AYM's direct, financial, support for young musicians stops at 18, however that's not necessarily the end of the journey. We love to stay connected with our Alumni and many go on to to be involved in other AYM events and project. Here are just a few examples:
My Musical Journey
As part of celebrating our 20th anniversary in 2018, we published a set of stories, photographs and films, telling the stories of 20 AYM Award winners, spanning our 20 year history.
Talent to Talent
AYM’s music-based mentoring programme combines peer mentoring opportunities with creative music making for young musicians at different stages of their musical journeys.
We organise regular fundraising concerts at which current Awardees and members of our Alumni are invited to perform and to talk to our donors about the impact of our work.
Meet our Alumni
Every time I applied to AYM for help with funding my violin lessons, I wrote on the application form that my goal was to inspire others and to bring music to people who otherwise would not have been able to access it. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I worked on a diverse array of projects in the community, from sharing in the first musical experiences of babies and toddlers who sparkle with rhythm as they begin to make sense of the world, to collaborating with elders who provide new perspectives on our society through their music-making. As I worked on these projects, I began to feel that my music-making was achieving the goals I had laid out in those AYM application forms. I went on to study a master’s degree in community music and am informed by this practice in all of my work as a musician.
Since 2018, I have worked on AYM’s Furthering Talent and Talent To Talent programmes, mentoring young musicians, capturing their voices at events, and creating new music with them in which they compose and improvise sometimes for the very first time. I feel immensely proud of what these programmes have achieved and relish the opportunity to work on the ground with these young people, supporting their growth as musicians. In addition to this work with the young musicians, I provide administrative support to Helen Borg at Bradford Music & Arts Service, working with her to deliver the Furthering Talent programme in this area.
'I’m not an academic, not mathsy – but I realised I understood sound in a way that other kids didn’t.'
Effective communication is a talent in its own right, and for some people the initial glimmers can appear in strange and unconventional ways. For actor and musician Leaphia Darko, this began at a very young age when she found herself connecting with sounds in a way other children her age simply weren’t able to. A nursery teacher asked the class to wrap elastic bands around a shoebox and prang away, and Leaphia vividly recalls her fascination with the myriad sounds such a simple instrument could produce. This proved to be a defining moment in her life, one that set the tone for years to come.
Moving from Junior Trinity music school to studying at RADA, which she described as a “dream come true,” Leaphia has never forgotten the power of that early experience. Now both a professional actor and musician, she sees communication as central to her two creative lives. As she puts it: “music and acting are both about talking to people.” And all because of a bit of elastic tied around a shoebox…
Welsh harpist, Elfair, completed her master’s degree at the RNCM in Manchester, after gaining her BMus degree at the conservatoire with first class honours as an ABRSM Scholar. Elfair has embarked on a professional career as a harpist; releasing her debut solo album with SAIN records, touring with CLOUDS Harp Quartet, and freelancing with orchestras. In 2016, Elfair returned to the UK after living in Bangkok, working as a harp teacher and harpist in residence at the Tamnak Prathom Harp Centre. Elfair’s work as a Live Music Now! artist has led to her passion of working as a music practitioner in health settings, bringing music from the concert hall to challenging and more intimate environments.
Recently, Elfair has enjoyed touring operas with Mid Wales Opera and Ensemble Cymru. Latest musical projects include working at the nursery at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and delivering Carnegie Hall's Lullaby Project for families in North Wales. Elfair lives in Greater Manchester and has a young daughter.
Elfair was supported by AYM when she was a teenager, and is delighted to be one of our mentors for the Furthering Talent Programme, working closely with the Greater Manchester Hub.
I’m very much looking forward to getting stuck in as this year’s Alumni Trustee, a position in which I feel very privileged to now hold having been an Award winner some 7 years ago. I’m excited to have an input as a young, black female musician and educator. In the wake of the recent pandemic which has severely affected the arts sector, this year is very significant in giving talent a chance during such unprecedented circumstances. I’m excited to be on the Board at this time!
Patron and Alumna
Jess Gillam MBE
Patron and Alumna
AYM supported Jess from the ages of 13 to 17, helping with the cost of her Saturday studies at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music and enabling her to access a host of musical opportunities, including performing at prestigious venues on the charity’s behalf. In 2016, at the age of 17, Jess made history as the first saxophonist to win the Woodwind Final of BBC Young Musician of the Year. She then reached the Grand Final at London’s Barbican Hall, and performed Michael Nyman’s “Where the Bee Dances” with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, to widespread critical acclaim. In 2017 she made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall, where she performed as a soloist with both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Since becoming an Alumna of our Awards programme at age 18, Jess has continued her connection with the charity by becoming a mentor to younger musicians on our Arts Council England-funded peer-mentoring programme, Talent to Talent; now she is our youngest patron. AYM turned 20 in 2018, as did Jess!
I started playing the trumpet at 7 years old and after 11 years of constant development in my passion, music performance is something I want to pursue during my time, not just at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, but for the rest of my life. Not many children keep constant interest in something for a while but for me it’s different. I knew I wanted to play a musical instrument; the trumpet was my favourite out of all the brass instruments, and after first picking it up, I had a moment of complete clarity - this was what I wanted to dedicate my life to. From starting in beginner/youth wind bands, and jazz ensembles through Seven Arts in Worcestershire, I have acquired a wealth of social and musical experience. This has allowed me to experience different avenues in music, whether it’s film music or jazz, my musical surroundings have helped shape my performing abilities as a performer. Whilst studying at the Conservatoire I’ve had many opportunities presented to me which I would love to put into practice when I graduate – things like performing and recording film compositions and playing in pit bands in theatres which I’ve had the pleasure of doing a couple times with Dynamik Theatre based in Worcestershire. By being apart of the Seven Arts community, you meet some amazing people who encourage and shape you as a musician through your time there, and I am truly lucky to have been, and continue to still be involved in such an awesome organization.
Born in Hackney, Deschanel was supported by our Furthering Talent programme with funding for jazz piano lessons and mentoring from a professional jazz musician from 2009 until 2013. He graduated from Trinity Laban in 2020 with first class honours and subsequently won the prestigious BBC Young Jazz Musician in November 2020. In his new role as our Alumni Patron, Deschanel will support our work in a range of ways, from leading master classes for young jazz musicians to performing on our behalf.
“AYM’s help with the costs of piano lessons during my teenage years was absolutely crucial to my musical development, as was the amazing mentoring I had too. I’ll always remember other musical experiences AYM enabled as well, such as a visit to the Royal Festival Hall with other Furthering Talent students to see pianist Emmanuel Ax perform. It’s great to be able to give something back now as a Patron!”
If you’d have spoken to the child me and said one day you’ll be writing for the Royal Opera House, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Growing up in the Forest of Dean as part of a brass-banding family, music for Gavin Higgins was initially “just what we did” and he remembers wishing he could stay home and read books about dinosaurs rather than go to band practice. It was in his early teens that Gavin recalls first being empowered by music. “I was suffering with Tourette’s syndrome and OCD and music was an important tool for me. When I was playing my French horn the tics and invasive thoughts would completely stop.”
It was later whilst at the Royal Northern College of Music that Gavin fell in love with composing. “It’s been an exciting five years” he reflects on his career since graduating. “I became Rambert Dance company’s first ever composer in residence, I’ve written the opening piece for the Last Night of The Proms and I’m currently in the middle of writing an opera for the Royal Opera House.” The project closest to his heart was writing the ballet “Dark Arteries” composed for brass band. “It brings together various parts of my life: my love of dance, brass bands and the mining tradition that my family grew up in.”
Part of our 20th anniversary project: My Musical Journey
Originally from Bradford Caius Lee. We began supporting Caius at the age of 15 when he was in need of funding for piano lessons, essential to his development as an organist. Already very active as a music educator across the country, Caius wasOrgan Scholar at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and is currently Director of Music at Worcester College, Oxford.
“I know first hand how vital it is to create musical opportunities for young people. I am living proof of this; as a recently diagnosed neuro-diverse student with dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, and possibly on the autistic spectrum. My involvement with music throughout secondary school helped me focus and subsequently engage educationally. I hope my perspective as a former Awards recipient will be valuable to the Board.”
Caius Lee, AYM Alumni Trustee
My relationship with AYM began in 2015 as winner of the Robert Lewin Scholarship. Their support opened numerous doors for me that would have otherwise been out of reach: from being able to purchase my beloved French horn, to providing performance and mentoring opportunities. AYM is a catalyst for building confidence, something which enabled me to dive into the world of amateur and semi-professional orchestral playing, and which profoundly impacted my non-musical life too. It was fantastic to re-engage with the work of AYM in 2021 as a mentor for Talent-to-Talent! I am really looking forward to giving back to an organisation which has given me so much, and I can’t wait to support the ins and outs of all things AYM!
Young People's Programme Panel
Young People's Programme Panel
As a musician and educator, I am inspired by how music creates opportunities for people to express themselves, and fulfil the need to be seen and heard. I also take the responsibility of creating accessible and inclusive opportunities to learn within music seriously. Awards for Young Musicians aligns so wonderfully with these values, and I am proud to have worked with the organisation since 2018, after having been a previous awardee myself. As a mentor for the Furthering Talent programme, I work one-on-one with several young musicians; creating relationships, sharing our musical journeys and offering guidance. In this capacity, I have also had the chance to participate in Get Togethers, Awards Days and projects on the Talent-to-Talent programme as an Alumni Mentor. I now coordinate the Young People’s Programme Panel; an initiative to give a voice to our Furthering Talent students about how the programme is run.
Some favourite experiences from my time with AYM include supporting the workshop of singer-songwriter-composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson at a recent AYM Awards Day, and being in awe of her creativity and imagination with the activities she chose to lead. I have also been absolutely blown away when mentees have shared something incredible they have created with me, and equally other times when they have shown impressive maturity and self-reflection. It’s an amazing experience to be in a position to really hear and see these young people, and their talent, and to provide lots of encouragement!
Outside of AYM, I am a freelance clarinettist and chamber musician based in Scotland; I am a member of the Silver Keys clarinet quartet, and the Pancevski Duo. I have recently played in projects for Lammermuir Festival Orchestra, the Glasgow Barons, Puppet Animation Scotland, and the Nevis Ensemble. I am an educator committed to constant development of my skills; this year I am a Creative Learning Ambassador for the Benedetti Foundation. I have a love of song and poem-writing, and am currently exploring incorporating these disciplines into my musical activities.
A prize winner of both national and international competitions, British pianist Nina Savicevic is the recipient of the prestigious Wright Scholarship at the Royal Northern College of Music. She began her studies under Dr Galina Kulish at St Petersburg's Rimsky Korsakov Conservatoire, Russia, and later on with Dr Caroline Diffley. She gave her very first concert after three months. In 2013 Nina was awarded a full scholarship to study under Hilary Coates at Wells Cathedral School, one of the UK’s specialist music schools.
During her time at Wells, Nina gained success in various competitions, most notably winning first place at the Birmingham Piano Competition, first place in the piano category at Taunton Young Musician, and third place and Audience Prize at the Windsor International Piano Competition. She has competed in BBC Young Musician and was a finalist at the Scottish International Youth Competition. Nina was also awarded the Robert Lewin Scholarship from Awards for Young Musicians which enabled her to work alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra at Maida Vale Studios.
Born in Exeter 2001 of Croatian-Serbian descent, Nina often performs across the UK and abroad, actively promoting Serbo-Croatian classical music. Her overseas engagements include concerts in Croatia, Serbia, France, Germany and Hungary.
Nina is a keen chamber musician. Nina also takes an interest in British music, and performed Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings with the Exeter Symphony Orchestra. She also recently became part of the European Piano Teachers' Association (EPTA).
During 2021/2022, Nina performed across the UK, most notably at the 1901 Arts Club in London, St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh and at the Cheltenham Music Festival and Girton College, Cambridge. She also became a mentor for Awards for Young Musicians, where she works alongside young musicians and guides them with their studies.
Nina also teaches piano and has built up quite a number of pupils.
Patron and Alumnus
Patron and Alumnus
Duncan became a patron in 2012 saying: “It’s just a thrill to have quickly changed around from being a beneficiary to being able to give something back. I wouldn’t be able to be where I am or follow my musical dreams were it not for charities like AYM. It’s so important for young musicians who don’t have the means to be given those chances. It’s a privilege and a thrill. It’s really exciting.”
Sought after as both conductor and composer for an increasingly exciting range of projects around the globe, recent highlights include with the Frankfurt Radio, London Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk, Swedish Radio, Bamberg, Trondheim and Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestras, Orchestre de Paris, BBC, Dresden and New Japan Philharmonics, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Glyndebourne Opera, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), New York.
In 2021 we presented a special online concert celebrating the many successes of our Alumni. It is hosted by Mahaliah Edwards and Caius Lee, both Alumni Trustees of AYM.
Get in touch
Please do get in touch, if you are interested in reconnecting with AYM, or have a particular idea you would like to discuss with us. We'd love to hear from you!
We are always delighted when members of our Alumni stage concerts and performances to raise funds to help us continue our work. In January 2019 Alumnus Julian Trevelyan (piano) staged a concert with AYM Awardee Willard Carter (cello) at the Hollywell Music Room in Oxford, which raised over £1,000.
News and resources for our Alumni
“I don’t envisage a time in my life when I will stop playing violin, and I plan on making music a part of my career.”
Music has always been 15 year old Maisie’s core passion. She started playing the violin…Read More
On Sunday 10 September 2023, young musicians supported by our Awards Programme took centre stage…Read More
“Since I was very young, I’ve been hearing beats in my head and tapping out rhythms – it just comes naturally to me!”
Growing up, Joshua had loads of musical potential. He just needed somewhere to use it!…Read More
Ever since she was nine, Adah knew she wanted to learn an instrument. After group…Read More
When 14 year old Tristan started playing in brass bands, he was inspired to have…Read More
“Piano is really important to me, it helps me to find a voice because I’m quite shy but I don’t have to be shy when I play piano.”
Theodore and Arthur are 12 year old brothers who live in Wales. Playing piano is…Read More
We are excited to announce a new partnership with Gospel Music Industry Alliance (GMIA) by…Read More
For 14 year old Wiktor, playing the guitar is a way of connecting with others….Read More
Back in July, students from four of our Furthering Talent Partner Hubs from Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire,…Read More
On Sunday 17 July 2022 we were thrilled to host our first in person Awards…Read More
“Lockdown during the pandemic was tough and I struggled to find motivation. But during such time AYM were there virtually to help us through it!”
18 year old violinist Kayla is just one of the 800 young musicians we’re currently…Read More
16 year old David is quickly establishing a reputation for himself as a musician. He…Read More
“Music has truly changed Rhys’s life and given him hope. All I can say is thank you so much for helping my son find his smile.”
14 year old guitarist Rhys from Egham first applied for an AYM Award in 2021,…Read More
On Tuesday 6 September 2022 acclaimed saxophonist Jess Gillam will take to the Hallé St….Read More
On Tuesday 26 April, our Alumna Trustee Mahalia Edwards co-hosted the BBC Proms Launch event…Read More
16 year old Phoebe is a singer and songwriter from Suffolk. Brought up in a…Read More