Alumnae from the University of Waikato have been awarded New Zealand’s most lucrative, highly contested and desirable scholarship to support their artistic growth at prestigious academies worldwide.
Bethany Angus, Felicity Tomkins and Gracie Francis received the Kia Ora Foundation Patricia Pratt Scholarship to help continue their musical development at renowned musical schools or conservatoriums.
Bethany, 23, says she feels “overwhelmingly lucky” to study for a master’s degree in cello performance at one of the top institutions in the world for early music, the Royal Conservatoire The Hague in the Netherlands.
“The cost of international study is a barrier common to most people wanting to continue studies overseas, so I am very grateful that this scholarship makes my studies and future career possible,” Bethany says.
“It is also heartwarming to know that I have the support and belief of the Kia Ora Foundation behind me, and am honoured to join a very impressive group of alumni.”
For her master’s, Bethany will write a guide to baroque cello playing aimed at classical players who would like to explore the baroque style in more depth but may not have access to a baroque cello or high-level teaching.
Bethany, a University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar, graduated with a Bachelor of Music (BMus) in cello performance in 2020, before returning to her hometown Wellington to complete her honours.
“My studies gave me a very firm foundation in performance, technique and artistry, as well as requiring me to take a thorough look at my personal philosophy of where I exist in society as a musician.
“I was also especially grateful for the support of the Sir Edmund Hillary programme throughout my studies. I feel well prepared for the next challenge of international study.”
A particular highlight for Bethany was the annual ‘Cellophonics’ trip where the cello class toured the North Island trip performing.
“These were trips filled with laughter, conversations about life and music, not enough sleep, and some exuberant performances. We had quite a diverse group of cellists and I love to reflect on how music brought about that connection.”
Meanwhile, Felicity Tomkins, 25, from Te Puke will use her scholarship to support her highly regarded Artist Diploma in Opera Vocal Performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in the United States.
“I am thrilled to have experienced further development in my artistry since my arrival at CCM and I cannot wait to see how this continues to be strengthened over the remainder of my time on the Artist Diploma programme and beyond,” Felicity says.
Felicity, who is also a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar, graduated from the University of Waikato with a BMus and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in 2018, before expanding her expertise and going on to get a Bachelor of Music with Honours (BMus(Hons)) and her Master of Music (MMus) in voice.
For 30-year-old Gracie Francis, the University was the perfect place for pre-university study through the formerly run initiative, the Accelerando programme. She went on to study music in Auckland.
The Cambridge musician is using her scholarship to support her Doctor of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano at The Juilliard School in New York.
Senior lecturer Dr Rachael Griffiths-Hughes from the University of Waikato says these scholarships are highly contested so it’s fantastic to have University Alumni on the list.
“Bethany and Felicity both contributed a lot to the cultural life of the University when they were students, and we are very proud to see them head off into the world on the back of their Waikato Music degree.”
The scholarship, administered by Universities New Zealand, is funded by the Kia Ora Foundation, established in 1997 by philanthropist Annette Campbell-White in memory of her mother, Patricia Pratt.
Applications for 2023 open on November 1 and close on March 1.