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2023 participants of Jerwood Pit Perfect scheme

Glyndebourne has announced the names of seven orchestral instrumentalists who will be taking part in the opera house’s Jerwood Pit Perfect scheme in 2023.

Glyndebourne has announced the names of seven orchestral instrumentalists who will be taking part in the opera house’s Jerwood Pit Perfect scheme in 2023.

The Jerwood Pit Perfect scheme celebrates its sixth anniversary in 2023 and offers recent graduates the opportunity to join the Glyndebourne Sinfonia (formerly the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra) during Glyndebourne’s autumn season.

Launched in 2018, the scheme is unique in the UK in treating the participants as professionals from the start; the young musicians work on an equal footing alongside established professionals and are paid for their participation. As well as taking part in rehearsals and performances, participants are mentored by an existing member of the orchestra and offered further development opportunities including one-to-one instrumental lessons and seminars on life in the music profession.

The first round of the selection process is judged blind to ensure a level playing field, with a second round of live, in-person auditions conducted face-to-face.

The 2023 Jerwood Pit Perfect participants.
Clockwise from top left: Yuliya Ostapchuk, Eriol Gou Yu, Theo Bently Curtin, Yat Hei Lee, Yijia Cui, Hazalen Tang and Nick Cowling

Places on the scheme are offered to selected instrumentalists each year, depending on repertoire and vacancies. Since its launch, opportunities have been offered for every orchestral instrument. This year, places were available for 1st and 2nd Violin, Cello and Double Bass for performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The musicians selected for these positions are:

  • Yuliya Ostapchuk, violin
  • Eriol Guo Yu, violin
  • Theo Bently Curtin, cello
  • Yat Hei Lee, bass

Thanks to the generosity of the Jerwood Foundation, who are supporting the scheme for the next three years, Glyndebourne was also able to recruit three additional Associate Pit Perfect players who will also participate in rehearsals and sit in on at least two Don Giovanni performances. These places are taken by:

  • Yijia Cui, bass
  • Hazalen Tang, bassoon
  • Nick Cowling, timpani

All seven of the Jerwood Pit Perfect participants will also perform in a number of chamber music performances at Glyndebourne and elsewhere with a programme that includes new works by the 2023 participants of its Balancing the Score programme for composers from backgrounds currently underrepresented in classical music – Alex Ho and Lucy Armstrong.

Over the years, a number of Pit Perfect musicians have been invited to return to the orchestra following their time on the scheme. In 2023 there are eight returning players, five of whom return in Principal or Sub Principal positions.

Jonathan Tunnell, manager of the Glyndebourne Sinfonia, said: ‘The Jerwood Pit Perfect scheme has proven to be a great success as a pipeline for new talent coming into the orchestra. Among those returning this autumn is violinist Haim Choi who took part in the scheme in 2021 and will return to the orchestra as Principal First Violin for the second year running, sitting No 2 alongside the orchestra leader Richard Milone – a crucial position that would require Haim to lead the orchestra in Richard’s absence.’

Glyndebourne’s autumn programme includes productions in November and December of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, plus concert performances of Haydn’s The Creation and Handel’s Messiah, and the return of the annual Glyndebourne Christmas Concert.

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