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It Starts With Us: Celebrating the Class of 2020

3 July 2020

Llongyfarchiadau and congratulations to all our graduating students of 2020!

It’s our favourite time of year again when we get to celebrate the remarkable achievements of our graduating students and welcome them as our newest colleagues.

This year of course, it’s not quite the event we all expected, but as our SU President Nia Thomas so rightly says,

“Graduation isn’t defined by a piece of paper, a stage or a hat.

Graduation is defined by your courage. Your courage to take the next step and move on with the next stage of your life.”

Although we’ve been apart, we’ve continued to come together through our creativity. And today’s celebration is no exception.

Our Hodge International Chair in Drama, Matthew Rhys sent us a message from America: 

Our graduating students have reunited online, along with their family, friends and College staff, for a very special celebration of their amazing achievements. This unique event featured some surprises and exclusive videos recorded especially for our new graduates by RWCMD Fellows Amy Wadge, Luke Evans and Rakie Ayola.

Maestro Carlo Rizzi, our Hodge International Chair in Conducting sent us a message from Florence, with the good news that he’s back working on a new Opera: 

Class of 2020 Celebration 

We were hugely honoured with a very special message from our President, HRH The Prince of Wales.

This is an extract from his speech, and the full message can be heard in the link below:

“Today is the day that in normal circumstances you would have been celebrating the completion of your studies at the Royal Welsh College and the achievement of your degrees and a full graduation ceremony at St David’s Hall.
It is good to know that such a day, albeit delayed, will still come for you.

“There is a lovely Welsh expression which has been much used in this present crisis, to express the assurance that better times will come, that the sun will come back to the mountain: ‘Daw eto haul ar fryn.’

And I have no doubt that this will be true for you.

“For now I want you to know that the vision and creativity the world has always needed from its artists, its makers and its thinkers, are needed more than ever.

Your perseverance, in the face of a totally unexpected challenge will I’m sure, prove to be a priceless asset in the years to come, as you bring your talent and your passion to so many different fields across the world where they are desperately needed.

“As the proud President of the College I want to send you all llongyfarchiadau, my warmest congratulations on your achievements during these extraordinary circumstances. And to wish you every possible success for the brightest of futures.

Dymuniadau gorau i chi gyd.”

Over to SU President Nia:

“It feels like the industry we were so ready to break into somehow feels further away than ever before. But it’s important to remember that during this time, while the World had seemingly stopped, creativity has grown even stronger. Right now, we are seeing the fastest shift that the arts industry has ever seen. This is an exciting time.

People all around the world have had to stop and realise that when they do, there is not silence. You switch on the TV, you listen to the Spotify album, watch the Netflix film, get out the old guitar and realise that creativity is at the heart of everything we do.

“2020 graduates. You can say that you graduated during the year that the Covid-19 pandemic hit the World, but this is your time. This is the year that everything changed and it’s ok to not know all the answers. Now more than ever we need to join together to fight for our industry.

We have an opportunity to not just re-build but create a new evolved normal, a fairer, kinder and stronger arts industry. We are the creators, the makers, the planners. We are the ones that are going to make history and change the world.

It starts with us.”

Fellow and graduate Amy Wadge and one of our newest Fellows Luke Evans came together to give messages of support to our graduating students.

“As a new Fellow of your wonderful College, I would just like to say congratulations to you all,” said Luke.

“You have managed to graduate in the most bizarre time you’ll probably ever experience. But you did it. And now you’re on the road to wherever you may go.

It’s not easy. But we are made out of stern stuff.

So just embrace it. Embrace your life, embrace the adventure. Because it is. This business is one big adventure. Congratulations. I’m sending you lots of love. Take care. And good luck.”

Amy wrote Faith’s Song for her fellow RWCMD classmate Eve Myles, who stars as Faith in the hit BBC series, Keeping Faith.

Luke and Amy recorded this version just for this occasion.

“I do know that the arts and all creative industries are going to thrive after this and we need you,” said Amy.

“So please try and be positive even though life must be uncertain. I’m sure out of all this craziness something beautiful will happen for all of you, so believe in yourself and go and smash it and make yourselves, and us proud. We already are. “

Renowned Welsh poet Mererid Hopwood wrote this beautiful poem Rhwng (Between), especially commissioned for the students. 

It was performed by graduate and RWCMD Fellow Rakie Ayola.

We give the last word of the day to our Principal, Helena Gaunt:

“I hope that you now feel your own strength as you look to the future, and will feel that RWCMD walks with you. Please come back and see us, next July if not before. By then the ghost lights will be off, and the full lights will flood the stage to welcome and honour you.

Rydym yn hynod falch o’r hyn rydych chi wedi cyflawni. Dyma i’ch pennod nesaf…

We are hugely proud of what you have achieved. Here’s to your next chapter.”

Diolch yn fawr to our very special guests for helping to make this day so memorable.

Llongyfarchiadau mawr i bawb!

Congratulations to you all!

The feature image shows the Royal Welsh College Orchestra and choir in the Dora Stoutzker Hall performing for HRH The Prince of Wales to celebrate his 70th birthday. Photo: Kiran Ridley 

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