated its 20th year!
Head of Pre-College, Patricia Keir, reflects on the last two decades:
“Ten years ago, I had the privilege of leading the 10th birthday celebrations for our Junior Conservatoire, reflecting on the department’s beginnings in 1996 and the rapid growth in student numbers from an initial intake of 20. We began to quickly expand our performance programmes to include large-scale concerts and concerto opportunities, and introduced weekly chamber music coaching as well as other course enhancements.
Throughout, it has been an inspiration to witness so many talented students progressing through our courses, on into higher education, then out into the music profession. Some of them have gone full circle and themselves become junior conservatoire tutors, coaches, deputies and auxiliaries, thereby becoming part of a very talented workforce to support many future generations of Welsh musicians. That’s a wonderful legacy.
During this second decade, the pace of change at College has been exceptional. We often reflect when performing in the College’s stunning Dora Stouzker Hall and Foyer area that their site was once the College’s car park!
What a delight it has been to be part of this transformation and to enable Junior Conservatoire children and young people to build their performing skills in such state of the art surroundings. Such facilities bring out the very best in people and offer a fitting platform to match the talent and aspiration shown by the young people we work with each weekend.
Under a decade of leadership by our out-going Principal, Dame Hilary Boulding, the College has unveiled these landmark buildings, launched sector-leading undergraduate and postgraduate courses and become a major arts centre for Wales.
As the Pre College department, we have been delighted to play a significant part in this, quickly expanding our offer for children and young people to include specialist acting courses, summer schools and outreach activity.
A hugely important moment came in 2008 when we launched our Young Actors Studio at the Royal Welsh College on Sundays. With a satellite Young Actors Studio now well established in Pembrokeshire College and with Young Actors students taking a third of the first year places on the College’s prestigious BA Acting Course – out of over 1,500 applications – my Young Actors colleagues have achieved a remarkable first decade.
Of inestimable value too is our outreach and summer school activity, connecting the College with over ten thousand children a year.
I’d like to pay tribute to our committed, talented staff, to the families who provide such huge support for their children’s musical journey and to the generous bursary funders without whom so very many of our students would be unable to benefit from the tuition on offer. Thank you.
Looking ahead, we passionately believe that we have the potential to reach many more children and young people across Wales and plan for more Young Actors Studio centres, a ‘virtual’ Junior Music Conservatoire, new junior courses in stage management and theatre design and more outreach activity when funding becomes available.
There are many rising stars within our courses, so do watch this space.”
This article originally appeared in The Western Mail’s University View
The feature image shows Junior Conservatoire student Charlotte Kwok performing for HRH The Prince of Wales at the College’s 2016 Buckingham Palace Royal Gala.