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Study Abroad: Composition Student Derri’s Term in Zürich

17 February 2020

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Each year our students have the opportunity to apply for a variety of placements across Europe through the Study Abroad scheme.

This scheme gives current students a unique and amazing chance to spend a term living and experiencing a different culture with all the excitement and inspiration that it brings. As Derri says, it’s a total “life experience”.

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the land of toblerone and holey cheese

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“Erasmus and Study Abroad schemes are embedded into our Music courses and they can be hugely valuable vehicles for personal and musical development,” said Zoe Smith, Head of Postgraduate Programmes.

“The opportunity to broaden your horizons through studying abroad is priceless. Spending time in a new environment, meeting new people and learning about yourself and your music in new ways can make a huge difference, boosting confidence and life skills. Returning students seem more independent and clearly enthusiastic about following a career path with a more global perspective. They also have a network of friends from around the world, as well as a fresh outlook on their own creative endeavours.”

Final-year Composition student Derri Lewis spent Autumn term in Zürich.

He chatted to us about his experience, where he seized every opportunity the placement offered, taking him from Zürich University of the Arts to the Zürich Opera House.

Tell us about your time in Zürich…

“The city is a vibrant place, buzzing with activity with so many orchestras, plays and bands on, not to mention great restaurants and bars! I was excited to meet new people from different countries and couldn’t wait to experience a new culture and city.

“I was mostly on placement at Zürich Opera House and studying composition and German in the Zürich University of the Arts, before observing Mark Anthony Turnage’s Coraline on the Opera House main stage.

“Meeting the singers of the production helped me learn more about considering drama within music and writing for different voice types.

“I also took the opportunity to practice speaking German and gain some real independence. Setting up in a new city was daunting but rewarding.

“It was more than just about the music – it was a life experience.”

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ja ja janáček

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How did the College help you prepare for it?

“Public speaking and conducting lessons really helped my confidence. I was already familiar with Swiss and German music through repertoire and listening work at the College so it all seemed to come together so well.”

And how has it helped you with your work as a composer since?

“My placement widened my knowledge of arts education across Europe, helping me discover new and inspirational music, which inspires my own compositions now.

“I’ve also found more confidence in practicing concert management, which I already loved.”

What’s next for you?

“I’ve just been awarded the Paul Mealor Bursary for Student Composers and I can’t wait to get started.

“I’ll be able to work as a paid composer and collaborate with the Welsh baritone Jeremy Huw Williams, who is one of the most active experts in new music for voice.

“It could also be a great chance to use some German I practiced in Zürich by setting a German text, so keep an eye out for that.”

“I’ve also recently been to London to hear my composition, Little Welsh Songs played and sung by some incredible artists in a taster concert ahead of the Ludlow English Song Weekend in April.

“The inclusion of my piece means the Welsh language will be heard by more people and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Learn more about the Study Abroad scheme and find out more about our Composition courses.

And keep up with Derri’s progress by following him on Twitter and Instagram.

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