12 February 2020

Harpist Esther Beyer wins the inaugural Royal Academy of Music Bicentenary Prize, sponsored by L1

Harpist Esther Beyer became the first winner of the inaugural Royal Academy of Music Bicentenary Prize, held at Wigmore Hall on 2 February.

Sponsored by LetterOne, the prize saw six students compete including Elise van der Wel (Violin), Samantha Quillish (Soprano), Qianyu Zhang (Accordion), Esther Beyer (Harp), Amy Holyland (Mezzo-soprano) and Ariel Lanyi (Piano).

Head judge and Academy alumna Dame Felicity Lott announced Esther as the winner, along with commendations for Elise and Amy. Dame Felicity was joined on the judging panel by violinist Levon Chilingirian and Chief Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Kirill Karabits.

Esther Beyer’s winning programme opened with Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Allegro from Harp Sonata in G, followed by a transcription of Mikhail Glinka’s ‘The Lark’ from A Farewell to Saint Petersburg, followed by two movements from contemporary composer Caroline Lizotte’s Suite galactique.

Esther is in her final year of undergraduate studies at the Academy, studying with Karen Vaughan. A passionate orchestral musician, she has worked under the batons of such renowned conductors as Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner and Ilan Volkov and a keen advocate of contemporary music, has premiered works by Tansy Davies, Unsuk Chin, Larry Goves and Iris ter Schiphorst.

Notable solo highlights include playing for HRH The Duchess of Cornwall on the Royal Harp at Clarence House and in 2018 was the grateful recipient of a Wolfson Foundation Grant, which allowed her to purchase a Salvi Iris harp.

The Academy’s Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood said: 

‘The Royal Academy of Music provides bespoke training to exceptionally talented performers from all over the world, as demonstrated by the quality of the musicians who competed for this prestigious prize – we are very proud of all of them.

‘As we approach our Bicentenary in 2022, we remain committed to delivering a student experience of the very highest international standard. At the same time, we are looking to the future and the role we play in an ever-evolving musical landscape.

All of our Bicentenary-related events and initiatives – including this, the inaugural Bicentenary Prize – are designed to celebrate the ‘here and now’ as well as laying the path for the Academy’s exciting plans as we enter our third century.

‘Esther is a prodigiously talented musician, who has a great career ahead of her. I’d like to offer warm congratulations to her, and the other five finalists, on behalf of the Academy.’