Calvin Abdiel – 2017 award recipient

I would like to update you regarding my musical journey of this year.

I went to Singapore from 28th January to 3th March to participate in piano masterclasses with the renowned American conductor Jahja Ling in Singapore. Jahja Ling is a renowned conductor worldwide, previously being resident conductors of Cleveland Orchestra and the Sand Diego Orchestra. He was previously a bronze winner of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in 1977. He also received a Certificate of Honor at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. I presented to him my repertoire of my auditions in both Juilliard and Curtis. These masterclasses were very insightful, as the Maestro focuses on intricate details which further polishes my performance of the pieces.

In regards to applications for American colleges, I have been accepted to audition for Juilliard on the 28th of February, 4:00pm. Despite knowing that the auditions last 10-15 minutes from their official video, I have been diligent in polishing up my performance of my audition pieces. For Curtis, I am still waiting for my invitation for audition, which will be given on the 14th of February.

Meanwhile, I will be working on the Franck Violin Sonata at school with my friend, Oliver Lee. I am also learning movements of Ravel’s Piano Trio and Shostakovich’s Piano Trio with him and a cellist (Issac Davis). I will also be preparing for the Cooper International Piano Competition, recommended by Jahja Ling as the conductor of the Finals round. Among the repertoire include the Scriabin Sonata No. 5 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

I would like to thank the Theme and Variations Foundation for helping me cover the expenses for the masterclasses in Singapore and travel fees for the auditions in America. You have been a great blessing for me and I wish you the very best for the years to come.

Warm Regards,


Calvin Abdiel – 2017 award recipient2022-12-08T10:21:58+00:00

Rachael Shipard – 2017 award recipient

Moscow was a great experience! I went there for a week for the Moscow Conservatory Winter School.

The School was well organised and I was catered for just like the resident Conservatory students – meals and accomodation were all provided on campus. I found it a very educational and enjoyable experience: I was able to receive 4 private lessons with outstanding teachers from their piano faculty (3 lessons with Irina Plotnikova – who is a prize winner of the Sydney International and Tchaikovsky Piano Competitions, and 1 lesson with Alexander Strukov who was on the jury of the Lev Vlassenko Competition last year). Lessons were scheduled every other day, giving me ample time to practise and prepare for my next lesson. I was given one practice room for the whole day, every day. Although the Winter School was for all instruments, many of the students were pianists, so I was surrounded by likeminded people who had similar goals and aspirations.

I was also fortunate enough to gain free entry to concerts at the Conservatory every night of my stay! I listened to many piano recitals, witnessed a Russian choir singing traditional folk and Russian Orthodox sacred music, and I watched an organ concert and a piano/violin duo recital.
The Conservatory also organised some excursions in our free time. We were taken to the Tsaritsyno Park and Palace on the outskirts of Moscow – it was one of the palaces of Catherine the Great. We also saw the flats of Sviatoslav Richter which have been well preserved with his furniture and pianos still in place, plus precious mementos and artwork from friends. There were also many postcards that he wrote to loved ones while in France or Italy – his favourite countries to enjoy the culture and the people.

I also managed to visit Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral in my own time. I was interested in the Russian architecture and the religious piety of the people. Although I could see the influence of European styles and ideas in their buildings, there was a distinct Russian touch – sturdy structures, wonderful bright colours and patterns. The beautiful sacred icons that are central to worship in the Russian Orthodox religion were on full display in St Basil’s and some other small churches that I visited.

I learnt a lot in Moscow, even how people deal with immensely cold winters! Temperatures got down to -13 degrees which was difficult for me! It was my first time seeing snow too, so that was a new experience.

Thank you,



Rachael Shipard – 2017 award recipient2022-12-08T10:22:41+00:00
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