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RWCMD Welcomes its New Honorary Fellows 2020

1 July 2020

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This Friday, as well as celebrating the talents and achievements of our graduating students at a special online event, we’re delighted to welcome our new Honorary Fellows to the College.

Each year this is an opportunity for RWCMD to honour artists who have achieved international distinction in the creative and performing arts industries.

All of this year’s Fellows have made a significant contribution to the cultural life of Wales, while raising Wales’ profile within the arts industry worldwide.

This year’s new Fellows run the gamut of the performing arts from music to costume design, from production to performing.

Croeso, actor and singer Luke Evans, Bad Wolf founder Jane Tranter, costume designer and RWCMD graduate Ray Holman, BBC NOW Orchestra leader Lesley Hatfield, composer and pianist Gwilym Simcock, and operatic soprano Nuccia Focile.

We look forward to welcoming these Fellows, friends old and new, to the College in the near future.

“The College sets great store in our sense of community that comes together from 40 different countries, uniting in a shared and fundamental belief in the value of the arts and artists,” said Principal Helena Gaunt.

During these difficult few months we have been hugely grateful for the ways in which this community has kept us together creatively in a virtual world. I want to pay tribute to our students and to my colleagues for their flexibility, resourcefulness, energy and creativity as we face so many new challenges.

However much we learn to enhance the College through living and breathing digitally, some foundations will remain firm. The ghost lights in our theatres and in our concert hall remain on as a reminder that live performance will be back, and in fuller voice. We look forward to welcoming you back to RWCMD.“

Meet our new Honorary Fellows

Luke with our acting and musical theatre students on his visit to College earlier in the year. Photo: Simon Gough

Known for both his screen and stage performances, actor and singer Luke Evans began his career in the West End, building a significant stage career before his film breakthrough with Clash of the Titans. Since then he has appeared in roles as varied as Gaston in Disney’s live- action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, Dracula in Dracula Untold, as well as in The Hobbit and most recently in the period drama The Alienist. His most recent project further showcased his range and talents, with the success of his studio album At Last, which performed to sold out crowds in Wales and across the world. In the Spring Luke was one of the last visitors to the College before lockdown, spending some of his precious time off sharing stories, advice and inspiration in a masterclass with acting and musical theatre students.

From acting to production design, from creature effects to locations, 30 RWCMD students and grads worked on His Dark Materials

Bad Wolf co-founder Jane Tranter has been instrumental in creating the huge and emerging television industry that Wales celebrates today: starting with the catalyst for this success, the hugely successful revitalisation of Doctor Who, and coming right up to date with its critically acclaimed fantasy His Dark Materials, the BBC’s most ambitious TV series yet. Employing 30 students and graduates on this production alone, Jane has always been a huge advocate of the College. Bad Wolf, ‘named the fastest growing business in Wales’ has established its permanent studios in Cardiff as ‘part of a necessary commitment to Wales’ and changing the face of creative Wales beyond recognition. Jane is very much #MadeInWales.

Ray (middle) with some half-Gallifreyan Cyber Masters and The Master Photo: BBC Doctor Who

Talking of Doctor Who, the College also welcomes graduate and award-winning costume designer Ray Holman as a new Fellow. Think of a critically acclaimed TV show and the chances are that Ray has worked his material magic on it: Fleabag, The Split, Broadchurch… And of course he’s not just designed for humans, but also for extra-terrestrials, including the world’s most famous alien, Doctor Who him/herself, creating the iconic outfits for the latest Doctor, Jodie Whittaker.

Ray designed the iconic costume for Jodie Whittaker’s new Doctor. Photo: BBC Doctor Who

Recently nominated for yet another award, this time the Costume Designer Guild award for excellence in contemporary costume design, Ray is already a great friend and supporter of the College and generously shares his time and knowledge, investing in the new talent that is so important to him.

Fleabag and the Hot Priest, dressed by new RWCMD Fellow Ray. Photo: Two Brothers/Amazon

As the National Conservatoire of Wales, the College enjoys close working relationships with international arts organisations including BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The College’s long-term friendship with BBC NOW Leader Lesley Hatfield personifies that great partnership and Lesley is well-known to RWCMD students as an inspirational and compassionate teacher and mentor.

Lesley Hatfield

Lesley is passionate about teaching, and in particular how best to help the next generation of musicians learn the craft of music and to develop artistic awareness. Her ambassadorial work in supporting the Ely-based Making Music Changing Lives project enables RWCMD students to experience and participate in First Experience and Ensemble Mentorship projects inspired by the great Venezuelan El Sistema model.
Lesley’s integrity, compassion and commitment provides RWCMD students with core values and key skills that serve them throughout their professional lives.

Gwilym Simcock

Gwilym Simcock is one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers on the European scene, embracing jazz and classical music. His career spans a huge range of musical settings, as the first BBC New Generation Artist from a Jazz background, composer of music for television and stage, working with musicians from folk and rock traditions and mentoring young artists in BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year. Gwilym has been hailed as a pianist of ‘exceptional’ and ‘dazzling’ ability, and his music has been widely acclaimed as ‘engaging, exciting, often unexpected, melodically enthralling, complex yet hugely accessible’, and above all ‘wonderfully optimistic’.

Nuccia Focile

Following the arrival of John Fisher as Artistic Director of RWCMD’s David Seligman Opera School, we are delighted to recognize Nuccia Focile as a Fellow of the College. Known as an operatic soprano of ‘almost unbearable poignancy,’ she has performed and recorded in many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and artists, including many leading roles for Welsh National Opera. She was awarded Artist of the Year 2013 for La Voix Humaine by Poulenc at Seattle Opera and continues to dedicate her time and talent beyond the stage and studio to teaching and nurturing aspiring young artists.

Llongyfarchiadau, congratulations to our new Fellows.

The College will officially honour them at its Graduation next year.