Opera Australia has announced the inaugural Patricia H. Reid Orchestral Fellowships to support the professional development of emerging musicians.

The 12-month fellowships offer early career string players (first and second violins, viola and cello) a bursary and the chance to work closely with experienced musicians in mentoring sessions, as well as participate in performance activities.

Jun Yi Ma playing his violin

Applicants must be aged 18 by 1 January 2022, and be Australian or New Zealand citizens or an Australian permanent resident.

“These fellowships will be an invaluable opportunity for emerging players to gain valuable experience and, for many of them, a chance to experience the challenges that are unique to playing opera and ballet works,” said Opera Australia’s Concertmaster and Orchestra Director, Jun Yi Ma.

OA Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini, agreed, saying: “We are very excited about this program, it’s very important for the development of operatic orchestral players.”

The fellowships were made available through the generosity of the Patricia H. Reid Endowment.

Patricia H. Reid loved music and was an admirer of many orchestral groups. She had a particular regard and affection for artists and musicians who not only strived for perfection within their own performance skills, but took the time to mentor and foster these skills in aspiring professional musicians.

“Mrs Reid would be extremely proud that she was able to play a part in supporting and fostering early career musicians with the Opera Australia Orchestral Fellowships,” says Keith Barton, Director of the Endowment.

There will be fewer permanent musicians to mentor the Fellowship winners, however, as in September 2020, OA axed 16 musicians from the Opera Australia Orchestra as part of a redundancy program to reduce costs at the company after ticket sales were decimated by COVID-19.

Tutti oboe Mark Bruwel, who first joined the orchestra in 1988, was one of the musicians who was made redundant. He is now suing OA for unfair dismissal. Speaking to Limelight in October 2020 about the redundancies, he said that he feared the result will be the use of more freelance musicians, which will undermine the orchestra’s artistic integrity. “Every night you’ll go in with a different team of players,” predicted Bruwel.

Applications for the Patricia H. Reid Orchestral Fellowships close on 9 April at 5pm

For more information visit the Opera Australia website 

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