RCM saxophonist Rianna Henriques, pictured with her instrument in front of a white background

Updates Autumn 2022

Student updates

Share #UpbeatOnline

Autumn Term 2022 has brought fresh updates and success stories from Royal College of Music students.

Notable appearances and performances

Pianist Cristiana Achim appeared as soloist with Trinity Orchestra Harrow on 26 November, performing Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto. Cristiana was also awarded Third Prize in the Norah Sande Competition that took place in Eastbourne.

PhD student Florence Brady has been touring her theatre production The Kaspar Hauser Experiment to venues across the UK. It is an experimental work based on the life of Kaspar Hauser (1812–33), a controversial figure and the so-called ‘foundling of Nuremburg’. Florence has been working on this project with Animikii Theatre since 2019.

Rianna Henriques (saxophone, pictured above) and Hanna Mbuya (tuba) performed for a private Puma X Liberty London event in an all-women marching band in June, marking the launch of the Women's National Team football kits ahead of the European Championships. Rianna also performed in the recently aired Samsung Galaxy Pro Buds2 advert which has over 16 million views on YouTube.

Estonian pianist Tahe-Lee Liiv performed at the Baltic Council in Great Britain’s ‘Young Baltic Talent’ concert on 6 November.

Composer and PhD candidate Jorge Pinto Ramos had his pieces premiered at the ‘gnration’ exhibition space for interdisciplinary art and contemporary music in Portugal. Paysage and Blur 2.0 were performed in June and September respectively.


Saxophonist Sophia Elger has been announced as a Hattori Foundation Senior Award Winner 2022.

RCM Junior Department pianist Jerry Liu achieved distinction in his ABRSM Diploma at the age of just 11. 

A collaboration by composer Mina Samy and Royal College of Art student Sophie Vickers has been named as one of the CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2022, chosen from hundreds of international filmmakers. The short film, Aeon’s Ark, for which Mina composed the score, was broadcast in Piccadilly Circus, as well as in major squares in Berlin, Seoul and Melbourne.

A video-essay by doctoral student Sureshkumar P Sekar, Film-with-Live-Orchestra Concerts: A New Hope, was awarded the Andrew Goodwin Prize 2022 by IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music) UK/Ireland in September. You can view the essay on YouTube now.


Bass trombonist Angus Butt has won an Academy position with the Berlin Staatskapelle.

Collaborative pianist Avishka Edirisinghe was recently appointed as the Assistant Chorus Director of the English National Opera. Having already worked through La Bohème, Tosca and Yeomen of the Guard, Avishka will be working on further operas in the 2022/23 season.

Junior Department violinist Isabell Karlsson has been selected as leader for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Competition success

The Astatine Trio – formed of Riya Hamie (RCMJD cellist), Berniya Hamie (piano) and Julia Blachuta (violin) – won First Prize in the 2022 Virtuoso and Belcanto International Chamber Competition in Italy.

Gwydion Rhys won the Two Contrasting Compositions prize (between 16- and 19-year-olds) at the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron. This is one of three Eisteddfod prizes he won this year – also coming second in the Urdd Eisteddfod’s composition medal with Variants, which Gwydion wrote during his first year at the RCM.

The RCM Trombone Choir won the BTS Inter-Collegiate Trombone Choir Competition in October, held as part of the British Trombone Festival in Birmingham. RCM professor Byron Fulcher coached the ensemble, which was made up of all our RCM trombonists.

New releases

Doctoral student Zsombor Toth-Vajna recorded Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ on a Viennese fortepiano, built by Paul McNulty after Anton Walter’s 1805 instrument. The recording was published by Hungaroton Records and has already received excellent reviews from critics in Hungary and abroad. Zsombor has also been accepted by the Collegium Symphonicum Hungaricum as a young conductor.

Pianist and PhD student Tal Walker released his first album on 21 October. Supported by the Endowment Fund Galaxie-Y, the album pairs French 'miniatures’ – Preludes and Nocturnes – by Fauré, Messiaen and Poulenc. For his PhD, Tal researches French piano preludes of the early 20th century.

Research and innovation

Grove Music Online has published an article on Carl Goldmark, co-authored by Tihamér Hlavacsek. The article was revised recently, and Tihamér was commissioned to offer the full list of works. His PhD thesis at the RCM is on Goldmark's piano music.

Doctoral student Gigi Chi Ying Lam is working with Dr Lee Cheng at Anglia Ruskin University, designing a mobile app, ‘Handl’, to facilitate music-making. Part of the EnMuAble project, Gigi’s work is making music more accessible to people with additional needs with the support of the MedTech Entrepreneurship programme.

New initiatives

A new RCM Film Scoring Society was founded in autumn 2021 by Grigor Abgaryan and Levent Altuntas (President and VP respectively). The Film Scoring Society is a collective of postgraduate and undergraduate Composition for Screen students who have come together to learn from each other and make a presence in the film community.

In their first year, the society welcomed 25 guests, including Oscar-winning composers Rachel Portman and Mychael Danna, and multiple Emmy and BAFTA winning composers. The society meets weekly throughout the year on Fridays 4–6pm.


Founded in February 2022, standard issue (pictured below) has created a workshop series in collaboration with RCM's Composition Faculty that allows students to write for the ensemble and try out new techniques and ideas.

Comprising Hannah Gillingham, Michelle Hromin, Matilda Sacco, Carys Underwood, Archie Bonham and Toril Azzalini-Machecler, the ensemble is performing throughout London and is also looking to work with artists from other disciplines, with a passion for making new and experimental music accessible.


‘Running an ensemble has been a dream of mine for a long time. While I found a lot of my love for my instrument in the orchestral world as a kid, I found my artistic voice and ability to express myself through the new music world. Through collaborating closely with composers and groups, I feel like I'm in a continual process of discovering what it means to be an artist today; bringing together five of my close friends to create something of this nature is an indescribable feeling.'
– Michelle Hromin, Artistic Director of standard issue.

Send your updates for the Spring 2023 online edition of Upbeat to news@rcm.ac.uk by Friday 27 January.


Back to top