RNCM 2019 Gold Medal Winners

The RNCM held its Gold Medal Competition on Saturday 15 June featuring 10 of the College’s finest performers and four of its leading young composers.

Adjudicated by Manus Carey (RNCM Deputy Principal, Performance and Programmes), Derek Chandruang (Vice President Artist Management, IMG Artists), Professor Linda Merrick (RNCM Principal), Claudia Molitor (composer) and Hazel Province (RNCM Governor and Independent Culture Sector Leader), this year’s winners were postgraduates Darren Gallacher (percussionist) and Kanako Mizuno (piano) and fourth year undergraduate Luke Jones (piano).

Professor Merrick said: ‘The RNCM’s much-coveted Gold Medal celebrates exceptional performance and composition by students at the College. Each year the competition is extremely high and 2019 was no exception. The overall standard was absolutely outstanding and everyone who competed, especially the three winners, should be very proud of their achievement.’

The RNCM Gold Medal is the College’s most prestigious award. During a full day of performances, each competitor presents a 30-minute recital of music that they truly love. Additionally, the day also provides four composers with the opportunity to write a new work, performed this year by wind quintet Festivo Winds.

The other 2019 competitors were: composers Matthew Eden, Philippos Rousiamanis, Stephen Bradshaw and Athanasia Kontou, cellists Jack Bailey and Yukyung Na, clarinettist Michael Choi, pianists Efstathios Chomatsas and Filip Michalak, harpist Lucy Nolan and soprano Caroline Taylor.

About the winners:

Scottish percussionist Darren Gallacher began lessons in high school before becoming student to Ruari Donaldson at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Junior Academy. He then went onto study at Edinburgh Napier University with Peter Evans where he would gain his Bachelor of Music degree with First Class Honours. He is currently studying for a Master’s of Music and is extremely grateful to the Ann Driver Trust and Help Musicians UK for their support.

Darren is a versatile musician and enjoys exploring all genres of music. He has freelanced as an orchestral player across Scotland and England, and has been fortunate to work with many orchestras, including the Hallé and Synfonia Cymru. He has also found success performing chamber music and as a soloist, having recently completed a tour of China where he was awarded First Prize at the China National Youth Percussion Competition as a member of the RNCM Percussion Ensemble and Third Prize in the Solo Marimba Category.

Japanese pianist Kanako Mizuno studied at the Toho Gakuen School of Music with Katsurako Mikami, graduating in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree. She is currently studying for a Master of Music in Performance, supported by a Colin Stone Scholarship.

Kanako was awarded top prizes in the Kamakura City Student Music, Japan Player’s, Young Artist Piano, Le Brilant French Music, Tokyo Piano and Japan Classical Music Competitions. She performed in Hamarikyu Hall as a prize winner, Kioi Hall as a selected graduation concert pianist, and St Magdalene Church for the Intercollegiate Beethoven Competition as a representative of the RNCM. She has participated in the Euro Music Festival and Academy, masterclasses with Dina Yofe at the Mozarteum Summer International Music Academy, and Dartington International Summer School and Festival with a full scholarship. In May Kanako premiered a composition by Laura Bowler at Salford Cathedral with musicians from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

Welsh pianist Luke Jones started playing the piano aged five, making his début recital at Wrexham Library aged 10. Since then, he has performed across Britain in venues such as Steinway Hall (London), St David’s Hall (Cardiff), Bradshaw Hall (Birmingham) and the Pump Room (Bath). He has also performed in France (Salle Cortot, Paris), Germany, Luxembourg (at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg), Italy, Austria, Spain (Palau de la Musica Catalana, Barcelona), Majorca and Slovenia and has won prizes in competitions around Europe, notably Second Prize and the Mompou Prize at the prestigious Maria Canals International Piano Competition and First Prize at the Bromsgrove International Musicians Competition.

Furthermore, he has had broadcasts of his performances on BBC Wales Radio, S4C Television, Radio Vaticana and Telepace in Italy. He has also performed concertos with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya, Manchester Camerata and will be performing with Orchestra of the Swan later this month.

17 June 2019