This exclusive recital by three of the University of Aberdeen's most accomplished undergraduate students provides a special finish to this year's Culture Café lunchtimes series. The Ogston Prize is an annual award to an outstanding undergraduate musician. We welcome the 2014 winner, pianist Maria Vilberg, alongside the 2015 winners - Ellen Smith - percussion and Alison Ewan - violin. The judging panel for the 2015 prize includes world-renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.
Maria Vilberg: Winner in 2014, Piano
Maria is currently in her final year studying piano with Dr. Barbara Payne. Born in Estonia, her first encounter with music happened at the age of four and it involved occasional singing lessons. A year later she decided to switch to piano instead when she heard Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor performed live. After finishing music school at the age of 14, Maria moved cities to go to Tallinn G. Ots Music High School, where she successfully graduated from in 2010. She then came to Scotland to study music at the University of Aberdeen.
Maria has participated in many competitions and masterclasses - she was awarded second prize at the International F. Chopin Piano Competition in Estonia at the age of eight, also a special diploma for unique interpretation of Liszt at the International F. Liszt Piano Competition in Weimar, Germany in 2003. Maria was awarded the Ogston Music Prize in 2014 and received gold diplomas at the Aberdeen and North East of Scotland Music Festival in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Maria has also performed in festivals in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Latvia. She has been offered a place at the Royal Northern College of Music to start The Master of Performance degree in September.
Ellen Smith: Winner 2015, Percussion
Ellen Smith is a 4th year single honours music student at the University of Aberdeen. Her musical education began in her hometown of Peebles in the Scottish Borders where she started learning piano, followed by side drum with the local pipe band. Since starting orchestral percussion lessons aged 14, Ellen has participated in many diverse musical ventures such as the Scottish Brass Band Championships and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s Spring Academy. At University, Ellen is an active member of the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Percussion Ensemble and the Drums and Pipes of the Aberdeen Universities’ Officer Training Corps, having undertaken trips to Belgium, Switzerland and Russia with these ensembles. Ellen won the 3rd year performance prize last year. After graduating Ellen intends to embark on a Masters course in Percussion Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.
Alison Ewan: Winner 2015, violin
Alison began playing violin at the age of twelve and progressed quickly, completing her grade eight after six years of study. During that time she also began to develop a keen interest in Scottish music, and was accepted into the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Junior Academy (then the RSAMD) where she studied fiddle under the tuition of Lauren MacColl for two years.
Since accepting a place at Aberdeen University to study classical violin, Alison has continued to play traditional music, playing at various large events, including the world famous Taste of Scotland Show at Prestonfield house in Edinburgh, playing solo fiddle with the Scots Military Band in the Royal Military Tattoo, as well as in a bluegrass band at the Royal Highland Show, and in her own band at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This academic year has seen her appear at the University graduations in November, as well as at the recent installation of the new rector. The next few weeks will see Alison making solo appearances in Perth as a guest artist at a fiddlers rally, as well as at a youth festival in Norway to both perform and teach. She has also been nominated to audition for the prestigious Boise Scholarship in London, to help aid her further studies as she takes up a place to study a Masters course in traditional music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in September.